Social Justice Activist and Blogger.
Members of Bunge La Mwananchi.
Bunge La Mwananchi social movement emerge as critical grassroots social force in the framing and setting agenda for the national debate in kenya as organic social movements in historic moment of our time when Kenya is in the terrain of creating new democratic state with the new constitutional framework that promises hope for social change and democratic liberation, from neo-colonial state order, the struggle for many years from other social movements that have shape struggle of social justice in kenya and Africa.
The article discusses the growth of Bunge La Mwananchi Social Movement from the seeds of the earlier resistance of social movements in Kenya that shaped the struggle for social change in Kenya since the occupation of British Imperial Company in the East Africa in the year 1884, and Subsequent resistance by Africa people, against domination and occupation by colonial settlers that were advancing capitalist-Imperialist interests in Africa.
The article examine the origin and evolution of Bunge La Mwananchi as organic social movement during the era of neo-liberal globalization, it also examine the social base of the movement and its collective action that shapes the movement.
The Writer who is a member Bunge la Mwananchi discuss his experience and the movement relation with human rights and political parties that are in play in the Kenya political and economic social sphere in the process of building the Bunge La Mwananchi as nationwide social movement to bring social transformation and build democratic state in Kenya.
1. History of resistance in Kenya
Bunge la Mwananchi social movement established in early 1990s, as contested social space for debates and discussion on social , political and economic issues by ordinary ordinary Kenyans , (interview with Bunge members) has grown organically from the seeds of earlier resistance, of social movements that shaped and organized social struggle in Kenya since the imperialist forces started establishing their colonial settlement and domination in Kenya between the year 1884 and 1905 as the imperial statue of Her late Majesty queen Victoria stand today in Jeevanjee Gardens, which was presented to town of Nairobi by A.M. Jeevanjee , and unveiled in 1906, by Duke of Connaught as symbol of British imperial expansion and occupation and “goodwill statue” in East Africa, this imperial domination and exploitation was resisted in East Africa by historical social movements , since 1913, to open this front was Mekatilili wa menza resistance that organized by a peasant women an uprising which was the first social movement resistance by the people of Kenya against the British occupation, in her anti-imperialist campaigns mekatilili wa menza urged the Giriama people not to cooperate with foreign occupiers , and refuse to pay taxes or work in the settlement plantations ., While using the peoples assembley, (kaya) a Giriama African traditional village assembly she mobilized and organized resistance, against British occupation that is of the greatest part of our history of resistance against exploitation , Kenya Historian Prof. Maina Wa Kinyattai has documented in his book ( history of resistance in Kenya 1884-2002) When in 1921, first ant- imperialist political organization was formed ,named the East Africa Association (EAA) ,which was organized in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with the help of nascent working class that was developing in in East Africa , during the construction of east African railway. Where the EAA movement advanced the social struggle in opposing colonial occupation ,exploitative taxation and forced labour , it also formed political alliances with Indian anti-imperialist workers front and Young Baganda Association. In the region ,while establishing international constituency for the EAA Movement , that made the movement to be invited to the 2nd Pan- African congress that was held in London in 1921, ( Kenyatti :1884-2002. Page 39) where the EAA Movement created political contact with Pan- Africanist leaders in the, 2nd Pan- African congress that was key in supporting liberation movement in Africa in and highlighting colonial massacre and human rights violations in East Africa region especially in 1921 during a second women lead resistance against forced in 1921 which was lead Mary Muthoni Nyanjiru Upraising at Central police station in Nairobi during the detention of EAA leaders by British colonial government.
The British imperialism , with its superior weaponry and massacre, of our people , and using divide and rule tactics was able to enter in the Kenya interior for the construction of the East African railway and colonial settlement to adverse the interest of British Imperial Company, from port of Mombasa to Lake, Victoria connecting to Buganda land where the British established the Uganda protectorate under British rule, the construction of East Africa railway through Nairobi , gave birth to Nairobi the commercial center which was one of the station of the Uganda railway line and during the construction of the railway and hence the birth of Jeevanjee Gardens park set aside as for Indian traders and middle class that was working for East Africa Railway which today is the social -political space that have anchored Bunge la Mwananchi social movement in the terrain of alternative leadership in modern Kenya.
Bunge La Mwananchi social movement draw from this rich historical resistance lessons that have shaped Kenya from the time the British imperial interest through the East African railway line entered the heart land of Kenya, where there was organized resistance by peasants and workers social movements on exploitation and the communities whose land was being taken by force for colonial settlement, which culminated to anti-imperialist armed struggle by peasants and workers social movements organized around Kenya land and Freedom Army (Mau Mau), in beginning of 1945 after second world war, that caused the British to declare state of emergency, in 1952 a period that saw British colonial security forces commit crime against humanity in Kenya to contain the peasants and workers resistance ,the Mau Mau armed resistance resulted in negotiated flag independence in 1963 under the first prime minister Jomo Kenyatta who was member of Kenya Africa Nationalist Union (KANU) a (Not Yet Uhuru, Jaramogi Odinga 1967)political party that merged with right wing reactionaries forces of Kenya Africa Democratic Union KADU , supported by colonial settlers, which betrayed Mau Mau revolution, by isolating progressive forces in KANU that were organized around Jaramogi Odinga, Pio Gama Pinto and Bildad Kaggia, and there after assassination of Pio Gama Pinto by Kenyatta regime in order to contain the progressive national democratic forces in Kenya and halt the struggle for social change , this undermined the progressive forces which arrested the struggle for building a democratic state in Kenya founded on social justice.
