It is an interesting time to be in Kenya. The “mastermind” of the 1998 US Embassy bombing was shot at a checkpoint. Squatters are petitioning the government for title to their land. An Olympic gold medalist has died at age 24. The country is gearing up for elections in 2012, which would mean the end of the coalition government that many feel is ineffective. The new constitution is (supposedly) being implemented, and the largest budget in Kenyan history was just determined.
The budget is set at 1.15 trillion Kenyan shillings. That is about $13.2 billion. 15% of that is to be divided up between the 47 counties of Kenya. The constitution states that the budgeting at the county and national level must be participatory, transparent, and accountable. This article explains the budget a bit better.
Hakijamii has been working on government accountability and proper allocation for the past four years. Louis blogged about the People’s Budget last year, and this year it has grown. With the changing constitution, groups like Hakijamii and NPSN wanted to involve the community more. This year, more than 15 groups met multiple times to make suggestions to help the government prioritize the real needs of the people in the settlements.
One final meeting occurred on June 7, 2011. As the budget determination occurred the next day, the meeting served as a last chance to air suggestions and proposals to take to the Minister of Finance, Uhuru Kenyatta. There was a good amount of entertainment throughout the meeting, but my favorite was this group in the video. They were a crowd-pleaser, inciting laughter, cheering and singing. They are calling out to the leaders, Raila and Kibaki, asking for help. It was roughly translated for me, so I will try to pass along the translation.
**Fast facts: Mwai Kibaki is the President, and Raila Odinga is the Prime Minister. The details of the tragic and disputed presidential election of 2007 are too complex to address here, but in short, a power sharing agreement was reached in 2008, creating the post of PM and a coalition government.
In the song, they are asking Odinga (Raila) to throw them up so they can fly, because they can’t afford the price of fuel. They will fly, so long as they get to work. They are asking Kibaki to give them a constitution; even just one chapter, so long as they have a constitution. They are also asking Kibaki to give them land, even a plot sized 10×10, as long as they get the title.
You can also view my photo set on Flickr, which includes some of the stills from the meeting, plus other photos!
Posted By Kristen Maryn
Posted Jun 13th, 2011