The youth and the vote

Kenneth Juror | Kenya

How many of us are going to vote in the coming general elections?

I ask this in light with the recently concluded by-elections, Kangema, Kajiado North, Ndhiwa and several wards across the country, to which there was high voter apathy with constituencies like Kangema registering a paltry 33% of the registered voters.

As J. F. Kennedy once said ask not what your country can do for you but rather what you can do for your country. This quote is not far from us if only we vote and not just vote but wisely vote as this is one of the surest ways of what we can do for our motherland moreover, fulfill our democratic mandate.

Generational Change

In the course of this week I asked a pertinent question; who in this current parliament has articulated the youth’s agenda? I however did not get an answer yet we constitute more than 50% of the total population. We can boast of being many in number whereas our ideas and aspirations cannot be concretized and therefore blur our own vision as well as blow our chances of electing one or several of our own as the old order’s divide and rule policy prevails to our disadvantage.

We are the ones who talk of a high rate of unemployment with a dysfunctional government that is not responsive to the youth’s agenda not to mention the number of times we have fought each other as bwana mkubwa fans and bankrolls the violence/clashes. We end up killing, maiming and raping at a cost of Sh200/= or even less. In addition, we viciously fight for Bwana Mkubwa who is to be a Mheshimiwa then later on sober up to start yelling atop our voices for generational change in leadership yet we do not accept one of our own or simply dismiss a fellow youth on his/her financial incapability.

Simple appeal  

I must commend the private sector and non-governmental organizations (USAid, UKAid,Inuka Kenya, NMG among others) for stepping down the pedal in advocacy for leadership, perhaps we may get a new crop of leaders. A leadership that is responsive to its citizens not a government that threatens its workers with a sack if they do not get back to work.

Can a government still call itself legitimate yet it cannot listen to its workers? Then, to whose interest is it working for or serving?

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich” J.F Kennedy

I therefore wish to tell my fellow youth that the change that we have wished for is purely and squarely in our own hands. We can change this social and economic ills bedeviling our country through the strong power of the vote and not merely voting but ultimately vote wisely.

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Teachers, Doctors, Lecturers… down tools as MP’s clamor for more pay

Kenneth Juror | Kenya

The whole education system has been thrown to the dogs not to mention the health sector. This is the worrisome situation that our two critical sectors have reached. Three weeks after opening schools teachers in primary and secondary schools have not commenced the shortest term of the primary and secondary academic curriculum.

Negotiated Government

We expected the government to listen keenly to all those agitating for pay hikes as the same government that refuses to engage them (teachers, doctors e.tc) came about after a negotiation. This was due to a protracted post poll violence that led to more than 1,300 dead.

Many a times it is very demoralizing that a Kenyan worker would go to the extent of issuing a strike notice for the government to come to the negotiating table, ideally a strike notice is the last thing after talks have hit a dead end. It is equally appalling that the same government would issue sack threats at the same time negotiating.

Does the Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Development work? Why should Hon. John Munyes continue drawing a salary?

Imminent MP’s pay hike

A month ago the Speaker of the National Assembly Hon. Kenneth O. Marende insisted that MP’s were not well remunerated. I should perhaps remind Mr. Speaker that they earn 200 times more than the country’s GDP per person – comparative to purchasing power parity. Kenya is as well not a developed country to warrant such a colossal figure. Remember that this is the same group that was accused by Ikolomani MP, Bonny Khalwale that they outstretch themselves to bribes of as low as Sh 30,000.

A fortnight ago Permanent Sectaries received an increase on their allowances ranging from Sh 10,000 to 40,000. However, the communication workers union and COTU have issued strike notices if the Minister for Medical Services increases its member’s contribution to the National Hospital Insurance kitty, what is the raison d’être? Yet he cannot resolve the doctors’ salary and allowance dispute? Nurses may also join them this week.

It is funny that NHIF contributions are arbitrarily increased where as we may not get the services if the doctors and nurses demands are not met. So why increase?

Does CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) work these days?