From 1963 after independence Kenya remained an outpost of western imperialism in east Africa region ,as Barrack Obama point in his Boook dreams from my father (page 312)“Kenya became the west most stalwart pupil in Africa ,a model of stability and useful contrast to the chaos of Uganda and the failed socialism in Tanzania” where the book adverse the imperialism propaganda that obscure imperial forces intervention in the in East Africa region that maintained and subsidized neo-colonial order in Kenya and creating chaos in Uganda while undermining social progress in Tanzania .( Prof. Mamdani Imperialism and Fascism in Uganda 1983).( the role of USA and Britain in propping up the Amin fascist regime through Kenya.
Jomo Kenyatta regime was replaced by another incompetent and neo-colonial leader Daniel Moi who was his vice president, through support of key western allies Britain and USA and he became the second President where he assured imperialism , that he would follow the same neo-colonial footsteps as Kenyatta , where he continued with the same neo-colonial policy of model of stability for imperial interest to exploit natural resources, establishing of foreign military bases in Kenya while dividing the countries on tribal lines while intensifying human rights violations , repression and detention of progressive intellectual, students ,peasants and workers, who tried to organize against his dictatorship, in the name of peace love and unity “ stability”, under one-party system , many of those opposed his regime died in torture chambers during that era ,as the late Prof Katama Mkangi expose in documentary we lived to tell “ where he say it was the extension of British torture in Nyayo House” (Ramadhan Khamis Documentary) and many victims who survived lived to tell the cruel and horrible conditions they went through during dark days of Moi regime under ruthless security agencies, in police cell and prisons, where the torture chambers today remain as monument of shame in memory of that hallmark dark history of Kenya as collective right for future generation to know the oppression and torturous journey that our motherland Kenya has lived through, and the price that was paid by patriotic Kenyans to create a democratic space for social movement to organize, like Bunge La Mwananchi Social Movement and there after development of the constitutional reform movement and opposition political parties.
It was until the end of end of 1990s when the Moi regime started to lose the grip of power, due to corruption and ethnic patronage and sharpening of internal contradiction by the ruling class in the KANU party , Pressure from neo-liberal free market forces , IMF and World Bank that were craving for Africa markets after fall of Berlin wall and end of cold war, which intervention gave room for introduction of liberal multi-party politics in Kenya in the early 1990s,which acted as political dose to allow for foreign direct investment, and privatization of state-owned public companies, that have brought a great social upheaval in Kenya this came with a price of opening political space that gave room to human rights pressure groups around demands of respect of human rights and release of detained political prisoners who were being held in various prisons by the Moi administration, most of the members who were in detention without trial belonged to underground movement, Muugano wa wazalendo wa kukombo Kenya(Mwakenya) which had organized resistance in Kenya against imperialism in both no-colonial regime of Kenyatta and Moi also in this detention were members of opposition political class from Forum for Restoration Democracy (FORD) who were demanding the return of multi-party politics in Kenya and reform of the constitution.(RPP, Catalogue of Political Prisoners Book 1999
2. BUNGE LA MWANANCHI EVOLUTION AND DEVELOPMENT (JEEVANJEE GARDENS)
Bunge la mwananchi ( peoples Parliament) emerge in this era of neo-liberal globalization in early 1990s after the defeat of nationalist movements in Africa that was given birth by Pa-Africanism Movement in early 1960, and 70 when nationalist leaders were overthrown in military coups and some assassinated like Lumumba , Pio Gama Pinto, Thomas Sankara in political conspiracy sponsored by western imperialism ( Shivji Silences In NGOS discourse 2001 ) after two decade in Kenya of despotic and paranoid political leadership of corruption and ethnic politics of divide and rule and patronage Kenya was ushered in the blindly to the structural adjustment programs in early 1990s through world Bank and IMF, that came with the withdrawal of budget allocation to social services like healthcare, education in the name of cost-sharing , retrenchment in public services like Kenya railway and Telkom. This structural adjustment programs fermented extreme social unrest and migration of young people from rural areas to capital city in search of employment , due to minimal source of income in the rural areas after collapse of agricultural farming and factories like in sugar in Nyanza and textiles industries in rift valley ,government milk processing plant like KCC , and many other small farming cooperative industries, where agricultural extensions services were withdraw and farm subsidies.
After this came liberal Multi- party politics in Kenya and Africa, and triumph of liberal democracy free markets creed and the end of history dictum by Francis Fukuyama in 1989 who was at that time U.S state department policy advisor and the same year World Bank and IMF unveiled Washington Consensus policies to the countries in the south with demand of liberalizing trade, political conditionality , multi-party and good governance , human rights creed. (The shock doctrine by Naomi Klein)
The roots of Bunge La Mwananchi movement emerge from this background from the seeds earlier historical resistance , when Moi regime conceded to democratic forces in Kenya and external pressure to amend the constitution to remove section 2A , and allow the return of multiparty politics in kenya , which opened a little democratic space that give room and space to members who had created contact with underground social movements like Mwakenya DTM, and other constitutional reforms movements that mushroomed during introduction of multi-party politics. It is during this time that some cadre of Bunge lam Mwananchi who had created contact with underground political movement, started organizing open political education on African liberation movements and debates around the m religions, slave trade and social cultural rights , at Agha kan walk street in Nairobi city centre in eary 1990s during lunch time hour , under the banner of Kafiri movement,(interview Kafiri David Marakaru the debates in Agakhan walk street within city centre became very popular with remnants of underground social movement and middle class within the environs after the first and second multi-party elections failed to deliver on liberation project, the debates and the lectures in the city attracted the Moi security agents which infiltrated the group and caused the division, in the process of breaking the organized street lectures, that was gaining popularity with the people, who were still looking for a new alternative that was not within the framework of neo-liberalism that was being championed, by both opposition political class and mainstream NGOs and the Pro-reform civil society that was still anchored in neo-liberal paradigm and their activities limited within the middle class hotels.
