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January 23, 2007

Corruption in Kenyan Government

This issue is one that just sucks energy from me when I try to think about how anyone can change things. With the gov’t so corrupt on almost every scale, it’s so hard for people to organize and make any change happen (in laws or politics). It brings new meaning to the idea of grassroots organizing… it *really* is about ‘the people’ organizing themselves to make change happen, completely outside of the political system and hopefully not too hampered by it.

I am hearing stories all the time of gov’t officials “land grabbing” – literally stealing land all over the country. Read more about this in my “Land” stories.

In the slums, it is the government itself that is perpetuating the poor-quality of life, as they are the ones who own a lot of the land (personally) and charge rent and then run water pumps with no meters so that they charge what they want.

When I ask if there are any good Members of Parliament or City Councilfolks, people mention two people: Wangari Matthai (who won the Nobel Peace Prize) and a guy named Raila Agwambo Odinga. Caleb and his friend with the “Agwambo’s Disciple” t-shirts told me Raila is the “most democratic man in Africa.” They also highly respect Rodger, the guy in the middle, who is their local district councilor. Rodger’s shirt says (in Lua, one of the dialects in Western Kenya), “Stop smiling at me, you make me lose my mind” (referring to women).

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