Lets get real about Kenyan Media Laws

In Law School, we are taught to be objective in our analysis of issues and this is my intention in this article. Despite my major life-changing interactions with the Kenyan Media industry throughout my current period in Law School; I am not going to start by saying that Kenyan Media needs to be “guaranteed more freedom of speech by the Kenyan Government.” In fact, I am going to start by pointing out that Irresponsible journalism is rife in Kenya, and that you can see more illustrations on these articles: “The Ills on Kenyan Radio Stations“, “Nation Media Attacked For Its Sunday Nation Cover Photo“, and it is also interesting to point out that the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Kenyan Journalist Walter Barasa and also that Kenyan Journalists exposed ICC witness sometime in 2013 including the fact that Kenyan media exposed Kenyan Undercover Security agents to terrorists.

We have to look keenly at the historical background to Kenyan Media practice and I will start at 2013 (though the history is way much longer). Kenyan media started by practising self-censorship over Kenya’s 2013 election and I remember having a conversation with my dad on my disappointment but then he reasoned with me on the need of the Kenyan Media to prevent incitement, to ensure national security and all the arguments that are always fronted as reasons for self-censorship.

Coincidentally, in 2013 there were new laws in Kenya which made many Kenyans happy as this was thought to root out unethical journalism Practices, I will look at only the contentious issues in the Kenya Information and Communications Act Ammendment Bill 2013 and the Media Council Bill 2013.

1. Kenya Information and Communications Act amendment (KICA) Bill 2013

Lets start by looking at Section 6E of the Kenya Information and Communications Act amendment (KICA) Bill 2013 that seeks to establish a Broadcasting Standards Committee responsible for developing standards for broadcasting content and regulating and monitoring compliance to those standards. With the KICA Bill, there are also other unreported new developments such as “the slow but increasing expansion of the regulatory oversight over the management of critical Internet Resources – such as the Internet Protocol Numbers (IP), Internet eXchange Points (IXPs), Internet Domain names.”  I would term this as prior restraint . The effects of this will create chilling effects.

Let me be clear, I do not attempt to say that freedom of speech and of the media is absolute as there is a 3 part test ((i) be provided by law, (ii) pursue a legitimate aim, and (iii) be necessary in a democratic society, in order to be permissible under Customary International Law.

This has been extensively discussed under: the European Court of Human Rights (The Sunday Times v United Kingdom (App no 6538/74) ECHR 26 April 1979) of the European Convention on Human Rights (Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention on Human Rights, as amended) (ECHR)) , Inter-American Court of Human Rights ,( Compulsory Membership in an Association Prescribed by law for the Practice of Journalism (Articles 13 and 29 of the American Convention on Human Rights), Advisory Opinion OC- 585, Inter-American Court of Human Rights Series A No 5 (13 November 1985) (IACHR))  African Court of Human and Peoples Rights,( Media Rights Agenda and Others v Nigeria (Comm nos. 105/93, 128/94, 130/94 and 152/96) African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (1998) (ACHPR))  and the Human Rights Committee (Womah Mukong v Cameroon, Comm no 458/1991, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/51/D/458/1991 (1994) (HRC))  of the Iinternational Covenanct on Civil and Political Rights. (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (adopted 16 December 1966, entered into force 23 March 1976) 999 UNTS 171 (ICCPR)).

In my opinion many provisions of this law do not fullfill the 3 part test and will threaten press freedom in Kenya. This law also moves Kenyan media away from self-regulation. Self-regulation can be counted as part of Customary International Law and International Media Best Practices. Interestingly, Kenyan Parliament also passed a Law which establishes a self-regulatory mechanism for the media but puts a government-controlled tribunal on top of it. (READ: House adopts Uhuru’s proposals on media Bill)

Hefty fines Imposed

The government-appointed tribunal has powers to fine media houses to the tune of KSH 2 million (US$23,310) and journalists up to KSH 500,000 (US$5,827). In Customary International Law, There must be a corresponding ‘pressing social need’ (Lindon, Otchakovsky-Laurens and July v France (Apps nos 21279/02 and 36448/02) 22
October 2007) for restrictions to be held valid. Reasons for restrictions should also be ‘relevant and sufficient’ and that any restriction ‘must be proportionate to its aim.’ (Chauvy and Others v. France (App no 6491/01) ECHR 29 June 2004).

Though the Kenyan media has had wrong actions I do believe that levying US$5,827 to a correspondent will be killing a rat by burning a house, this will open up the media industry only to rich individuals who can afford.

2. Media Council of Kenya Bill 2013

Regulation of Internet End-Users

In the Media Council of Kenya Bill of 2013,the definition of “journalist” is “any person who engages in the practice of journalism,” while that of “journalism” is “the collecting, writing, editing and presenting of news or news articles in newspapers and magazines, radio and television broadcasts, in the internet or any other manner as may be prescribed.” Finally, the definition of “publication” is “the dissemination to the public of any written, audio or video material, and includes materials disseminated through the internet.”

As per the Media Act of 2007 definition, where “journalist” was any person “who holds a diploma or a degree in mass communication from a recognized institution of higher learning and is recognized as such by the Council, or any other person who was practicing as a journalist immediately before the commencement by the Council, and earns a living from the practice of journalism, or any person who habitually engages in the practice of journalism and is recognized as such by the Council.”

In my opinion, the new 2013 Kenyan Law will is vague and in contravention with Customary International Law, I refer to The Sunday Times v The United Kingdom where the Eurpean Court of Human Rights stated that the law must be of ‘sufficient precision to enable the citizen to regulate his conduct.’ The new law aspires to regard all Internet-End users as journalists, especially where one could be sharing links of news articles or blogs and is thus refered to as a journalist. I am happy that Kenyan are now realizing the meaning of these provisions.

Call to action

I conclude by stating that as we await court determination on the validity of the new Kenyan law, lets only hope that the media will take the rightful place in the society where we belong.

Internet Governance: Why Africa Should Take the Lead

Recently during an afternoon meeting with a friend of mine, Bob Ochieng, who happens to work for ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) Africa Operations, he lamented that at online Internet Governance discussions fora such as CircleID and 1net.org, there is no serious frequent engagements from African Voices. This got me thinking and I realized that most African Internet Stakeholders would rather use a “wait and see approach” in matters as critical as Internet Governance.

There are various reasons for the “wait and see approach” which include lack of enough well trained experts on Internet Governance. This is the case as online discussion spaces at times are hostile to new entrants with little to no knowledge about Internet Governance. Or maybe it could be that Africans have other “more urgent priorities” such as Reforming the ICC, Combating HomoSexuality, banning the wearing of mini-skirts or other serious matters such as Poverty, Corruption, Food Security and HealthCare Reforms and therefore in matters of ICT we tell ourselves that we are justified to wait and see as the rest of the world takes the lead.

Another reason for the “wait and see approach) could be due to a “post-Cold War hangover.” This is the case where Africans not only politicians/ governments but also the media see the world of Foreign Affairs/ International Relations as an East versus West interaction space. This is in fact emphasized by the comparison of conditions for grant of aid to Africa from the Eastern Countries and those from Western Countries by prominent Authors such as Dambisa Moyo in “Dead Aid”.

In my opinion, the “wait and see approach” is gravely interfering with basic human rights of Africans such as Freedom of Information and Right to Data Protection. So far it is only 11 countries have enacted National Freedom of Information/ Expression Laws and eight African Countries on the Right to Privacy/ Data Protection.

Very few in Africa can remember that just as the revelations by Snowden were made public in 2013, a research was released whereby the Research was carried out by Harvard School of Public Health, which worked with Oxford University researchers based in Kenya at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Program and other colleagues from six other institutions. The researchers used mobile phone data of 15 million people in Kenya in order to build a picture of how the trips people make within Kenya might contribute to malaria transmission.

