An injustice to one is an injustice to all.

One positive energy molecule moving through space, colliding into another, creates powerful potential. Combine more of these positives, and you get amazing explosive power. This is what I felt like on meeting 16 young people from various countries around the world, who were in South Africa for a four day workshop on youth activism and transitional justice. Pure energy and potential!

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ICC SHOCK THERAPY FOR KENYA

I’m not a person who celebrates anybody’s misery nor feels good about it. In this regard, I do feel for the victims of the unfortunate events surrounding the debacle that was the 2007 general election, and also for the alleged perpetrators currently charged at the International Criminal Court ( ICC). In as much as possible, I wish this mess could have been avoided at all cost. But as a good student of history, and having delved and researched heavily on Kenya’s political economic history since pre-colonial times, 2007 was a culmination of a messy political and economical engagements. Post independence powerful leaders, more so the presidents and their powerful acolytes, have done everything to divide Kenyans along ethnic groups. Contrary to expectations that they would be different from the colonialists, they perpetuated a new form of subjugation.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

IS 2012 LIKELY TO BE A BETTER YEAR FOR KENYA?

2012 is the year Kenya is facing the first general election under a new constitution which is bringing forth  fundamental changes in its governance structures since independence. Multipartism in 1991 heralding to the 1992 election was a significant milestone and game changer but 2012 is clearly revolutionary. But with all this happening and a messy economic spectrum in 2011 what do the citizens of this important nation in Africa expect? Any hope of better economic fortunes?

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

COP 17 Day 3/4: Our Planet, Our Action

“We don’t know why God refuses us water.”
Kenyan village elder
Yesterday was a run around sort of day – it seems the model of operations here at COP. Things are dispersed and far apart, without a clear sense of unity or common focus. Negotiations continue behind closed doors, without ordinary citizens being able to access information about what is going on.
There are three clearly defined sectors here: those on the inside, the negotiators or observers, the elites privy to the process itself; civil society organizations and activists, waving their banners and peddling their fliers; and then the ordinary citizens, the every man, who is seemingly either indifferent or lacking any real knowledge or information about the process. It’s a strange division, given that the issues at hand affect each and every single one of us directly. That’s the one thing that certainly has hit home over the course of the week; climate change is, and wil increasingly, affects us all, regardless of where we are scaled in society. It is going to be the most cross cutting and large scale impacting issue of our planet, not just one generation or in the future.
“We used to have a goat, but I had to sell it to feed my children and have any money to buy seeds for next year. If they get tired, then they cannot do any work. Food is life. There is nothing left; I am lost, without solution.”
Rural woman farmer, Mali

This all hit home and was blatantly evident through watching the incredibly powerful and moving documentary, “The Weather Gods”, produced by Uhuru Productions for Greenpeace Africa last night. The film explores three rural communities: in KwaZulu- Natal, South Africa; a tiny village in Mali of female subsistence famers; and a village in Northern Kenya, on the border with Somalia. These three cases studies showed the hard truth of how climate change is not something that future generations will have to deal with, but rather, it is a harsh and very real truth for so many people in Africa. No rain falls, unpredictable weather patterns, very low laying snow, and hardened soil are among some of the predicaments these diverse groups face.
“A country exists because rural people exist – until there are none left. Then what? Is there a law that says a government should abandon its citizens?”
Kenyan villager
Despite how far away they are in location from each other, theses communities face the same terrible, and worsening circumstances. Every one of them knows exactly the consequences of climate change and how the world and it’s environment is degrading before their eyes.
“If there are no crops anymore, there is nothing to do but migrate; people who stay have nothing.”
Kenyan rural village chief
The film excellently captured this reality; that our planet is dying, and we are sitting around fighting over minute details, rather than standing together and enforcing real change.
This final quote, heard at the panel discussion held after the film screening, summed up what I have been experiencing over these past few days here in Durban…
“If they say that this is the people’s COP, then where are the people? What is it we are going to do?”
Best regards,
Megan
Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

COP17 Day 2: Finding a Way Forward

Its been a hectic time here in Durban, and its only day 2. Everyone I see or meet is already exhausted from their commute or preparations and the COP hasn’t even hit its stride. There’s chaos around as many people are amidst figuring out where they’re supposed to be and how to get there. Yet I hear, “we are facing a massive and monumental challenge, but we have to work together to change this.”

But where is the united voice? With no consolidated front from civil society, or any proposal about an alternatives.

Even better, over lunch, trying to throw my plastic bottle (the only type available!) away in a recycling bin was a monumental battle of unprecedented level. I had been driving (the irony!) around all morning trying to sort out an Internet connection issue and had finally found parking and space to enter the ‘official’ COP space around the International Conference Centre. Finding ones way was marginally difficult and the fact that air conditioning in fancy, plastic prefab tents is everywhere with very few people visiting them to make the need to create cool air worth the effort, was marginally disturbing.

Entering the exhibition space, a space I in which several people I had met at COP had invited me to, was completely blocked. It was ‘Us versus over 100 security guards blocked.’ Along with xray scanners, long queuing lines, and batons separated.

After explaining to many people that I had organizational observer status and so on and such, I was rather blankly told “no, there is no one way.”