The fear of the moi regime on public political debated engagement by Kafiri movement caused disruption of the debates in Aghakan Walk Street, which forced the members of….this Proletariat lumpenized movement to relocate to Jeevanjee Gardens, the park that had history in democratic struggle in kenya. As the Late Nobel Laurent Prof. Wangari Maathai and Friends of JeeVanjee a ssociation that is organized by Granddaughter of the Late Mullah JeeVanjee in 1990 had stopped the Park from being grabbed by KANU regime to build a car Park
The parks during this time Was home to many street families. That had made this place their home, which was also a no gone zone area as it was being associated with criminal activity of mugging and rape of young women in the park, that even human rights organization had declared the Venue a Rape zone. The venue was not a interest to the Moi regime which was not concerned with social services and amenities only its interest was to grab the park and convert it to concrete building in the Garden.
In the Jeevanjee Gardens within the formation of the street family there was, Islamic and Christians preachers, who after the lunch hour preaching would engage on debates with members of Kafiri movement on origin of religion in Africa and it contemporary relation in modern Kenya , this debates made the members of Kafriri movement to find a political home at the park and continue with their political lectures and debates in low profile while forging a common unity with members of street families in Jeevanjee Gardens and hence that social relationship opened the interaction that organically started the transformation of Jeevanjee Gardens as terrain of contested social political space and that has evolved a national wide grassroots movement in Kenya in the name of Bunge La Mwananchi.
The Jeevanjee Gardens was transformed by Bunge debates as members of Kafiri movement (transformation of the Parks Starts) merged with other members of proletariat –lumpen, street families, that had home in Jeevanjee Gardens in one corner of the park under a tree shade, the organic union of the movement was also enriched by (interview old Generation of bunge GMT Mburu) by presence of older generation who had contact or participated in Mau Mau liberation movement and their participation in the debates helped to shape the consciousness of the young generation in historical struggle with colonialism and give a new social and political a perspective to the movement.
At the embryonic stages of the social movement debates and discussion in the year in early 1990 and the start of the 2000, the discussion and arguments in the square Gardens were being called Kikao (sittings) because of the nature of the debates and lectures in the park that were conducted in the two benches that were facing each other and under a shade of tree (Organic debates)tree while the speaker of the debates sat on the middle of a makeshift seat of stone bricks to navigate the debates and discussion in a model of Africa village parliaments, this arrangements of debates and its participatory nature from the worldview of ordinary person gave birth to the name Bunge la Mwananchi (people’s parliament) , which challenges and contest the current dominant model of colonial and liberal individualized form of representation in bourgeoisie parliament that give the mwananchi a alternative model of social movement building and struggle from below in organizing in the grassroots , as Prof.Issa Shivji had advised while giving a keynote address to the 5th plenary session of the National convention assembly (NCA) , in 2000 on constitutional reforms in Kenya where he pointed “ that the point of departure is from the neo-colonial state as site of politics to village and neighborhood assemblies as political site” where the village assembly should be the focal point of restructuring power and authority in struggle of democracy in Africa. Which today is reinforced by the Kenya constitution give county government in form of devolved government in participatory democracy by creating county assemblies, and elected governor with county representative which is an improvement, in the process of taking the political power to the people through devolved government and this invite the future struggle for social movement to be anchored against the elements of neo-colonial fusion that may invent in the new proposed 47 county assemblies in the local area , in order to construct a true participatory democracy and sharpen the struggle for social justice in the village and neighborhood assemblies as the site of political and economic struggle in Kenya, which Bunge La Mwananchi political theory and practice is anchored in the 21st century
Symbolic election At Jevanjee Gardens.
With coming of National Rainbow Coalition in the year 2003 and 2004 the improvement of organized and quality debate started to attracting local media houses, that were breathing press freedom with NARC regime example being Citizen Television station, and a Kiswahili radio station named Radio Simba, which started covering and airing the topical debates from Jeevanjee Gardens, the airing of the debates and discussion helped to popularize the movement as new alternative in organizing peoples politics in a localized platform that was participatory and within reach and access ordinary Mwananachi that was different from corrupt and ideologically bankrupt political parties that were organized through tribal patronage, personality cult following corruption, and distance from the masses.
With increase in media coverage of the debates in the square garden’s the movement continued to expand organically by establishing Bunge La Mwananchi bases and chapters within Nairobi environs in Mathare Kibera , Githurai in Kasarani constituency and Huruma Kiamiko village in Starehe Constituency where the movement started organizing community based assemblies , named Starehe Mwananchi congress, to open space for community participation in political, social economic debates and discussion on challenges that members of this community were confronting after post-election violence in 2007 and their daily struggle to access livelihood under difficult conditions of extreme poverty in slums, the Starehe Mwanachi Congress created the seeds of formation of Bunge La Mwananchi Women base at Kiamaiko and Ghetto Village , the Bunge La Mwananchi women base in Kimaiko and Mathare with a Vanguard of key community organizers, of young women in slums with support of other older generation of women in slum in Kiamaiko advanced the struggle of the social movement to a new height in opening a new chapter in the movement and bringing new skill in grassroots political education and mobilization in organizing the movement as , (Interviewe and Ruth Mumbi, Emily Kwamboka ) Where the Women village parliament in kiamiko start with contribution of ksh10 for a mug of tea that is to taken during the debate and discussion on social development issues that affect their life and how to improve their organic savings, the young women due to their grassroots social network have created a critical social base in Huruma that is made of young women who are majority singe due to many of their youthful husband being victim of extra judicial killings and crime related death, the bunge la Mwananchi young women in Kiamaiko forged the campaign on basic need and acess to healthcare for all which was entrenched in the new constitution in the bill of rights.