The research was a breakthrough for scientists and medical professionals since they “found that a surprisingly large fraction of ‘imported’ infections – that is, infections that are carried by people moving from one place to another – wind up in Nairobi, with infected residents returning there after journeys to spots such as Lake Victoria. “ I am now skeptical but I would wonder how the information on travelling patterns of 15 million Kenyans will better cure malaria. Will Kenyans be barred from travelling to malaria prevalent areas so that they are not infected by malaria? My question is, though the data was used for a good purpose, is this not mass surveillance? Is mass surveillance not one of the critical issues informing 2014 Internet Governance Debate? Why did this not catch the eye of many Africans?

At the 24th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Civil society organisations presented the “International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance,” a set of standards that interpret States’ human rights obligations in light of new technologies and surveillance capabilities. The Principles are endorsed by over 260 civil society organisations around the world, and for the first time set out an evaluative framework for assessing surveillance practices in the context of international human rights law.

Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, while at the event, was of the opinion that: “technological advancements have been powerful tools for democracy by giving access to all to participate in society, but increasing use of data mining by intelligence agencies blurs lines between legitimate surveillance and arbitrary mass surveillance.”

Joining the High Commissioner was Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, who recently released a report which details the widespread use of state surveillance of communications, stating that such surveillance severely undermines citizens’ ability to enjoy a private life, freely express themselves and enjoy their other fundamental human rights

These sentiments have also been echoed by the UN Secretary-General.

There are questions that I feel ought to be answered is how such crucial data is obtained from 15 million Kenyans and yet one can only receive such data if one is a Kenyan Citizen according to Kenyan Law.

Dilma Rousseff, Brazillian President is of the opinion that surveillance a ‘breach of international law’ “Friendly governments and societies that seek to build a true strategic partnership, as in our case, cannot allow recurring illegal actions to take place as if they were normal. They are unacceptable.”

Late November 2013, the issue of mass surveillance was discussed at the U.N. General Assembly level which also took a critical step in passage of a resolution which viewed mass surveillance as a human rights violation on the right to privacy
In Conclusion, African Countries ought to take a leading role in Internet Governance as this affects Africa too. This can include methods which are not limited to:
1.  Sending experts to High Level Internet Governance meetings instead of junior officials with little to no knowledge of the discussion matter.
2.  Using a multi-stakeholder format to consults with their citizens.
3.  Passing of relevant laws such as Data Protection and Freedom of Information to assist African Citizen.

Human rights on the internet: Dot feminist resistance and prevention of Technology-related forms of gender based violence.

We live in a world where we are now almost able to do everything online that we normally do offline. The same rights that apply offline have been argued that they apply online in a similar manner with little to no modifications.

On September 2, 2013; I read that “YouTube Removes Feminist ‘Blurred Lines’ Parody By Auckland University Students”. YouTube however changed their mind and the video is back online after public outcry:

In my Opinion, The Feminist ‘Blurred Lines’ Parody by Auckland University Students is not offensive. The video is only a repetition of the Original video only this time with Ladies playing the role of Men in the Original Video. In the Parody, Adelaide Dunn, Olivia Lubbock and Zoe Ellwood have interesting lyrics, “If you want to get nasty, just don’t harass me. You can’t just grab me. It’s a sex crime. We don’t want it, it’s chauvinistic.”

The action of removing the parody was wrong, and one can almost relate YouTube’s actions to those of hackers who shut down Adria Richard’s employer’s website after she tweeted a photo of two men making sexist comments at PyCon, a conference for Python coders in the United States.

One can read more about Adria Richard here and here: “Her story, though devastating, is unfortunately neither shocking nor unique to the thousands of women technologists around the world. The increasingly dominant role of technology as well as the shifting dimension of the internet into a social space have brought forth new forms of familiar attacks against women for the most basic of actions – from self-expression to calling out sexist behaviour, from taking on leading positions to advocating for gender justice.”

Robin Thicke and His Song “Blurred Lines has created a lot of debate such as as these articles: “Top Ten Interesting Things About Robin Thicke and His Song “Blurred Lines,” With a Special Focus on the Various Sexual, Cultural, Legal, and Racial Controversies It Has Spawned”, “10 Songs Whose Sexual Politics Are More Troubling Than “Blurred Lines”, “How to Talk With Your Sons About Robin Thicke”, “I Know You DON’T Want It – The Ban on ‘Blurred Lines’ and Why Other Universities Should Do the Same”, “Blurred Lines: the most controversial song of the decade”, “Thicke: “Blurred Lines” intended to be derogatory towards women” , “‘Robin Thicke hate is heavy here’ at #SlutWalk 2013 [photos]” and “Reading between the “Blurred Lines”- what’s wrong with Thicke’s ‘song of the summer

The video has also been banned by various student unions such as Edinburgh, University College London, among other Universities.

The Original Video was also removed by YouTube but it went back online. After these actions, one can only wonder what role do Intermediaries have in prevention of gender based violence.

3 things to do to prevent Technology-related forms of gender based violence:

1. The need to involve more men in Campaigns:
There are various campaigns (such as those carried out by APC) going on to build capacity of women on issues related to online Violence Against Women but involving more men ensures that the efforts carried out have a wider impact in the society.
Last year, British Prime Minister stated that he is a male-feminist and this sure did create a great deal of debate which was a boost for feminists around the world. If all of us who are involved in the campaign against gender based violence involve more men who are influential in our societies we could have greater change in the attitudes of our people.

2. The need to clearly define the role of Online intermediaries:
There is a lot of debate going on here and here among other places about the role of intermediaries and violence against women online and the views are very diverse and most arguments make a lot of sense. My fellow author at Global Voices Online, Jillian York, is of the opinion that “Facebook Should Not be in the Business of Censoring Speech, Even Hate Speech.” In my opinion, Intermediaries have a role to play but this should not be done at the expense of freedom of expression, they should carry out a case by case analysis since even freedom of expression is not absolute as there are various limitations to it.

3. The need to train service delivery institutions on Online #VAW
In my 2nd year of Law School, I worked on a research paper on workplace sexual harassment Law in Kenya. I was disappointed to find out in this article, “Kinyuru Munuhe, ‘Top Cops face jail over Sexual harassment’ The People, 23 August, 2013, 1” that Sexual harassment is a big problem in Kenyan Workplaces and this does not only affect civilians but also Law enforcement Officers who are supposed to be arresting sexual offenders. The Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) Chairman Maina Njeru disclosed that sexual harassment against female officers in the police service has become a major problem with sex being used to influence transfers, promotions, deployment and general posting.
This has also affected Kenya’s Judiciary as seen in an article here.
There is thus an urgent need to train service delivery institutions such as the Police, the Judiciary and Service Delivery Institutions about Online Gender Based Violence. This can be done through inclusion of prevention against online GBV in their training sessions.

#Kenyaat 50: Kenyans Celebrations of 50 Years of Independence

The Republic of Kenya celebrated 50 years of independence from Britain on December 12, 2013.