The gains made on the “cut”

Kenneth Jura | Kenya

On my last blog I indicated that I will perhaps try to elucidate the gains made in as far as male circumcision in Luo-Nyanza is concerned.

My previous blog which talked of the Luo initiation rite

The male circumcision popularly known as the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision Programme (VMMCP) in the health circles has had its share of successes and demerits in combating HIV/AIDS.

Double digit prevalence rate

The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Luo-Nyanza is double the national rate. Nationally, the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate stands at 6.3% with Nyanza at 13.9% with some parts having high prevalence rate as high as 27% – Suba district being an example. With this in mind then it was only sage to circumcise the men so as to reduce the chances of HIV/AIDS infection. Studies have indicatively shown that the human foreskin tissue is highly susceptible to uptake of HIV, circumcision therefore reduces the chances of genital ulcer disease and infection with papilloma virus, the agent that causes penile cancer in men and cervical cancer in female partners of uncircumcised men. Chamydia infection – which can cause infertility – is also more common in the female partners of uncircumcised men.

The community leaders in Luo-Nyanza have played a cogal role in advocating and sensitizing its populace to go for the cut which has greatly been accepted by both the young and the old and thus go in for it in their droves. Women have also played a vital role in ensuring their men go for the cut.

Dancing on their graves

There is however a silent worrisome trend among the circumcised youth which negates the gains made in the fight towards reduction of new HIV/AIDS infections.

During funerals there is usually thum – village dance usually organized at night. It is simply keeping vigil. While at the dance the youth engage in excessive consumption of alcohol and abuse of drugs such as bhang.  This disproportionate uptake impairs their judgment and there after engage in unprotected sexual intercourse with multiple partners within a night. I would analogize this by; perhaps the person whom they (youth) are mourning may have died of HIV/AIDS then while they mourn in the best way they know they engage in unprotected sexual escapades that puts them in the same danger line as the deceased. Perchance they are oblivious that they are dancing on their graves. There are some parts of Luo-Nyanza than has imposed a total ban on thum.

It is however great to note that Kenya as a country leads in the number of circumcisions done in Africa, with this in mind then we may reach our set target, by WHO and UNAIDS, where by an estimated 4 million adults infections will be averted by 2015.

Sources:

Kenya Demographic Health Survey

National Guidance for Voluntary male Circumcision

The Luo’s initiation rite

Kenneth Juror | Kenya

We may have seen individuals who do not have six lower teeth notably, the people’s watchman, Martin Shikuku. The gap was not only for a selected community but others have gaps though not as big as removal of the six lower teeth, perhaps one or two, which is a story for another day.

Today however, I will attempt to elucidate the procedure of how the Luos underwent their initiation; removal of the six lower teeth.

Initiation age     

Boys and girls who were between the ages of 12-15 qualified for this age-old-initiation-rite which was to be a gigantic event.

The initiate knelt facing the extractor who was armed with a sharp-pointed-end of a hoe, no anesthetic was used. The sharp end was forced in between the middle of the incisors. Once the first middle tooth had been removed, the remaining incisors on both sides will have been shaken loose. As the hoe was being forced in between the lower dentition, a hole was dug next to the initiate for spitting blood flowing freely from the gum.

Potassium Permanganate       

The five remaining teeth were hand extracted. The aftermath was not a sight to look at as the holes on the gum were gaping and quite frightening. Potassium permanganate was then poured on the holes so as to cure and more over sterilize the gum. The excruciating pain experienced during the process signified the rite of passage from childhood to adulthood on the other hand use of potassium did not make the situation any better as its reaction with saliva made the whole process quite agonizing.

Dr. Gikonyo Ndiuini, a dentist in Eldoret once told me that the procedure was more painful than the cut practiced these days! However, I would not wish to go into the debate on which is more painful to the other. This initiation ceremony has nevertheless been relegated as the cut is presently practiced.

The cut is however not practiced as an alternative rite of passage of the Luo and the other non-circumcising communities but rather an embraced medical procedure that reduces the chances of HIV/AIDS and cancer of the cervix infections.

I will cover the voluntary male circumcision in Nyanza in my subsequent blog.