The interaction with youth and community based social groups in Huruma and Mathare created a paradigm shift and the the face of Bunge la Mwananchi from organic debates in Jeevanjee Gardens within the city centre to active grassroot movement in Huruma , Mathare , Githurai and Kibera and many other parts of the country as Bunge La Mwananchi continued to expand organically as today we have Bunge La Mwananchi social - political bases in Limuru, kamkunji , Huruma mathare and kibera, and in other major towns like Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu Eldoret and East Africa in Dar es Sallam although without much advanced organized vanguard to shape the social movement with political consciousness like Other established Bunge La Mwananchi bases in Nairobi, However this networks continued to expand even with challenges of debates and regular meetings being disrupted by security agencies and elements of the ruling class and liberal middle class NGOs that are threatened by organized social movement from the grassroots and as a nationwide social movement that cut across ethnic divide, the movement Vanguard in Jeevanjee Gardens continue to maintain contact with number of Bunge La Mwananchi social bases and established chapters in the country by organizing political activities together and in inviting key leaders of this chapters in national political processes, like Bunge la Mwananchi grassroots leadership consultative forums, the Movement annual national congress and Constituency Development Fund monitoring training programs and constitutional reforms
The coming of National Rainbow coalition when Moi regime was voted out in 2003 by a coalition of reforms parties which had support from civil society and social movements, made a substantial shift on the civil society leadership to join the new kibaki regime where a democratic space was widened, which improved the level of leadership and organizational debates, and discussion in Bunge La Mwananchi where the focus was on social justice agenda that National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) administration had given in their 2002 manifesto during the general election campaign, upon which they had promised to bring radical social change through social-economic transformation, by creating 500 thousand jobs for the youth per year ,delivering new constitution framework within hundreds days, zero tolerance to corruption ,combating tribal patronage within civil service and creating people centered economy,
The Coalition itself was a mixed political bag of former Kanu members who had served in Moi regime and elements of right wing reactionary forces from opposition who did not have any united national agenda or coherent ideological theory to unite the country that was tribally divided since colonial administration, as the first years of NARC administration were opening new mega corruption in the government relating to security agencies procurements tenders Anglo Leasing ( Githongo Reports )and tribal patronage in civil service, started to appear again in the public which then scattered the project of social transformation and hopes of Kenyans who had voted overwhelmingly to the new regime, was dimmed.
With collapse of the National Rainbow coalition dream in 2003 many young people started to look for a new political alternative to organize around and Bunge La Mwananchi, became the movement and political instrument that gave them a new home that allowed everyone to participate and engaged in national debate, on many political, social economic issues that remained unsolved in the country, with increase of membership and political consciousness the movement started to organize direct political action around the debates and motions that were being debated and discussed at the park and many others bunge la Mwananchi chapters in the country , at this time one of these debates related to management of natural resources, e.g. land , access to clean water for all and environmental destruction , the discussion on land reform and historical injustice was linked to Lake Magadi Soda Company , which at that time was owned by British royal family together with local political class and which land tenure and many others in parts of Central province, cost province and Riftvally of Kenya that ware acquired during colonial administration and which were lasting lease of a duration of 99 years had come to an end at the beginning of NARC administration in 2003 , and there was pressure from local communities and land righs movement to be given opportunity in developing the land through collective ownership with cooperative movement.
Bunge La Mwananchi advanced this campaign around policy of nationalization of land for effective and efficient management of land, sustainable food production and accountability to Multinational companies that were involved in extractive industries without the benefit local communities and destruction of environment, but the NARC government with weak and compromised national parliament yielded to the interest of international capital and renewed all the colonial leases against the national interest of the country and without consultation with people as requested by members of Bunge la Mwananchi to the memorandum and debates conducted by the movement in that year.
Another campaign and debate related to Lake Victoria, the second fresh water lake in the world the movement organized a demonstration in Nairobi and issued a international press statement at Chester house on 23rd January 2004, Against the River Nile treaty that was signed in 1929 between two British colonies, Kenya and Egypt, which was construed as instrument of colonial control during scramble for Africa natural resources by Europeans powers, which had disrupted industrial development and food security , in great east Africa, and with increase food crisis in the world the struggle of the Africa natural resources is sharpening with most of the Africa states facing food riots and other regime being removed in power as Tunisia and Egypt, where the question of livelihoods and democracy as been a twin demands for the social movement in North Africa.
Bunge La Mwananchi members demanded during this time the government to treat the treaty as null and void and against interests of people of East Africa countries which was intended to curtail collective development around Lake Victoria basin, and prohibit any improvement of food sovereignty and youth employment that would have come through extensive mechanized irrigation and generation of hydro-power electricity by upstream states around the Lake Basin that have population of 160 million people, for their economic improvement,
Where It was the concern of the movement that the region around the lake basin remained underdeveloped while the lake continued to be the source of Tilapia fish which is rich in nutritious protein that is exported to EU markets in tune ksh 6 billion per year from Kenya,( reports from bunge dabetes ) However the lake basin capacity remain underutilized and mostly polluted , even with modern scientific technological advancement in the world, where majority of people around East Africa who many small upstream rivers and catchments area are the tributaries to the Lake basin which is the source of greater Nile, still live in chronic poverty, without food, this efforts also anchored the right to food campaign named UGA Ksh 30 which started in 2006 February at that time the maize floor 2 kg was costing Ksh 47 and members demanded reduction of taxes around essential commodities and access to healthcare , education and housing for all, this campaign has been reinforced by article 43 in the new constitution that the movement anchored its messages on the campaign to the basic needs
The question of social justice in Kenya 2013 Election.