As part of the celebrations for 50 years of independence, some users on Twitter started the hashtag #Kenyaat50 to discuss their feelings during these important celebrations:

@GdnDevelopment: A mingled yarn of good and bad: #KenyaAt50 in pictures http://gu.com/p/3y4qn/tw  pic.twitter.com/1HWSWsGWSd

A mingled yarn of good and bad: #KenyaAt50 in pictures

A mingled yarn of good and bad: #KenyaAt50 in pictures

Kenyans compared some of the speeches of the 3 previous Kenyan Presidents with the current 4th President and were dissapointed that they all promised to fight hunger, which they did not:

@marcusolang: “50 years on, still hungry.” Discuss. #KenyaAt50 pic.twitter.com/juzrwnlroq

"50 years on, still hungry." Discuss. #KenyaAt50 pic.twitter.com/juzrwnlroq
“50 years on, still hungry.” Discuss. #KenyaAt50 pic.twitter.com/juzrwnlroq

Kenyans also used the ocassion to remind themselves of modes of transportation that have exsisted in the Country since Independence:

@KResearcher: Stagecoach had 20 of these double decker buses #KenyanHistory #KenyaAt50 pic.twitter.com/R7Wb4WTMxQ

Stagecoach had 20 of these double decker buses #KenyanHistory #KenyaAt50 pic.twitter.com/R7Wb4WTMxQ

Stagecoach had 20 of these double decker buses #KenyanHistory #KenyaAt50 pic.twitter.com/R7Wb4WTMxQ

Some Kenyans were however not happy that the government spend 500 Million Kenya Shillings (5.8 Million USD) for that single day:

@SokoAnalyst: If you agree that the 50 year celebrations at Kasarani are a sham, not worth 500M please Rt this. #KenyaAt50

The Kenyan Independence Day celebrations coincided with a football match between Kenya and Sudan, where the match was delayed as the Sudan Team was detained at their hotel over unpaid hotel bills. Kenyans used #IccDerby to remind themselves that both Kenyan and Sudan Political Leadership had ongoing cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC):

@Abdidi: “@KTNKenya: Update: #Sudan national team which is to play Kenya in the CECAFA finals this evening is being detained in a Hotel” #ICCDerby

@mhqlay: Damn! #ICCDerby — Kenya vs Sudan — kick off time moved to 6pm, says CECAFA sec gen, Musonye who adds that he’s used to hearing rumours

@nickkiriinya: Sudanese players smeared with tar on face as part of #iccderby witness protection…@willisraburu is gonna expose u though

Kenya won the football match but some Kenyans could only attribute it to the detaining of the Sudan Players:

@RobstarKaris: The #ICCderby taught us a lesson, if you want Harambee Stars to win a match, lock the opponent in a hotel for 24hrs #KenyaAt50

Some Kenyans also reflected on the challenges that Kenya faces despite the 50 years of Independence Celebrations:

 @marcusolang: (while quoting Willy Mutunga, Kenya’s Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court) “[We live in a country where] criminals command a disproportionate voice and space.” – Willy Mutunga. #KenyaAt50

@marcusolang: (while quoting Willy Mutunga, Kenya’s Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court) “[There is a] grotesque inversion of values where truth is subverted & evidence is gutted at the slightest hint of inconvenience.” – Mutunga

@marcusolang: (while quoting Willy Mutunga, Kenya’s Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court) “Heroes and heroines become villains, those who do right are made to play defence rather than offence.” – Willy Mutunga. #KenyaAt50

KTN Kenya analyzed the degenerating challenges facing kenya 50 years after Independence through their Youtube channel:

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIrcbq9NgM4]

A deadly terrorist attack occurred in the evening of 12th December, 2013 after the Independence Day Celebrations:

@sickolia_: The Afterparty for #KenyaAt50 is a Grenade attack. Smfh!

@Izaika: @sickolia_ the cops were busy celebrating #KenyaAt50 and protecting the bigwigs the forgot about #wanjiku [common citizens]

@M_Thaus: @sickolia_ @Izaika Its not that they forgot, they didnt care

Unfortunately the Terrorist attack was planned as the medical workers were on strike over salary matters. Kenyans used the hashtag #Sickat50 to express their displeasure at the state of affairs in the health Sector:

@bonifacemwangi: Is the president aware doctors are on strike? I hope he will mention a solution on his speech. #Sickat50

@SokoAnalyst: #SickAt50 #StupidAt50 #DupedAt50 but still #MyKenya. That means its up to me to do my part for a better Kenya.

Some Kenyans decided to ignore all the negative news going on in Kenya at blogged about positive memories from their childhood:

Elizabeth blogged Kenya@50: 50 things that say you grew up in Kenya:

  1. When you were a kid, Christmas meant new clothes, chapatis and cousins. Who the hell cared about a Christmas tree?

3. Your mum, at one point, bought your school uniform(s) a size bigger so that you would grow into it.

7. You’ve called a house help “Auntie” and a guard/watchman “Soldier” or “Boss” at some point.

26. You’re registered for M-Pesa or some other mobile money transfer service.

39. You dutifully go to church every Sunday believing that you have been cleansed for another week of debauchery.

48. You call a swimsuit a “swimming costume”.

African Union Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The African Union (AU), the single largest organization of states in Africa, marked its 50th anniversary from May 25 to 27, 2013 at its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, sparking debate among Africans throughout the continent over the organization’s relevance and effectiveness.

The AU began as the Organisation of African Unity, founded on May 25, 1963 with 32 members. Though often criticised for the inability to enforce its decisions, the organisation played a key role in ending colonial rule on the continent through its aid to rebel groups.

After the African Union replaced the Organisation in 2001, many of the same criticisms – that the union had little real power to tackle the poverty and conflict afflicting the continent – have followed. The AU now has 54 member states.

African Union 50th anniversary logo. Image from African Union Website: http://www.au.int/

African Union 50th anniversary logo. Image from African Union Website: http://www.au.int/

The anniversary celebrations encouraged discussions among Africans who followed the events online and dignitaries, civil society, and the youth present. These discussions explored challenges faced by the AU and the successes that it has had.

Webster Madanhi in a blog post at Freedom Trapped commented on AU’s successes:

To many Africans, the greatest achievement of the organisation in 50 years has been its ability to stay together at all. If anyone thinks that mine is a harsh verdict, let him be reminded that Africans still need visas – often expensive and time-wasting – to visit each other’s countries.

During an assembly on intergenerational dialogue for children and youth, which was part of 50th anniversary celebrations, Zambian president Michael Sata opposed the idea of one passport for African citizens arguing that it will encourage crime on the continent.

A number of Africans used Twitter to talk about the successes and challenges of the African Union.

Student and amateur photographer Abdul Sharif (@Africathinker) wondered about a single African passport:

@Africathinker: Imagine having a single African passport and currency? #AUat50 #Africaday #Panafricanism

Writer, speaker, and teacher Sunny Bindra (@sunnysunwords) noted that Pan-Africanism means more than getting together for conferences:

@sunnysunwords: #PanAfricanism is not about more conferences; it’s about fewer controls, more exchanges of knowledge, capital and products.

Analyst Abdi Hakim (@Abdihakim) refuted claims that the AU has not achieved anything:

@Abdihakim: False the assertion that @AUC_DPA hasn’t achieved anything. Look Somalia it basically pick up from the scratch. Proud #panafricanism

However, others such as financial consultant Ngarawa Gichumbi Sam (@GichumbiSam), were critical of the AU:

@GichumbiSam: To me, AU is the best organ to shape Africa into Pan-Africanism but today’s congregants at Addis Ababa are MISPLACED to make [International Criminal Court] an agenda.

His tweet came after some African leaders accused the court of targeting African leaders:

@IamEtiks: AU leaders accuses #ICC of race hunting…..

African leaders have urged the ICC to refer back to Kenya the crimes-against-humanity case against its leaders. ICC President Sang-Hyun Song has refuted claims that the court is targeting African leaders.

Michelle Rosentall, a citizen journalist based in the US, sent a video to the African Union to be viewed during the celebrations.

Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance is a bold step towards “providing Africa with a chance for renaissance and outline its vision and mission for 2063,” the AU boasted ahead of the celebrations.

Only time will tell whether the African Union will promote unity, solidarity and cooperation of African States to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa.

This article was originally published on Ephraim’s professional page on Global Voices Online.

Kenyans Wake Up to ATM Fraud Scare on Christmas

On Christmas day, a number of Kenyan ATM users tweeted that they had received alerts that there had been fraudulent activity on their bank accounts. The alerts detailed “unusual withdrawal activity” for Kenyans who banked with Standard Chartered, Barclays, Kenya Commercial Bank and Stanbic:

@maina_bejamin: Not a very Merry Xmas to Stanchart, KCB, Barclays and Stanbic customers whose accounts have been defrauded in that massive ATM scam. Poleni [I am sorry]

Logo of Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB).

@TerryanneChebet: RT @gkogolla: RT @gmeltdown: Just got my Stanchart ATM PIN stolen/changed and cash withdrawn. People CHANGE your PIN numbers!!

