Last month has been one of Sisi ni Amani’s busiest ever! Every Friday, Sauti Yetu Debates Project (an initiative in partnership with Ni Sisi!), has held a community-level political debate for County Assembly representative. The debates have been held in Baba Dogo, Korogocho, Kariobangi North, Mathare, and Huruma. I was able to attend the Huruma and Mathare debates. The debates having an appealing title, ‘SAUTI YETU DEBATE’ (‘Our Voices Debate’), and the reason behind these debates is to help communities see that they share needs that can be addressed through political leadership and to give residents of informal settlements in Nairobi’s Eastlands a platform to express their needs and share opinions on type of leadership they want. So far the ongoing Debates have being a success, with high turn-out from both the communities and aspirants.
One thing that I found interesting about these debates is that a large number of aspirants vying for county leadership were present and armed with answers of how they are going to change the lives of the people of Mathare and Huruma. Their ambitions were beyond doubt very promising, and if carried out could lead to a good life ahead for the residents of these places. Each aspirant spoke of his/her dreams of kind of leadership style that he or she would bring if elected.
Residents of the community came with strength to the debates, bringing many questions and pushing aspirants to move from talking vaguely with broad promises to specifics. Some aspirants had a hard time answering some of the questions they were asked; especially when it came to creating job opportunities and making sure the elderly are taken care of. Corruption was also a theme that was brought up in both debates, since this a major set back to development. All aspirants promised to come up with structures that will ensure transparency in their leadership styles. The audiences in Huruma and Mathare asked about many other issues, including issues of rape. Some aspirants gave responses on the actions they would take, while others suggested behavior change on the part of the community, an answer that did not seem popular with the audiences.
The important thing about these debates is to make sure these areas and Kenya at large to have a peaceful election. The election period is a very short period, which should be exercised peacefully, since it can make or break a nation. Let us vote with our conscience.