The Bunge La Mwananchi political and power discourse is shaped by collective action in form of campaign as in the 2004 this campaigns related to Kenya police wages and housing where the members of the movement debated the issue of the police welfare and participated extensively in Governance and Justice and Law order sector reform (GJLOS) debates and forums to influence the polices of the program in support of the police reforms , and distributing the education materials citizens and this also included organizing a demonstration in 2003 to create awareness and agitate for provision of better housing and an increment of the wages for police officers who were earning a partly 3000 kenya shillings (about $50) per month also another camping was about access to justice dubbed Ole sisina campaign at Kencom bus stage in protest of the extra judicial killings by kenya police and decision by the Attorney General Amos Wako not to charge a rich farmer who had killed a poor KWS officer in cold blood, with impunity the campaign was for access to justice and accountability against impunity a campaign that moved members to join with other civil social organization and formed a platform called Kenya Against Impunity( KAI)…( read the KAI minutes and the TJRC case )
The movement in the same and also organized a political education campaign in 2004-2005 -2006 around Kencom bus stage in the name of Hema la katiba, within the city centre, the campaign objective was to mobilize and create a critical mass in advancing the right to organize, participatory constitutional process ,political accountability, misuse of public funds by the government and state buying fuel guzzlers cars to a bloated cabinet ministers , that was burden to Kenya taxpayers, this campaign was very successful that Kenya National Commission on Human rights(KNCHR) under its chairman Maina Kiai offered to partner with Bunge La mwananchi in distribution of human rights education material and conducting political accountability forums and campaign that initiated formation for movement for political accountability (MOPA) in run-up to the general election 2007, the movement continue to educate and raise awareness in the country on matters of political accountability under the coalition government with members of the movement participating occasionally in holding the accountability forums in their respective area at county forums.
The nature of rules that govern the the movement are organically developed and not imposed to the participating members and that is why most of the campaigns of the movement are driven by consciousness of the small group that meet over cup of tea and develop the idea further after initial debates in bunge la Mwananchi base especially in Jeevajee Gardens , this small team is the one that develop and improve the campaign to a higher level and create , messages , and slogans and songs, together with action plan as the idea and the campaign move getting more support from majority members of the movement and with heightened organized political activities an active bunge la Mwananchi vanguard of key leadership is emerging with symbolic election of Bunge. La Mwananchi members chapter in Jeevajee Gardens taking place every two years though with element of contradiction as some members don’t believe in election within the movement.
The original idea of holding election was to help the members of Bunge La Mwananchi to create a leadership that could integrate debate and discussion with direct political action, and the old leadership from originally Kafiri movement were resisting the idea of direct political action but the vanguard was able to take shape in the movement political activities which had previously forged the name Bunge La Mwananchi (peoples parliament) with slogans and songs within the organic debates and discussion that emerged within Bunge La Mwananchi
The Bunge La Mwananchi social movement as political instrument to organize around direct political action was shaped by this vanguard in respond to the failure of the past NARC administration and the current government of coalitions that has failed to deliver on on many promises made to the youth since during 2002 general election, and national assembly that have mortgaged the country to World Bank and IMF neo-liberal policies that keep isolating many people in national economy and subjecting majority of workers and youth in extreme living conditions creating a social explosion that has become the source of organized youth violent movements in many parts of the country , in the slum area within city and major towns in form of Mungiki, Jeshi la Kingola , Musumbiji boys, Taliban , chikororo, kamjeshi, and many others that have emerged under neo-liberal free market economy, where they have formed shadow government ,in provision of public services, like security , water and illegal connection of electricity, in space that has been left by the current state as the result of neo-libersal globalization that manifest in liberalization of trade privatization of national assets and co modification of social services and marketisation of all goods and services ( Shivji NGOs discourse page 13)
With the political instrument Bunge La Mwananchi as social movement being forged the movement continue to take shape by participation in various forums that were organized by civil society in kenya at the same time the vanguard continued consistently taking lead in advancing the battle of ideas and ideological contradictions within mainstream liberal civil society t class civil society ….. and defending the space created within public spheres in the park , being and other bunge chapters in Nakuru, Kisumu Mombasa…
while inviting speakers to come and give political lecture in Jeevanjee Gardens to ferment the intellectual debate, on social-political issues that were still burning in the country as National Rainbow coalition dream aborted, in 2003 , intellectual , political actors and human rights lawyers and activist were invited to participated and give lecture under banner of Bunge La Mwananch at the park. The Late Prof Katama Mkangi a social justice activist who was detained by Moi regime in advance of social change was the eye opener on this intellectuals lectures, which advanced the intellectual discourse at Jeevanjee gardens and opened a new chapter , of organic intellectual debates ,where intellectuals were invited to give lectures at the park on various national issues that were affecting the country. Prof Horace Campbell one of Pan Africanist write was recently visitor in the park to introduce members of the Movement to his new book ( Barrack Obama, the revolutionary moments) and many other progressive intellectual have visited the park to ground this debates and discussion session.
3. BUILDING ALLIANCES WITH INTERNATIONAL GLOBAL SOCIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT (WSF)
In 2007 World Social Forum , the movement participated in organizing alternative grassroots social forum in the park in protest of high fee that was being charged in the main event at Kasarani , this event created contacts of global social justice movement in the WSF in building international alliance gave Bunge La Mwananchi a great opportunity for members of the movement who came in contact with other social movements in the world and progressive intellectual , that advanced the movement in international networks and since that time members of the movement have been invited to participate in WSF meetings ,anti-globalization campaign and international social transformation courses in South East Asia the Focus on global south Institute based in Bagkok and affiliated to Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute also members of the movement have created contact with Latin – America social movements where Bunge L a Mwananchi members are invite to participate in international campaing on social justice and anti-globalization meetings in the world. In the 2011 in february members of Bunge La Mwananchi also attended the second Africa world social Forum in Dakar through Fahamu Pan- african fellowship program that exposed the social activist from Bunge La Mwananchi to global climate justice movement, and international social justice activist in the Jubilee south the debt movement and new frontier on climate change science and technology and intervention from social movement in the south and the north As industrialized nations in the West look for technological fixes to climate change that enable them to carry on with ‘business as usual’, Gacheke Gachihi speaks to ETC Group's Pat Mooney [mp3] about why it is so important for social movements in the South to participate in debate and decision-making around new technologies, such as geoengineering and synthetic biology. ‘They could be tremendously devastating... we don't know what the implications would be for Africa,’ Mooney notes, ‘This is a struggle that ordinary people need to know about. http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/71999.