@MisterAlbie: Stanchart account holders in Nairobi will be clocking impressive marathon timings as they dash to the nearest ATM to change their PIN.

However, some Kenyans were skeptical about the claims and went ahead to tweet their doubts about the developing story:

@Paapa_: Peeps who are planning to overspend then blame it on stanchart, we see you

There have been calls for the banks to block ATM withdrawals until they sort the mess out:

@bintiM: Is it possible for Stanchart to block ATM withdrawals until they sort this out? It’s gotten crazy

There has been no official communication from bank officials and all that Kenya’s ATM users can do is change their ATM pin numbers.

Working for a Truly United East African Community Political Federation

Written By: Ephraim Percy Kenyanito

Countries: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Topics: Youth, Students, East African Community, Debate, Regional Integration, Political Integration

Is a truly united East African region possible? The youth believe it is.

In August in Arusha, Tanzania, a two-day East African Community University Students Debate sought to examine the role youth envisioned themselves playing in the rapidly changing region. The event was organised by the East African Community Secretariat in partnership with the Nyerere Peace Centre and the German Development Cooperation.

It was aimed at bringing 29 East African youth participants together with representatives from academia, private sector, civil society, media and technocrats from the East African region to discuss issues centred on understanding the benefits and challenges of regional political integration in East Africa.

This year’s 1st EAC University Students Debate placed great emphasis on the forthcoming East African Community (EAC) Political Federation. This ultimate goal was received with both positive and negative reactions.

The 29 East African youth participants, representatives from academia, private sector, civil society, media and technocrats from the East African region pose for a group photo session at the new EAC headquarters. Photo by Robert Malemo.

More Opportunities vs. Shared Responsibility

On one side of the debate there are the East African youth who believe that pushing for EAC Political Federation would enhance more economic, social and political opportunities for youth in the region. On the other side, East African youth are continually aware of the fact that some countries would have to help shoulder the burdens of other member states in the impending EAC Political Federation.

In his keynote, Mr Philip Wambugu, Director of Infrastructure, EAC Secretariat (who was Representing the Secretary General), said East African youth – leaders of tomorrow – ought to understand the East African Community integration process to ensure a more united East African Community.

The East African youth should be fully engaged when advancing any cause relating to the East African Community integration process.

“Lack of employment opportunities are just but some of the challenges that the East African youth need to be involved in addressing,” Wambugu said.

On his part, Magoma Anthony, a participant from Tanzania, said: “Without taking caution, the envisioned East African Community Political Federation could easily collapse especially since ordinary citizens have not been fully involved in the integration process and are thus not aware of the benefits that the Political Federation would bring.”

His sentiments are also echoed in the video below by Abraham Kibwana, a lecturer at the University of Arusha, and Stephen Onyango Odipo, a student at the university’s Faculty of Business:

High points

One of the high points for the participants was the Peer Mentoring group discussions and the Q&A session session. This was the most exciting learning method used at the debating event. Imagine being in three discussion groups and competing to answer general knowledge questions about the EAC on limited time.

The second high point for most of the debaters was that they did not compete country against country. Instead, the EAC Secretariat divided them into two groups of proposition vs. opposition, each with three participants from each of the five countries.

Shaping a sustainable and more stable East African region

At the end of the forum, Isabelle Waffubwa, Principal Political Affairs Officer at the EAC Secretariat, expressed hopes that participants were able to exchange ideas on how East African Youth can be more involved in shaping a sustainable and a more stable East African Region.

In order to address some of these concerns highlighted during the debate, different ministries within the East African Community are currently involved in various campaigns in order to involve the citizens in the integration process.

One of these is the East Africa Community Inter-University Facebook Challenge. It is a simple challenge: you only need to “like” the page (Connect, Vuka Border), write your name, phone number, and university. You will be required to be posting, “liking” and commenting on other university members’ updates consistently. All posts should be about EAC integration: its four pillars of services, goods, capital and land; benefits of integration and how best citizens can take part. The theme is to: connect, interact and integrate. You also need to follow @cvukaborder on twitter.

The reward for winners includes a two-week fully sponsored tour of East African cities.

This campaign is one of the efforts of integration whereby countries are forming regional integrations in order to better provide services to their citizens. Though this process is not envisioned to be an easy pie, such events indicate that East Africans are working for a truly united East African Community Political Federation.

This article was originally published on Ephraim’s professional page on European Journalism Centre Online Magazine ThinkBrigade. Photo by Robert Malemo and video by the author.

Kenya: Money Can Buy Us Declare ‘Campus Divas for Rich Men’

Written By: Ephraim Percy Kenyanito

Countries: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Topic: Arts & Culture, Youth, Citizen Media, Women & Gender, Digital Activism

This post also available in:

አማርኛ
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ኬንያ፤ ራሳቸውን ገንዘብ-ይገዛናል ብለው ያሉ ቡድኖች ‘የካምፓስ ቀውጢ-ቺኮችን ለሀብታሞች’ አቀረቡ

Malagasy
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Kenya: Afaka Mividy Antsika Ny Vola Hoy Ny ‘Campus Divas for Rich Men’

Español
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Kenia: El dinero sí puede comprarnos declaran las ‘Divas universitarias’

Italiano
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Kenya: pagina Facebook innesca discussioni tabù su giovani e sessualità

Français
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Kenya : "L’argent peut nous acheter", une page Facebook qui fait du buzz

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肯亞:金錢買得到我們 – ‘專屬多金男的校園女神’

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肯尼亚:金钱买得到我们 – ‘专属多金男的校园女神’

Campus Divas For Rich Men is a Facebook page dedicated to hooking up female Kenyan university students under the age of 26 with rich men of any age. The page has used the slogan “Money can buy us.”

After receiving coverage on Kenya’s radio stations such as Kiss 100, Hot 96 and Classic 105 as well as exclusive coverage by Standard Newspaper, Daily Nation and Kenya’s KTN and K24 television stations; netizens created the following hashtags to discuss the Facebook page and share their opinions about it: #campusdivasforirchmen, #HakunaKituUtafanya (there is nothing to do), #CandidatesBetterThanRomney, #TeamMafisi [teamhyena], #wordszawazito [wordoftherich], #Kiss100 and #KOT.

Picture of Facebook Page of Campus Divas for Rich men. Photo by asselo.wordpress.com

Other netizens took to their blogs and YouTube to either condemn or support this bold move in a predominantly conservative society. The debate about the page has brought up issue such as social media monitoring, HIV/AIDS, religion and African customs, opportunities for Kenyan youth, poverty, greed and peer pressure among Kenyan university students.

According to Kenyaforum:

The page which was created on 3rd July 2012, has already garnered 50,684 ‘likes’ with 65,830 visitors talking about it.

Kenyanlist, a Kenyan blogger, points out that:

It had been thought that the pictures posted by the administrator are random internet images, but Kiss 100 callers yesterday confirmed that they recognize some of those girls as their friends.

But Solomonirush says that the page is all but a ploy by some canny netizens to take advantage of young Kenyan students. The blogger reports:

My investigations reveal that this page, and probably others of the same kind, is administrated by canny people seeking to make money. They organize unions, by connecting the rich men to the campus girls and charge some fee for them to give contacts. I have also seen other pages where dating and sex is the subject of concern, and due to the high number of likes by the audience, they charge to do advertisements on the page. The cunning administrators expose the young students, who are willing to adventure, into perils of sexual abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and kidnapping.

The social media buzz about the page has led those opposing it to create a Facebook group called Anti-Campus Divas for Rich Men.

A Kenyan blogger, Kenya-post, reports:

The second group, Anti-Campus Divas for Rich Men operates on contrary principles of the first one. As the first preaches sex, sex, sex and cash, it promotes chastity and encourages young people to abstain. Whereas the first group rides high with over 20,000 likes in there Facebook page, the Anti- Campus Divas for Rich Men only has 5,000.

