Friday, July 30, 2010

Young Kenyan Women Push the YES Agenda

An Eye Witness Account by Onyango Oloo

Woke up this morning (Friday, July 30th) commuting all the way to Freedom Corner of Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi to attend the Warembo Ni Yes! rally organized by a cross section of women's groups across the country.

The momentum built up gradually throughout the morning.

From a few green clad women lolling around the park at around 9 am, by an hour later, things were revving up.

First a vivacious and confident delegation from the Coast rolled in speaking in animated Kiswahili about the proposed constitution. Next from the direction of Haile Selassie Avenue and the Railway Club there was a convoy of mikokoteni (yes, that's right, hand carts!) hauling young women from Eastlands, resplendent in their Warembo ni YES! green t-shirts and matching head gear. Soon, a big patch of the usually green Uhuru Park was suffused even more by that colour as the tens mushroomed into hundreds and more with women, and several men arriving for the procession.

By eleven, the blare of music from a flatbed truck equally covered in green banners and green women could be heard as it traversed the Nyayo House- Parliament section of Uhuru Highway. A very feisty twentysomething young woman who I was later introduced to as DJ Sasha (real name Benter Wasonga) was very busy exhorting women to come out in huge numbers not just to Warembo Ni YES! rally at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre. Volunteers were in the meantime busy handing out flyers listing fourteen reasons why young women should vote YES, apart from handing out stickers supported by the G10 Coalition captioned in Kiswahili "Ili kuhakisha kwamba una haki ya kuishi, piga kura kwa YES" and green plastic bracelets written, " I Vote Yes for Change", not to forget the inevitable Green Cards to counter the Red Cards of the NO campaign.

I was able to collect all these items that I have already started redistributing them to my sisters, female friends and progressive male pals.

The procession which snaked its way down Uhuru Highway, past the Inter-Continental Hotel, down City Hall Way before turning into the open space inside the KICC was a happy one full of vim, vigour and exuberance. Teenage girls were gyrating to dance hall, ragga, genge and other tunes, even as their political mothers were doing energetic ohangla and sukuti moves.

At the rostrum for the distinguished speakers I saw Martha Karua, Esther Passaris and Jayne Kihara to name three high profile Kenyan leaders. Behind the scenes though, people like Zawadi Nyongo,Hakima Abbas,Mumbi (from the Starehe People's Congress) Mary (an activist and former stripper who organizes sex workers, strippers and bar/night club female employees) Sophie Dola and other semi-anonymous grassroots leaders were making sure that the logistics and other necessary coordination was on track.

Unfortunately,I did not stick around for the big speeches which started around mid day because I had another assignment to attend to.

Onyango Oloo
Nairobi, Kenya


Shailja Patel said...

Thanks so much for the vivid images, Oloo! It's especially thrilling to me that we're seeing women speak from every sector - sex workers to politicians.

L. Ibido said...

This article seems to be more appealing. As it is also good to make this speech to give information for others what is happening here.

Unknown said...

What an anti-climax? What other assignment did you have to attend? Queueing outside Raila`s Karen home for handouts? OO you and your buddy MM are a disgrace!!