The movement has also worked Fahamu a network of social justice, that helped to train members of movement networks on advocacy in media and communication skills , also members of Bunge la Mwananchi have continued to organize political Alliances with other political forces example is Kenya national youth alliance, KNYA. Safina , SDP, PPK and University students, in forming a united front for change to propagate the agenda for social change and alternative political leadership in Kenya in the name of progressive parties and social movement alliance (PROPA) in 2008 and the G47 formation of Middle class political platform.
4. THE MOVEMENT PARTICIPATING IN 2007 GENERAL ELECTION.
The movement also believe in principal of struggle for state power and is this reasons that five members of the movement in 2007 general election participated in local government elections with support from African Research forum (ARF) a progressive think tank that is composed of progressive intellectual who believe in nurturing alternative political leadership in Kenya and with this support from this organization a member of Bunge La Mwanchi and former regular speaker of the movement debates in JeeVanjee Gardens was elected, in local government authority, as Councilor Leonard and a civic leader of Boro west ward in Siaya county council Alego Usonga constituency, this depart from anti-globalization movement in Europe and north America and some popular movement in Latin America, that are anti-political parties and that also detest struggle for state power.
The post-election violence that occurred in the early 2008 had negative implication to different chapters of the movement as 2007 general election was ethnic and fanatically charged many members of the movement were overwhelmed by magnitude of political violence and ethnic tension in areas like Huruma, kibera , mathare in Nairobi, Naivasha and Eldoret , the post-election violence has been part of Kenya electoral process since introduction of multi-party elections in 1992, but the violence that shook Kenya as report from Waki commission and many eyes witnesses after 2007 general election was systematic and very destructive where women were brutally raped and many workers , peasants and petty traders were visited by death while destruction of property was wide spread , this impacted very negative to the network of the the movement that was created in most of this region, although in Jeevanjee Gardens the traditional home for the movement remained a melting pot for peace and was source hope for majority of people who would leave there estate in Huruma, kibera and Mathare and come to seek peace within the park, members of the movement also worked tirelessly in bringing slum dwellers and urban poor together at the height of the post-election violence and some our members had to flee into exile as a direct consequence of the dangers they faced by being the voice of reasons where ethnic violence and tension was in extreme.
Bunge Members continue to debate the role the movement played during post-election violence, although the debates and discussion are characterarized sometimes by the divisive position taken by various political formations during the current International criminal tirial in hugue where four suspects are facing charges on crime against humanity telated to 2007 post-election violence, which has made members of the movement to take different position in relation to the International criminal court process .
5. THE UNGA REVOLUTION AND ARTICLE 43 (RIGHT TO FOOD) 2011-2012
Bunge La mwananchi social movement take the right to food as advance of social change agenda that is anchored on fundamental values of democracy that believe in equality among human beings and can be guaranteed only when the right to food, education, healthcare is adequately met for all which today is enshrined in the new constitution ( article 43) and denial of this rights negates a person's very humanity and dignity, and to anchored this objective in direct political action on 2nd April 2008, Bunge La Mwananchi through its network and Starehe Social Movement notified the officers in charge of Central Police Station, Pangani Police Station and Huruma Police Station of their intention to hold a peaceful procession on 31st May, 2008 starting from Jeevanjee Gardens Park to Huruma Sports Ground. Where the procession was to protest the unchecked escalating food prices and demand the coalition government intervention, the procession was disrupted violently by Kenya police and six members of the movement were arrested and detained in Central police station for four days before been charged with organizing illegal procession, which was a malicious prosecution that was intended to intimidate the members of the movement to stop organizing the masses around demand for political accountability from the political class and access to basic needs the case was dismissed by the court and today the members were able to institute a civil case against the government through a human rights lawyer Mbugua Murethi and advocates supported , through legal aid from Independent medical legal Unit a human rights organization, to seek for compensation and accountability from the government, the process seionthat was lead by women from the parks to Huruma grounds was able to open a new chapter in the movement as new members of the movement were recruited from this political activity and they have continued to organize the activities of the movement in Huruma ward, example being Kasrani Wananchi congress that was organized in Huruma grounds in 2008 by community based organizations in partnership with Bunge La Mwananchi.
Prof Issa Shivji in his book of Silences in NGOs discourse has argued that history is about the present that we must understand the present as history so to change for the better, that the 500 hundreds years of slavery the colonial and imperial history is at the heart of the present Africa conditions today, and it is this understanding on 9th august 2008 Bunge La mwananchi with Watoto wa Anastasia and Otabenga with support from the Nigeria High commission and Kenya Venezuala friendship society organized a forum in Huruma at Ongoza Njia community centre in Nairobi named, kuwakumba na kuwasikiliza,Africa descendants in Latin America to reconnect and raise our consciousness on social struggle with historical resistance for many people of diverse origin from Africa who were taken far away from Africa to works as slaves where millions died in the dehumanizing process of being abducted and in the slave journey of Atlantic ocean and in horrible working conditions in sugar plantations in slave masters colonies, the legacy that manifest today in form of poverty and underdevelopment in Africa and Latin America. In this year the United nation human rights council has declared 2011 as the international year of people of Africa descent that continues to face racial discrimination the main objective being to raise awareness on the challenges that people africa descent face in the world(http://www.ohchr.org,YearPeople, A tribute to africa descendants in Latin by Gacheke Gachihi and Wangui Kimari //venezuelanalysis.com/letter/3891 ) which indactate that the effort of grassroot social movement and struggle for africa descent in the world is moving to the international forums, like UN.