Other Facebook pages opposed to Campus Divas For Rich Men include Decent Divas Against “Campus Divas for Rich Men” and Dislike Campus Divas for Rich Men, Campus Divas For Broke Men With Rich Love.

A number of Kenyans on Twitter have condemned hypocrisy over their reactions and stated that Kenyans need to vote for leaders who will increase the Higher Education Loans Board Allowance for less well off partners to be able to date the girls:

@clansewe: To all Kenyans railing against the ‘Campus Divas for Rich Men” page, stop your hypocrisy. We all Kenyans have put cash above everything!

@kevoice: We will vote 4 leaders who will increase the HELB [Higher Education Loans Board Allowance] allowance so that we can be able to date Campus Divas 4 Rich Men. #TujipangeKisiasa [let’s organise ourselves politically]

@mwendembae: “@lionsroar101 So now there is a fb page called “anti-campus divas for rich men”. Ha, I’m amused.”was bound to happen #idlers

The YouTube video below is an animation created as a reaction to the on-going debate about the page. It was created by moses otieno who advises campus girls that life is supposed to be experienced in phases and it is foolish to attempt to live through all those phases at once:

These views were echoed by netizens who tweeted their disapproval of the page:

@thatguydavy: Campus divas for rich men……and you wonder why hurricanes are named after women!

@mpalele: The sad part abt this Campus Divas for Rich Men is that they think 50K , coffee java and a trip 2 naivasha is the definition of a rich man.

@rmresh: Campus Divas For Rich Men….desparation at its best….

@nochiel: @savvykenya Please be warned that the abhorrent “Campus Divas For Rich Men” page is using your old profile pic

KTN Kenya, a television station in Kenya, used the YouTube platform to portray the Facebook page as a prostitution ring and campus students interviewed say that this is nothing out of the ordinary:

Campus Divas For Rich Men is so far the boldest move in discussing matters involving Kenyan youth and sexuality openly in such a traditionally conservative society.

This article was originally published on Ephraim’s professional page on Global Voices Online.

A Day in the Life of a Teenage Mother in Kenya

Written By: Ephraim Percy Kenyanito

Countries: Kenya.

Topics: Youth, Students, Teenage Mothers

Njeri sighs as she pulls a three-legged stool to rest after a long day in school.

“I hope by narrating the experiences I go through daily, I will be able to encourage other teen mothers in Kenya so that they know that they are not alone in this long journey,” says Njeri, who requested anonymity to protect her privacy. Her eyes intensely convey her convictions. Her deep sadness is evident.

Njeri, a strong young woman, went on to describe her typical day. Either her eight-month old baby’s loud wail or her Nokia 3310 phone awakens her at six each morning. She bathes her son and changes his ‘nappies’. She describes how every morning before picking her son up from his cradle she remembers his father Ali, whom baby Jimmy resembles distinctly. “We met in our freshman year in the university and after hanging out together for five months, we decided to take our friendship to the next level,” Njeri says.

The ‘morning after’ had been very awkward, she recounts, as it had been their first time and also because Njeri was raised as a Christian while Ali is a Muslim; both religions frown upon teenage love affairs. Sexual education is a topic that is avoided by parents and the community. It is only talked about after a couple has had an “accident,” the term used to describe when a teenager becomes pregnant, and they are then referred to as a bad example.

“I did not know then how to protect myself. I only thought that it is the man who should have protection,” she says, her voice cracking with remorse and tears welling up in her eyes.

“I am the lady who was expected to be submissive as my local pastor had taught in women seminars,” Njeri says.  Consequently, she did not ask Ali if he had protection. Now she is wrestling with the challenges of raising a child, while she is full of teenage dreams. She is not alone.

Many Kenyan students are dealing with the dilemma and it is not getting any easier for them. This is the case because African customs make it taboo to openly discuss reproductive health. Religion, gender and age are some of the most influential factors determining whether or not parents will discuss ways of protecting oneself from unwanted pregnancies.

Teenage mother. Photo: Global Giving.

 

There is a tacit agreement that girls should be taught these sensitive matters by their teachers or religious leaders. The treatment of boys is based on the same concept that they should know what they are doing and therefore completely at fault. In some cases when a girl becomes pregnant, the girl’s father pays a police officer to have the boy arrested and accused of rape regardless of whether the sexual act was consensual or not.

Some 13,000 schoolgirls are kicked out of Kenyan schools every year for being pregnant. These statistics rarely change as there has been little effort to address this trend through a realistic approach. It is baffling for the pastors as well. “We have been left with a responsibility to teach them matters of reproductive health as their parents have shied away due to conservative African customs,” says Pastor Eliud Wafula of Redeemed Gospel Church Eldoret, a church with around 6,000 worshipers.

Prominent on NTV Kenya about the situation of teenage pregnancies in Kenyan schools, the girls are quick to point out that they do not receive adequate information about sex education.

 

 

Njeri says that just like all the teen mothers she knows, the father of her child bolted immediately after the pregnancy and has repeatedly denied responsibility of being the father of Jimmy. These are just some of the challenges Kenyan student mothers face.

There are other difficulties. These include: lack of information to obtain legal redress and ensure that the father provides for the child. In case of a rape , the assailant at times does not face the law due to lack of enough medical centres to provide evidence to the police that the girl was raped.

Another challenge is that teen mothers don’t know how to manage their finances. They lack places where they can learn budgeting skills. There are no programmes to teach the young girls parenting skills, nor encourage them to be independent and not overburden their families with these responsibilities.

Other members of the society ignore the Ministry of Education guidelines on readmission of teenage mothers. Some privately funded religious schools expel pregnant teens. Citizen TV Kenya brought this issue to the attention of their audience, and posted the expose on YouTube:

 

 

The shaming has further repercussions on the young mothers. Njeri describes some added challenges: “This morning, I first went to the kitchen, shook the old Jiko [charcoal burner] in order to ensure that the ashes from the previous night accumulate in the lower level of the burner. I cannot afford to buy a kerosene stove since my father reduced his monthly remittance two months ago to punish me and ensure that I do not make the same mistake again.”

Her father works in Mombasa while she lives in Eldoret with her mother and son. “I finally lit the Jiko after a long struggle while inhaling the choking smoke. I boiled the water and changed Jimmy’s nappies. All this while Jimmy was wailing and my mother had been making futile attempts to calm him down.”

Njeri’s son is not her only responsibility: she also has to prepare meals for her mother, her three other siblings and herself. However she no longer interacts with them freely because she feels embarrassed for being a bad example as a first-born in the family. Their cold behaviour towards her results in a lot of silence and few exchanges of words. Because she is the eldest daughter she walks her siblings to the nearby primary school which is an hour walk away and rushes home to be in the university lecture halls, 25 minutes away by 10:45 am. Jimmy stays with his grandmother.

Njeri would like to live on campus again but because the hostels are congested with four students sharing a 3×4 metre single room it would be difficult to include her son.

It’s not always possible to be on time. “Once, I found my Early Childhood Development 201 Lecturer just exiting the lecture hall. By then I had missed to attend the first two lectures, and just as always, I had to ask the chopi for his notes,”  Njeri recounts, somewhat embarrassed. Chopi is a student who sits in front of the class and answers all the hard questions. She attends one more lecture before lunch break.

While in school, Njeri is not isolated from the choice she made. Ali texts her. He was away from campus with a hangover from partying the previous evening. In the text message, he says he loathes Njeri. He accuses her of playing around and expresses doubts that Jimmy really is his son.

Njeri finally heads home at 5.30pm, breastfeeds Jimmy, washes him, changes his clothes, helps with dinner and does the dishes.

Understandably, it is hard for her to stay awake to study after such a busy day.

Having a male journalist researching this matter is important enough for Njeri to dedicate some of her evening time to the interview, despite her obvious exhaustion. She knows that the next day will be the same as the day before, but hopes that her willingness to tell her story will help other Kenyan students avoid such situation and instead live out their dreams.

