Articles

AT THE HEART OF SOCIAL JUSTICE: WRITAFRICA’S WRITERS BARAZA IN MUKURU KWA REUBEN

By Charles Okech,

According to the United Nations calendar, the 20th of February is carved as World Social Justice Day, a moment devoted to championing equality among all that fall under the human species. In that respect, Siasa Place through its Writ Africa program, which seeks to use art to advance good governance and accountability, embarked on a town hall discussion to assess the issues around governance that plague the residents of Mukuru kwa Reuben.

At about 11 a.m., on the very day of the 20th of February 2024, the life-nourishing town hall forum began with prayers from one of the local pastors, ushering in the discussion with blessings from the MOST HIGH. In a swift move, the mic shifted hands to Sheila Karuga, the Public Relations and Marketing Manager, whose eagerness to engage community members was evident. She quickly introduced had her colleagues: Sir Tele, the program’s guru, and Sir Stan, the communications enthusiast.

Sheila then initiated the conversation with a question, “How many voted in the previous election, and if you did, why? And if you did not, why?” Shortly after, some intriguing responses arose, especially from those who voted with the answer “it is my right” being a constant among them.  They went on to enumerate other reasons for voting, indicating that Mukuru was a society that was clearheaded about their rights. On the other hand, most decried failing to have an identification card as the reason for not voting.

As the session progressed, Tele, the program’s officer, joined in to assess the locals’ knowledge regarding the responsibilities of their elected officials.  The conversation was tailored to in a to relate to their everyday pressing issues by seeking to understand the role of the Member of the County Assembly (M.C.A.). While there was some sense of what was expected, Tele took some time to debunk some roles mentioned by the civics that were not in the constitution, such as engaging local industries in the creation of contracts that would secure job opportunities.

In concluding the session, Siasa Place addressed the concerns the locals had, such as poor garbage collection system, access to electricity, and the credibility of their title deeds. Subsequently, a six-member committee was established among the locals, consisting of three men and three women, to spearhead advocating for the proper handling of the issues they had raised to the local authorities. By the end of the day, Siasa Place had achieved a milestone in fulfilling the theme of World Social Justice Day: Bridging gaps, Building Alliances through the writer’s baraza.

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