Theme: What Policies would You Change/Introduce?

Deadline: May 26th, 2012

Public and Private Policies and Administrative Protocols: What We Want To Change/What We Can Do.


Some of the first concerns that are taken into account before formulations of any sound policies are the objectives (the final goals) that parties involved or an institution wants to achieve. We naturally expect that if the goals are clear and possible, then the process of formulating and enforcing these policies should be less tedious and complicated and that these policies should be at least effective once put into practice.

But taking a look at how our Kenyan society functions, this natural expectation is violated on many levels. Can we proudly or honestly claim that there is sufficient hope in the mechanisms of the diverse network of policies that have been put in place to govern our social behavior and development? In short, how grateful are we (you in particular) to our policy-makers?

Of course there has been some progress felt in our society since we gained independence. But should we be satisfied with current affairs; should we be happy that at least we got a few drizzles when we could have drenched ourselves with a rain pour?

If we cannot compare ourselves economically with countries like Sri Lanka and Malaysia though we were pretty much at the same level of social and economic growth in the 1960s, can we, as a way to negate (deny) our embarrassment and slackness, use economically devastated states like Somalia as standards to measure our progress? (Som-friends, it is in good faith that we’ve mentioned your country.) We can if our goal is to compete with countries like Somalia. But if our goals are different, then we won’t be justified by these standards.

From the “Matatu[1]” sector, to health facilities, to education curriculums and to judiciary systems, what great thing(s) can you point out about these social amenities that our society could be content with? Transportation ordeals (potholes, Matatu strikes, fare hikes), congestion in the scarce and very far-between hospitals, high suicide rates and lack of accommodation for students with disabilities (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, ADD/ADHD, etc.) in schools, and inexplicable unhygienic conditions in our prisons, without mentioning ethnic violence and propaganda, all these modes of existence can surely break a camel’s back, how about the fragile Kenyan backbone?

When you as a Kenyan say, “Najivunia Kuwa Mkenya[2]”, is it because your backbone, somehow in a mysterious way, has defied the natural laws and has been able to endure these enormous social pressures and inadequacies though your strength cannot be equaled to a camel’s? What are you really proud of? Or is it about a few individuals (athletes, renowned writers like Ngugi wa Thiong’o) whose courageous and unwavering acts have triumphed not only local but also international challenges? If this is the case, then your anthem should be changed rather to, “Nawavunia Wakenya so and so…[3]

To invoke the common expression “Najivunia Kuwa Mkenya” means that by virtue of your citizenry you have been a recipient of actions that elicit pride and that you are crediting your country for these happenings. The above paragraphs have tried to disprove this fact. As an individual ought to earn his or her pride, so should public administrators. This applies to Complacency (both individual and national) too; everything must be justified.

There are many ways we can work toward realization of this common adage. One way is first pointing out the various social challenges and the inefficacies of existing policies. If you feel the urge to break loose your window glass and shout at the top of your voice about dissatisfaction with our social amenities, we recommend that you don’t, because at the end the episode, once you have let go your frustrations, you will have a broken window to repair.

A much safer and more effective way will be to sit down and put down all your frustrations and suggestions on a piece of paper and share your thoughts with other concerned souls; you are not alone. This is one way you too can be of the same caliber, or at least follow the footsteps, of distinguished Kenyan individuals like Paul Tergat (athlete) and Ngugi wa Thiong’o (writer).

Take part in this collective project. Arms in arms we will work out a way forward!!!!

Submissions: Send your essays to,


Abaye Steinmetz-Silber-

Jeremy Keim-Shenk-

Immanuel Lokwei-


Best Overall Entry – Christian Parenti’s book, Tropic of Chaos, and Ksh. 10,000 funding to start a social project.

Best High-School Entry – A school fee cheque of Ksh. 8,000

Second Best Entry – Ksh. 5,000 funding to start a social project

Third Best Entry – Ksh. 2,000 funding to start a social project

All top 5 contenders are going to get Paulo Freire’s book PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED.

NB: If the goal of this project is not clear and you would like to be assisted, please don’t hesitate to contact. Good Luck!!!

[1] Public vehicles

[2] Proud to be Kenyan

[3] Supposed to mean, “I am proud of so and so…”

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