Video sources:

Video about teenage Pregnancy and sex education in Kenya: NTV Kenya: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4IcbAd8sOI )

Video about teenage Pregnancies and sex education in Kenya: By Citizen TV Kenya: (Teenage Pregnancies http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3Lao7zioQc&feature=plcp )

 

 

This article was originally published on Ephraim’s professional page on European Journalism Centre Online Magazine ThinkBrigade.

Kenya: Murder of Muslim Cleric in Mombasa Sparks Riots

Written By: Ephraim Percy Kenyanito

Countries: Kenya.

Topics: Development, Human Rights, Law, Religion, War & Conflict, Youth, Politics, Citizen Media

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· Kenia: Asesinato de sacerdote musulmán en Mombasa desencadenó disturbios

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The killing of Aboud Rogo, a controversial Muslim cleric, on August 27, 2012, caused riots and unrest in Mombasa, a coastal city and a main tourist destination in Kenya.

These riots, which started on August 27, 2012 and continued until August 30, 2012, saw more than ten casualties. Following the killing of Rogo and the subsequent riots, netizens took to their blogs and Twitter to discuss issues such as extra judicial killings, human rights, religious tensions and lack of employment opportunities fueling anger among the Kenyan youth in Mombasa.

Riots broke out in Mombasa over the killing of Sheikh Aboud Rogo. Churches, passing vehicles were burned and grenades thrown, causing extensive property damage, injuring people and killing two. Mombasa, Kenya. Photo by lawimwaura, copyright © Demotix (27/8/2012)

More images from Mombasa can be found here.

Eberinyama, a Kenyan blogger, wondered if Rogo’s alleged linkages with al-Shabab (a militant Islamist group that has been making inroads into Kenya) resulted in his killing. He pointed out that:

Aboud Rogo Mohammed was suspected of being a key recruiter for Kenyan Muslims fighting in Somalia. It is not known who shot him, but he was on a United Nations sanctions list for allegedly financing the militant Somali group al-Shabab.

According to The Canuck FireBrand, Rogo’s killing had all the elements of extrajudicial killings that the Kenyan police have earned a reputation for. The blogger reported:

The killing on Monday of Aboud Rogo fits into a pattern of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances of suspected terrorists that is allegedly being orchestrated by Kenyan police, say Kenyan human rights groups… He is the fifth alleged Muslim extremist who has been killed or who disappeared in the last four months, according to human rights campaigners. One corpse was found mutilated and the other four men vanished.

Hassan Omar Hassan, a former deputy head of the government-funded, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, said police had used the strategy of eliminating suspects before.

In a 2008 report, the commission said Kenyan police were to blame for the executions and disappearances of more than 500 people who were suspected of being members of a notorious gang during a crackdown on the gang from June-October 2007.

The police on their part denied any role in the killing and have hinted at the possibility of Rogo having been assassinated either by his rivals or by the members of al-Shabab, the latter possibly having done it to gain sympathy and “galvanise support” among the Muslim youth in Mombasa.

Some netizens on Twitter cautioned that the violence was a ploy to escalate unrest within the country:

Sharon Langat (@MeMyKenya): I am almost certain that the assassination of Sheikh Aboud Rogo is an attempt to put Kenya on the map as chaotic again. Lets not follow suit

Others linked the rioting and unrest to grievances over land ownership and growing frustration and anger among the youth in Mombasa,  given the lack of employment opportunities.

Richard Lough warned that long-standing local grievances in Mombasa could worsen the situation:

The violence could worsen if it taps into long-standing local grievances over land ownership and unemployment, as well as calls by the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) for the coastal strip to secede. The MRC said it was not involved in the unrest.

In this context, Tweets mentioned issues such as youth unemployment and poverty:

Sunny Bindra (@sunnysunwords): Sad to see the young and the stupid ruining #Mombasa for all. Especially themselves. Endless poverty looms

Maria (@MariaOC): “#Rogo #MombasaRiots GOK had you given idle youth some employment then they wouldn’t be masquerading and threatening innocent people aaargh!

Terryanne chebet (@TerryanneChebet):Youth causing Mayhem in Mombasa have nothing to loose, if young people are economically empowered, then perhaps this wouldnt have happened.

Netizens also called for a stop to the religious violence being unleashed on the Christian community as a fallout of Rogo’s killing:

mmnjug (@mmnjug): Threat of religious violence in #Mombasa must be nipped in the bud http://bit.ly/PCkRlT by @wagaodongo cc @ClanSewe@GSquare94

The YouTube video below, recorded by Kenya’s Citizen Television, shows religious leaders from both Christian and Muslim sides and local politicians condemning Rogo’s killing and call for calm:

This move was appreciated by netizens who tweeted their approval of this act of interfaith unity and hoped that this would usher in a better and peaceful coexistence of the two religious communities in Mombasa.

Percy Thairu (@inspiredbizblog): @HassanAliJoho is my favorite politician right now. Going out of his way to ensure peace & reconciliation process in #Mombasa happens ASAP

Paul Kinoty (@arapknoty): Good move #Sheikh Ngao, our society could use more leaders like you. #Mombasa Peace initiative

In this context, the following conversation between two Kenyans on Twitter is worth noting:

Kalunde Kilonzo (@Eunicekkilonzo): #Muslims in #Church way to go #VivaMombasa

Daniel Ongera Nyairo(@Danbelte): It was a good gesture from the Muslim clerics in #Mombasa @eunicekkilonzo

@Eunicekkilonzo: @danbelte yes true…hope it goes beyond the #leaders and to the people as well

@Danbelte: It will.The majority of Muslims and Christians at the coast are peace loving @eunicekkilonzo

@Eunicekkilonzo: @danbelte I come from #Msa and the recent #riots were unexpected…so at this point nothing is #predictable

@Danbelte: All the same,we pray and hope for peace and harmony @eunicekkilonzo

Rogo is the fifth alleged Islamic radical killed in Kenya in 2012. Apart from religious tensions between Muslims and the government in Mombasa, a Mombasa-based separatist group called the Mombasa Republican Council is calling for cessation from Kenya claiming that the Kenyan central government has not done enough to develop the coast.

This article was originally published on Ephraim’s professional page on Global Voices Online.

East African Community (EAC) University Students’ Debate on EAC Political Integration: A Global Citizen’s Perspective

Written By: Ephraim Percy Kenyanito

Countries: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Topics: Youth, Students, East African Community, Debate, Regional Integration, Political Integration

Language: English

Ephraim having lunch immediately after arrival at Arusha City, United Republic of Tanzania with fellow Students from the Higher Institutes of Education in the East African Community (EAC: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda), who participated in the First EAC University Students Debate on EAC Political Integration!

Ephraim having lunch immediately after arrival at Arusha City, United Republic of Tanzania with fellow Students from the Higher Institutes of Education in the East African Community (EAC:  Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda), who participated in the First EAC University Students Debate on EAC Political Integration!

Ephraim Percy Kenyanito, 20, is an Author, a Law Student, Humanitarian and a Social Entrepreneur and founder and project coordinator for “Sauti Kwa Watoto Advocacy and Communications Project” where he uses poems and drama and social media as a tool for communication by street children in Kenya. He also serves as a student intern with Transparency International- Kenya (Advocacy and Legal Advisory Centre) as part of his community outreach.  He is one of the six university students who were selected to represent Kenya at the First EAC University Students Debate on EAC Political Integration in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania as from 22nd-25th August 2012. Read his ‘story’ of how he got selected, the highlights of the event, incredible experiences and lessons he has learnt and want to inspire you with.

In his own words…

Ephraim Percy Kenyanito standing next to the East African Community (EAC) flag.

Ephraim Percy Kenyanito standing next to the East African Community (EAC) flag.