The struggle for social change, has been taking shape in Kenya through grassroots movements an and in the 2008 Dec, the members of the movement continued to create awareness on the campains and collective actions in various activities to advance the course of social struggle, and on 10 December 2008 Bunge La Mwananchi Ongoza njia community centre and Mama mwiki links networks organized together with other grassroots movements a food and cultural festivals in Huruma sports ground to commemorate the International human rights day , and integrate our cultural values and creativity in peace building and fostering peaceful coexistences in our diverse culture and historical heritage On this event at Huruma sports ground members of grassroots movements resolved to build alliances with other progressive forces in advancing Unga for 30/= campaign and demands for members of parliament to pay taxes on their, hefty allowances, this direct political action was to be advance in December 12 Jamhuri day, to deliver a political message to the political class, to intervene on many demands that the social movements have put to the coalition government.
The Kenya general election in 2007 was ethnic and divisive, and the campaign of the 2007 and election injected self – destructive tension that resulted in death and massive destruction properties and internal displacement of peoples during post election violence, which is was manifestation of history of exploitation, collapse of governance institutions and this has manifested in to the dabate about International criminal Court and the question of impunity in Kenya Bunge la Mwananchi has in vibrant way participated in the campaing to support the ICC process , and members of Bunge La Mwananchi in Nakuru chapter and Nairobi Jeevanjee gardens has organized procession in the support of the process.
Bunge La Mwananchi has also participated in intensive debate on the ICC organized by Africa leadership centre, with Prof. Mohamend Mamdani, on limitation of the international criminal court and the contestation between criminal justice and political justice a critical debate that was missing in the mainstream civil society campaign on the ICC process.
6. BUNGE LA MWANANCHI IN RELATION WITH HUMAN RIGHTS NGOS AND CIVIL SOCIETY.
The relationship between the Bunge La Mwananchi and other political actors , NGOS government media and politician has been of subsistence social relation as Leigh Brownhill argue in his book land food and freedom, the struggle of for the gendered commons in Kenya (page 17) where he show that in Kenya there has been an almost unbroken centaury long chain of subsistence social movement against neo-liberal globalization and capitalist enclosures which is the subsoil that revolutionary movements have arisen. Bunge La Mwananchi subsistence social relation it means of strategic political survival, within the hostile environment of neo-liberal globalization where the gross human rights violations , as extra-judicial killing , arrests and illegal detention of members of grassroots movements by the Kenya police, this hostile environment, that target the grassroots activist has forced Bunge La Mwananchi to build a subsistence alliances with neo-liberal human rights organization to challenge the impunity of the state, that has continued to slow down the social activism of the movement , the subsistence relationship with human rights organization and some critical political class is shaped by the understanding of the history of civil society movement in Kenya, and its limitation in dvancing the struggle for social change.
The social relationship with the civil society and political parties has to helped bunge la mwanachi to continue holding debates at Jeevanjee Gardens even after threats to many members of bunge La mwanachi., from kenya police and many arrests in the park to prevent the movement from meeting in the park which was resisted by the cadres of the movement in alliance with key political allies and members of civil society , this subsistence relation has been there in the history of social movement in Kenya, where the book , land , food and freedom , the struggle for gendered commons, inform how women and peasants movement in kenya have utilized the substance social relation to fight against neoliberal globalization , as they continue to produce and control what is within their consumption in basic needs., this subsistence social relation between bunge La Mwananchi social movement and the cicil society has made the Human rights organization to continue to profiles cases of members of Bunge La Mwananchi as human rights defenders, which has been critical in protecting the members of the movement from harrasmement and intimidation by the Kenya police (RPP reports quote) during the work of the movement in the community organizing in the grassroots,
4. Conclusion new constitutional dispensation and challenge of the social movement in future.
In the year 2011 there is great hope for many patriotic Kenyans who exercised their democratic and fundamental right to make appointment with great history , in giving birth to a new constitution, that will create new legal and political framework to anchor the struggle of social justice and new democratic state in Kenya, , which the bunge la mwananch social activist have been in trenches with other constitutional movement to make it reality.But the national question that the new dispensation pose after promulgation of the new constitution is on how to build strong social movement to breathe life to the new constitutional text, As one note before and during this referendum campaign Kenyans were mobilized individually to come and participate in the referendum vote as it happen every time during the general election. It was only embryonic social movement like Warembo ni Yes, a young women alternative leadership platform created by Bunge La Mwananchi Women social movement that made critical effort to mobilize collective women voters constituency in the referendum. The history and limitation of individualized voter is inherent in representative liberal democracy , and the challenge of social justice activist and progressive political forces after coming of the new constitution is to move from this limitation of individualized voter and sham democracy to values of participatory democracy where the organized social forces of workers and peasants, and women social movement not only participate in referendum or in voting women’s candidate for representation in bourgeoisie parliament as isolated single excises but move in to breathing life to the new constitution by collective mobilization and creating political consciousness to the mass organization , and social movement that will advance and anchor the social struggle political programs in demand of peoples livelihoods, accessing the right to food , right to quality education , shelter, quality healthcare and clean water for all , if the new constitution dispensation will have meaning for many poor Kenyans living in horrible conditions of neo-colonial poverty due to historical exploitation ,neo-liberal capitalism economic policies and corruption by the ruling political class.
