…Champion of the #RebrandingSlumsOfAfrica Mission – WE CAN DO IT.

Somebody has to be right – Your verdict?

… I walked down the roadside with the hope of making a sale while the sun shines in the midday hour. My visit to the jogoo road open air market was met by a deafening silence as I approached this usually busy shoppers’ zone in the low income region of Nairobi’s Eastland’s. Earlier in the day I had bumped into an army of buzzing motorcycles with over 80 hooting and whistling riders causing a traffic snarl up in the busy downtown streets – camera wielding journalists in tow.

With my digital gadget or cell phone, if you please; I snapped away and asked as many questions as I could. Harassment by the local authorities rivaled by hungry investors allegedly corrupted to sell off a market place secluded and hived off as free space and the unsuspecting entrepreneurs some who have been at this place for about 25 years and have had this experience now for the third time was the cause of unrests .

Questions linger in the minds of many enraged hustlers or “masufferer wa Mungu” in the local sheng, a slang used mostly in these zones and perfected by one Mbusi and Bonoko of Ghetto Radio’s rush our. Where is our government in this – shouts Mr. Peter Kariuki the area Chairman who holds a certificate of allotment and says contributions are going on by the 1,000 members of the market society of whom about 100 have so far raised Kenya Shillings 1,300,000 ($ 16, 250.00) towards building better structures and now with the demolition, more loses are anticipated as almost everyone has lost their wares says George Irungu

Open Air Market scuffle

another visibly angry trader who has been in the market since 1980 and quickly evokes a constitutional clause to justify their being. I am hurriedly scribbling points and capturing hot shots in my quest to miss no point and great shots at the same time as more tech laden Journalists from major media houses do their interviews.” Hatutatoka hapa, lazima tulinde uhai wetu,” swears both Joseph Kanyi a former Vice Chairman and Nancy Wanjiku with a heavy accent in to mean we shall not leave this place by any means; we will protect this at all costs.

Meanwhile the motorbike demonstration zooms towards the Office of The Prime Minister to air their dissatisfaction at being mishandled by the Council Askaris – street cops hired to man traffic in the city center and enforce bylaws. We pay a license of Kshs. 500 or $ 60, yet they charge us a penalty of Kshs. 10,000.00 ($125) on claims that an offence was committed through an illegal drop off.  Surely a motor cycle passenger cannot disembark on the roadside and must stay put in traffic until it stops at a designated space! This Law beats my logic.

So Why would citizens of a nation suffer so much under rules and regulations of the local government, is the irony of promoting entrepreneurship and equality by the central government a case of  manipulation and more during an election year? Police had quickly frog marched both the Area Member of Parliament and Councilor in the most embarrassing of scenarios to a nearby Police Station – so I ask if the rule of law cannot be upheld who shall respect it? These are bonafide and duly elected officers to be a voice of the people, does police action justify civil strife, what role does corruption and suspicion between the government and the governed play in civil strife? The people result to take the law in their own hands – can you blame them? Reconstruction begins and they vow to stay put daring the alleged investor (a foreigner) to set foot again and it will be pandemonium, anarchy to its best. Being just a small voice, I tuck in and disappear into the crowd time to feed my readers. From the Local Authority, Administration Unit, Kenya Revenue Authority, Ministry of lands to the civilian – where does the buck stop? Somebody has to be right – Your verdict.

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