Selection process and journey to the United Republic of Tanzania

I recall when I first heard about the First EAC University Students Debate on regional integration. It was making news through university campus notice boards and through the social media and the call for application was over and over again shared across various networks. This sparked a ball of flames in my heart to at least make an effort and apply. “Wow an ultimate opportunity to network at the EAC regional level!” I told myself. With this enthusiasm, I resolved to do what is required to apply for the program.

I previously worked as the National Organizing Secretary and Deputy-President- Western Province Students’ Council (WPSC) at Kenya Secondary Schools Students’ Council (KSSSC), where on behalf of all secondary students in Kenya, I drafted a petition for “Learner Friendly Schools” to the government of Kenya which was presented to the UNICEF, UNESCO, Kenya’s Vice President and Minister for Home Affairs, Ministers for: Education, Sports & Youth Affairs, Gender, Children and Social Services; NGO Council of Kenya among other private and social stakeholders in the Education Sector.

I was looking for another prospect to learn, share thoughts, interact and network with other young and passionate community activists and social entrepreneurs.

The First EAC University Students Debate on regional integration provided this opportunity and not only that; one could be able to interact with representatives from academia, private sector, civil society, media and technocrats from the East African region who would listen to the debate and make their comments on the strength of the deliberations and make recommendations on the way forward for the programme. The debate would be broadcasted in the EAC media and streamed live.

It took a little while until I received the magic email with a ‘Congratulations Ephraim you have been selected’ from Ms Ethel Sirengo, and Ms Kaboha Barbara both Program Assistants at the Nyerere Peace Centre at the East African Community Secretariat Office in Arusha City, United Republic of Tanzania.

My journey to the United Republic of Tanzania for the First EAC University Students Debate on regional integration began. I identified what I wanted to realize with this opportunity (or I would not have applied in the first place), I shaped my objectives, expectations and anticipations and wrote them down in my little diary and in my heart.

We were emailed a contact sheet with the names and contact details of the twenty nine (29) participants in order to contact each other before hand and to work together in the preparation for the debate. My fellow participants included: Bigirimana Désiré, Ndikumana Anatole, Nindorera Rebecca, Nsengiyumva Callixte, and Ntungane Olenka who were all from Burundi.

Those from Kenya included: Mbedy Milly Minayo, Mutua Jesse Kimani, Nangekhe Elizabeth, Oyombe Julians Amboko, Omondi Edna and Kenyanito Ephraim Percy.

Those from Rwanda Included: Mbembe Aaron Clevis, Mbembe Ye Mbembe (Adolphe), Mbonigaba Callixte, Mugabowindekwe Maurice, Muramira Gachegu and Muramira Hillary.

Those from Tanzania included: Fabian John, Arold Moses, Magoma Anthony, Maro Raymond Callyst, Mbele Frank and Ngilangwa Eric Gordon.

Those from Uganda included: Aboneka Michael, Ateenyi Rachael Kivuna, Kyobutungi Isabel, Muhindo James, Odong Amos and Tayebwa James Bamwenda.

The twenty nine (29) participants, representatives from academia, private sector, civil society, media and technocrats from the East African region pose for a group photo session at the new EAC Headquarters.

The twenty nine (29) participants, representatives from academia, private sector, civil society, media and technocrats from the East African region pose for a group photo session at the new EAC Headquarters.

I chose to contact them and requested them that we form a Facebook group: “East African Community Youth Platform” In which we would share individual experiences and get to know each other before the debate while still in our home countries. The link to the Facebook Group is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/285740971539542/

They responded enthusiastically and I then knew that my objectives, expectations and anticipations were being met as I hoped that I would have the chance of making life-long friendships with my fellow youth who would be participating in the debate and exchange ideas on making EAC a better integrated community and this would go a long way not only into our private friendships but also into establishing a culture of consultation in suggesting policy formulation to our governments and also since I believe some of us will end up in future governments within EAC it would be a great opportunity to network with fellow youth leaders as early as possible.

Learning Experience

Team Kenya members went to this historical tourist site first after arrival in Arusha City, United Republic of Tanzania.

Team Kenya members went to this historical tourist site first after arrival in Arusha City, United Republic of Tanzania.

Arriving in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania on 22nd August, 2012 at 2.00pm with my fellow Kenyans; Mbedy Milly Minayo, Mutua Jesse Kimani, Nangekhe Elizabeth, Oyombe Julians Amboko and  Omondi Edna, we could not help but admit the friendly atmosphere at the city of Arusha. The town was green and thus christened, “Geneva of Africa.” This was unlike the smoky Nairobi that we had left earlier at 8.00 am East African Time.

Team Kenya members (Without Oyombe Julians Amboko) share a light moment at Arusha Declaration Museum).

Team Kenya members (Without Oyombe Julians Amboko) share a light moment at Arusha Declaration Museum).

With the theme of debate being, “understanding the benefits and challenges of regional Political Integration in East Africa”, there could not have been a better time to describe the world in which we live in, countries are forming regional integrations in order to better provide services to their citizens and EAC Youth had to meet and discuss the benefits and challenges of the integration processes. Integration in the EAC indeed is something we ought to embrace especially as young people since it provides numerous opportunities for the 70 million youth out of the 133 million citizens of the East African Community. The obligation lies on us to create the desirable future through our present actions, to develop skills that would aid us remain relevant in a swiftly changing world (a global village) with seemingly overwhelming challenges.

Appreciating that these challenges are still solvable, the First EAC University Students Debate on regional integration made us understand that as young people of East Africa, we cannot afford any inaction, fold our arms and make the same slip-ups the older generation had made. We are young, energetic and resilient. It is definitely our time! Let’s make the East African Community a better place through Economic, Socio-Cultural and Political Integration.

The interactions over coffee and lunch breaks gave me the opportunity to speak to the other 28 Youth Leaders from the East African Community Partner states. This gave me the opportunity to view East Africa differently. It was like looking through eye glasses of the over 25 country representatives to see and understand East Africa. The event provided the platform to be part of an International Community, to study, network, share concepts and best practices.  All stereotyped sentiments about other countries’ cultures in our thoughts were completely expunged during and after the debate. The effectiveness of such a multi-ethnic educational experience cannot be over-emphasized.

The event was a far-reaching refresher for me. The ice-breakers, and the combination of various excitements (team work activities, networking sessions, sketches, individual and team presentations, interactive talks, Q & A sessions, tours around Arusha, Peer Mentoring group discussions) made the learning experience permanent and truly memorable. It was great learning from Ms Heidtmann Miriam, Programme Manager, EAC- GIZ Programme on Promotion of Peace and Security, Ms Isabelle Waffubwa, Principal Political Affairs Officer at the EAC Secretariat, Mr Philip Wambugu, Director of Infrastructure, EAC Secretariat (Representing the Secretary General) John Sibi- Okumu (facilitator), Lilian Muchoki of Nyerere Peace Centre, Robinson Malemo of Kenya Airports Authority, Donald Deya, Executive Director of Union Panafricaine des Avocats, Velenina Gancheva of GIZ- EAC Programme on Promotion of Peace and Security, Bob Odiko, Senior Public Relations Officer, East African Legislative Assembly, Mr Aloysius Chebet, of EAC Secretariat,

Mr Amani Mwatoroka, Official Political and Security Affairs at the United Republic of Tanzania’s Ministry of The East African Community,Mr Peter Chege Kamau, Assistant Director Regional Integration (Social Affairs) at the Republic of Kenya’s Ministry of The East African Community, Ms Taima Lydia Munganyinka of East Africa Law Society and many others.

I was able to catch up with some of the organizers and students, and representatives from academia, private sector, civil society, media and technocrats from the East African region both supporting the proposition and the opposition sides of the debate and interviewed them on the video below:

Highpoints

The highpoint for me was the Peer Mentoring group discussions and Q & A session session that took place on August 24, 2012. This was the most exciting learning method used at the debating event. Imagine being in 3 discussion groups and competing to answer general knowledge questions about the EAC while on a limited time.