Prof Yash Ghai has argued in a article posted on oxford journal on transitional justice (OTJR) debate on challenges of establishing constitutional order in Kenya that “ The constitution cant achieve anything by itself: like Marx’s commodities, it does not have arms and legs, it must be mobilized , acted upon and used” http://africanarguments.org/2009/08/decreeing-and-establishing-a-constitutional-order-challenges-facing-kenya. this political dictum confirm to us that we must construct solid social movement as political- social ,economic instrument to be the arms and legs to mobilize and organize the , exploited masses to act and use the new constitutional framework to bring fundamental social change in Kenya, it is good to note here also that the new constitution has not altered , the fundamentals of neo-colonial political economy that introduced Kenya society to inequality and extreme poverty , although it create the illusions of social democratic state with a progressive bill of rights and economic social rights anchored in the constitution, which is only token of legalism language, within liberal bourgeoisie democracy that cant solve the problem of historical exploitation, marginalization and social inequalities, that manifest in crime , homelessness , unemployment, environmental destruction and poverty linked disease that is killing our people, everywhere in our slums , estate and villages across the country.
The new ratified constitution indeed has a positive aspect of elite consensus, on structure of devolved political power in the 47 created county assemblies with 15 percent of the national budget devolved to all the 47 counties collectively as devolved fund, with new challenges in management of the devolved funds, the structure of the devolved government has created a political space for the right to organize and democratize development in the local level, which the progressive forces and organic social movements can utilize to advance the cause of national democratic revolution.
The opened space call for alternative political leadership and new strategy in grounding, the peoples struggle within the new political environment, that come with challenges of building new democratic institution, and to breath values to this institutions call for participation of social movements that will pressure and democratize the state and inject values of patriotisms and accountability in public service and also develop alliances between trade unions movement, women movement , small farmers and fishermen cooperative movement, as political social forces to revitalize popular resistance rooted in mass base movement to confront the inherently violent neo-liberal capitalism economy that is present phase of imperialism, in today Kenya economy , as Prof. Issa Shivji one of original thinkers, and organic intellectual in East africa has argued in his recent book titled (Where is Uhuru), reflection on the struggle for democracy in africa, and the pitfalls of liberal reforms (the third generation or right based constitutions) p.61on the question of irreconcilable contradiction between the rhetoric of constitutionalism and human rights based on a open , transparent , accountable government , responsible to provide basics needs to its people, which is contradicted by neo-liberal capitalism based on marketaization and privatization of basic needs and withdrawal of state from economic sphere, that undermine the role of developmental state in Africa.
The struggle to locate and build human rights and social justice activism in community grassroots movement will demand new passion ,ideas and alternative strategy in construction of organic community based political instrument that will come with new challenges and not attracting the usual funding from neo-liberal sources , because the independent strong social movement in grassroots, will educate the masses and organize community for popular struggles and livelihood which sharpen social contradiction that expose the masses to the exploitation of neo-liberal capitalism and the political character of donor agencies and non- governmental organization , that emphasizes on divisive project funding and donations to divide and undermine the organic social movement and pacify, masses for a limited time as happen in Latin America.
The experience in theory and practice of building social movement in Kenya has been tested by Bunge La Mwananchi social activists in community organizing on popular resistance , demand for social justice and respect for human rights with many campaigns located in the grassroots.
This call and invite progressive social forces, organic intellectual and Bunge Mwananchi organic intellectual activist to study and have national debate on past political and environmentalist movement, December Twelve Movement,(DTM) Which was organized by progressive university intellectual , Mwakenya, from university intellectual, students , workers and peasants also on this line is Release Political Prisoners (RPP), Green belt Movement, February 18 (FERA) and Forum for Restoration Democracy (FORD), that championed restoration of neo-liberal multi-party politics in Kenya others forms of movements are Constitutional as , National Executive Council (NCEC), which was collective leadership of National constituency Assembly (NCA) the constitutional reform movement and many others that have shaped the terrain of political struggle in Kenya. The study of this movements and discussion, intellectual debate will help the emerging social movement in the new terrain to understand the political mistake that were made by the leadership of this past peoples movements, which can be used to improve theory and political practice and educate cadres of Bunge La Mwananchi social movement and help to clarify the contestation of the movement organizational leadership structure , the relation of leadership and masses, the question of movement in relation with political parties, civil society and reform versus revolution , and what is the true nature of peoples democracy ,this study also can help to expose the role of the ruling political class together with security agencies in Kenya in dogmatizing and corrupting the movements leadership and donor agencies interest that undermine the collective leadership of the social movement, and organic activities in grassroots, while supporting individualized leadership in form of false internet website human rights activism with very expensive report writing to donor agencies as political fog that obstruct and slow down the movement building in community based activities which demand discipline cadres of community organizers , extensive organized planning participation of grassroots members and skill in community organizing, which is shunned by most mainstream human rights organizations and most of their donors.
This is the challenge that Bunge la Mwananchi social movement has been struggling with and must confront with battle of ideas as it develop and ground strong community based social justice activist and basic social structures to anchor the movement democratic control from below and mitigate the influence of donors agencies and political class that create personality cult political leadership in the movement in resemblance with their political party leadership that is devoid of citizen participation democratic debate and discussion on many challenges facing the nation., the implementation of the new constitution which will demand an intellectual discourse , debates and Mwananchi discussion to interpret the constitution to reflect the wishes many poor Kenyans who voted for the new constitution and this must be anchored on grassroots, social movement with organic intellectual integrating militant political activism to advance struggle for social change, and build democratic institution , democratization of national resource for access to livelihoods for all As the promise of the new constitution.