The second highpoint for most of the debaters was that we did not compete country versus country but rather the EAC Secretariat divided us into two groups of proposition verses opposition each with 3 participants from each of the five countries. We were further divided into 3 sets whereby you had to work in a group of 5 students with students from each of the 5 EAC partner states and compete against another team with the same composition of students. The best three teams would later receive prizes.

Team Kenya 2012 in full: From front Left: Mbedy Milly Minayo, Nangekhe Elizabeth, Omondi Edna. From back left: Mutua Jesse Kimani, Oyombe Julians Amboko and Kenyanito Ephraim Percy.

Team Kenya 2012 in full: From front Left: Mbedy Milly Minayo, Nangekhe Elizabeth, Omondi Edna. From back left: Mutua Jesse Kimani, Oyombe Julians Amboko and Kenyanito Ephraim Percy.

These two were the most insightful and productive time for the students as we all sharpened our team work skills.

The best Team: Arold Moses (Tanzania), Muhindo James (Uganda), Mugabowindekwe Maurice (Rwanda) and Oyombe Julians Amboko (Kenya)

The best Team: Arold Moses (Tanzania), Muhindo James (Uganda), Mugabowindekwe Maurice (Rwanda) and Oyombe Julians Amboko (Kenya)

These highpoints paid off since at the end there were certificates and prizes for the best 5 debaters and best 3 teams. I was lucky to be awarded the best debater by the panel of judges and was also in the 3rd best team out of six.

Ephraim Percy Kenyanito while receiving best debater award from the Deputy Secretary General, Productive and Social Sectors Hon. Jessica Eriyo

Ephraim Percy Kenyanito while receiving best debater award from the Deputy Secretary General, Productive and Social Sectors Hon. Jessica Eriyo

5 of the participants were also named EAC Youth Ambassadors pending approval by EAC policy organs and these students include: Ms. Ntungane Olenka (Burundi), Ms. Milly Mbedi Minayo (Kenya), Mr. Muramira Gashegu (Rwanda), Mr. Raymond Maro (United Republic of Tanzania) and Mr. James Tayebwa Bamwenda (Uganda).

We later had a closing dinner dance Gallery (which we really enjoyed!) on 24th August 2012 after the debate. The awards were given during the dinner.

Mutua Jesse Kimani (Kenya) and Omondi Edna (Kenya) who in my opinion were the best dancers for the night.

Mutua Jesse Kimani (Kenya) and Omondi Edna (Kenya) who in my opinion were the best dancers for the night.

The following slides give a brief overview of the EAC Secretariat:

NCPR Presentation to students 2012

More information on the debate can be found through the EAC website and through traditional mainstream media through these links:

http://www.eac.int/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1082%3A1st-eac-university-debate-draws-to-colorful-close&catid=146%3Apress-releases&Itemid=194&fb_action_ids=486160148080135&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=timeline_og&action_object_map={%22486160148080135%22%3A10151053100208697}&action_type_map={%22486160148080135%22%3A%22og.recommends%22}&action_ref_map=[]

http://www.eac.int/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1079:1st-eac-university-debate-on-political-integration-kicks-off&catid=146:press-releases&Itemid=194

http://newsroom.iu.ac.ke/Student_attends_EAC_Universities_Debate

http://musingsofanairobian.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-east-african-community-integration.html

http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/views/article_print.php?i=15095&a=57510&icon=Print

http://news.eac.int/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=759:eac-1st-university-debate&catid=48:eac-latest&Itemid=69

http://touch.dailynews.co.tz/index.php/local-news/8853-eac-youths-vital-in-regional-integration

http://www.trademarkea.com/site/default.asp?000=1&001=23&003=news&004=1279

http://allafrica.com/stories/201208240601.html

http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?i=15097&a=57554

http://allafrica.com/stories/201208250318.html

http://www.silobreaker.com/east-africa-eac-students-want-slow-political-federation-process-5_2265929166241136687

Post-debate activities

When we packed our bags and departed from Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania on August 25, 2012; we each had an idea on what to build from the debate and are currently working on attaining our individual goals.

Post-debate plans are to build on our current individual projects and to ensure that our community involvement activities stretch beyond our national borders and to collaborate with other EAC Youth Leaders in Youth Projects.

Each of the 29 participants (regardless of whether they opposed or supported the motion) are charged with the post-debate responsibility of being EAC Youth Ambassador and should create social awareness about the EAC Integration process through any legal and available means they can access.

Oyombe Julians Amboko has done this very well through writing letters to editors in major newspapers within the EAC and his most recent article can be accessed through: http://www.the-star.co.ke/opinions/others/92118-why-eac-integration-is-imperative

Others who have taken their new responsibilities with a lot of energy include those from Tanzania: Magoma Anthony, and Maro Raymond Callyst; who were recently hosted in East Africa Radio engaging the youth into the EAC Debate.

The First EAC Tanzanian Youth Representatives start their work at East Africa Radio engaging the youth into the EAC Debate.

The First EAC Tanzanian Youth Representatives start their work at East Africa Radio engaging the youth into the EAC Debate.

If you are a young person from the East African Partner states and you have just read this, I am charging you with this wake up call. You cannot let your visions and determination die while you have been endowed with the opportunities to be all you can be through the East African Community Integration. If you have not discovered your purpose yet, you have got to do so and begin to toil. Take that footstep, take that possibility, take that dare and be industrious.

Our generation needs you and the change we dream about which will be created in the EAC Partner states only YOU can help create!

Special thanks go to the EAC- GIZ Programme Officials, the panel of 5 judges, the invited representatives from academia, private sector, civil society, media and technocrats from the East African region who listened to the debate and made their comments on the strength of the deliberations and made recommendations on the way forward for the programme and the entire Nyerere Peace Centre and EAC Secretariat team for an incredible First EAC University Students Debate experience.

Written By: Ephraim Percy Kenyanito

Kenya: Will Citizen Media participate to ensure peaceful elections in Kenya in 2012-13?

Kenya: Will Citizen Media participate to ensure peaceful elections in Kenya in 2012-13?

Written by: Ephraim Kenyanito

Country: Kenya

Topics: Elections, Peace, Citizen Media

Language: English

During Kenya’s general elections of 2007, residents of this East African nation went into post-election violence.

Ushahidi’s Ory Okolloh, David Kobia, Julia Rotich and Eric Hersman saw these developments as an opportunity to launch a website that would ensure leverage is achieved by citizen media during the post-election violence.

The results of this website were the best demonstration of the immense power that the world’s citizen journalists can have and how they can facilitate empowerment and community self-sufficiency.

While many Kenyans are unsure of whether there will be peace during Kenya’s elections of 2012-13, it seems that the online community is trying to encourage the citizen media to play a proactive role in encouraging peaceful elections and not just reporting on the outcome of the elections.

Alice W. Munyua is of the opinion that in order to prevent the extent and power of genocidal information is to have more positive and analytical information. Sarah Bakata shares the same view and even goes to the extent of stating that election violence was hatched in the Kenyan blogosphere.

Apart from providing positive and analytical information, in order to ensure peaceful election in Kenya in 2012-13, citizen media can provide early warning signs as Patrick Meir states in his case study on the role of citizen journalists in crisis environments.
Actions of David Kobia to shutdown Mashada after it became overwhelmed with divisive and hostile messages are just but some suggestions of radical measures that citizen media can take in order to ensure peaceful elections in Kenya in 2012-13. His subsequent launch of the site “I have no Tribe” should be a wakeup call to all citizen media that his was the first step that we need to take in the journey to peaceful elections in Kenya in 2012-13.

This task is being addressed by many global citizen journalists and Picha Mtaani is one notable initiative that seeks to “train and equip a new generation of Kenyan journalists to produce professional-quality alternative media content on issues that matter most.

The most important challenge for citizen journalists; is to ensure peaceful elections in Kenya in 2012-13. If each of us in this community takes steps to ensure peace in maintained, then there shall be lasting peace indeed.

Written by: Ephraim Kenyanito.