Exclusion, being removed and completely out of the loop. It was a bizarre feeling, wanting to be a part of something, wanting to participate, trying oh so hard to do so and yet, denial and exclusion. So, closed from access to the official space, I moved to the free space, the external environment of the elite negotiation space. In this we gowned more plastic, more power plugs and fake walls than ever before. Buying food with paper tokens, eating with plastic forks, while sitting under plastic!? Completely removed from climate change realities and utterly removed from the grassroots people and organizations who face the realities of climate change each and every day.

The conversations about climate change have been the same every day, and the same we have heard for the last 3-10 years! Come on people! Shake it up! It’s no longer about the 1.5 or 2 degree changes, it’s no longer about the percent of emissions reduction, it’s also no longer just about the Kyoto protocol and whether we have another period or not. I think its about time we get angry about what this bloated negotiation is all about – nothing essentially, so lets move on.

What is “a balanced package”?! What will this green economy or new negotiations look like?!

It’s a ridiculous fallacy to continue as we are and stop the questioning, pushing or fighting for a serious alternative. Thats the way forward – complete change of the norm. Otherwise, its just business as usual. So me and the anorexic polar bears will be swimming together in the Indian ocean within about two years, as we watch things disappear.

Best regards,
Megan

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

WHERE ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE YOUNG KENYANS?

One of the themes I am picking from presidential hopefuls is that they have programmes lined up for youth and women. On women there is still so much to do but some changes occasioned by the new constitution are imperative in bringing some changes favourable to them. This is a topic for another day and suffice it to say the women issues are important and complex at the same time more so when dealing with diverse societies of the world. The subject of this small discourse is on youth who present a huge challenge for developing nations like Kenya. Clearly the presidential hopefuls in Kenya are targeting a huge vote block estimated to constitute a potential of more than 2/3. Just examining Kenya’s demography for the next couple of elections the majority of potential voters are or are latent in youth. This constitutes both male and female below certain ages. Below age 45 somebody is necessarily youthful. Some may put it at fifty. But for the purpose of this discourse I would target those who will be between 18 (who are at least seventeen or nearing that point right now) and those in early thirties. This bulk of these voters are huge and most of them are currently what is called generation Y and also Z and soon another say generation ……?

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

COP 17 is coming!

COP 17 negotiations and side events start next week in Durban, and the Every Human Has Rights team will be there, covering the action on the ground and posting stories and videos daily. We hope you will stay following us, in order to find out what the action is and how negotiations and debates are going, on a daily basis.

Stay tuned to our facebook and twitter feeds so that you are following all the activities- it will be like you are really there!

Let us know your thoughts on COP 17, the negotiation process, how climate change has impacted your human rights and your reality, and what your hopes and fears for 2012 will be. Email us at [email hidden from spam bots] with your thoughts and stories.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WHY KENYA IS DIFFERENT

Being an African country can be very tough in marketing yourself in the global market place. It is not being easy as an African to market your credibility in knowledge, skills and credibility globally. It is not easy as an African country to market your product credibility in the globe. Not unless if you have raw materials of a global scarcity and highly valued resource like precious minerals and oil, anything else African tend to be viewed with a lot of suspicion. This is informed by many years of African political, economic and social subjugation by most of the rest of the world. It is also informed by the sorry state of governance of Africa after the countries were granted political independence by their European colonial masters. In a nutshell Africa has seen the lowest of humanity life stretching social, economic and political conditions for eons.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“SNAPSHOTS FROM THE GROUND”

As international alliances dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil  society, CIVICUS and Every Human Has Rights have as their  main objective to amplify the voice of everyday citizens across the world; “the ordinary doing the extraordinary”.

This “SNAPSHOTS” project aims to incorporate this fundamental principle into an upcoming project we are running, by getting YOU the global citizen to tell us what has been your most important activist moment this year.

We want to know what you have been doing or involved in this year:

-          Where you in Tahir Square in January?

-          Were you part of the riots and protests in Greece?

-          What were you doing on the global day of outrage?

-          Are you currently in Zuccotti Park in Occupy Wall Street?

TELL US YOUR STORIES! We want to create a comprehensive collection of personal stories from around the world to showcase how incredible this year has been in terms of people fighting to be heard and demanding global and local change.

Email us your “snapshots” and stories to: e...@civicus.org

Please keep this to less than 100 words, as we wish to include as many stories as possible.

More detail: “Snapshots from civil society” will be a series of anecdotes of 50-100 words from a wide cross-section of civil society activists from across the globe accompanied by a headshot of that individual. From jailed human rights defenders in Belarus to elderly anti-corruption campaigners in India to disaster relief workers in Japan to angry protesters in Tahrir Square, the tales of the individuals that participated in the events that defined 2011 will be captured and interspersed throughout the thematic chapters of the Global Civil Society Report. Short commentaries on the trends and the impact of key events will be sought from persons that span spectrum of civil society ranging from the leaders of social movements to the trustees of grant-making foundations. These snapshots should also seek to reflect the composition of our diverse planet.

Posted in Every Human Has Rights, Take Action | Leave a comment

REST IN PEACE PROFESSOR WANGARI MAATHAI

I’m shocked with the death of Nobel laureate Hon Wangari Maathai.

Wangari Mathaai has had a global impact on environmental conservation and her fights for civil rights. In times when little positive could be heard from Kenya she was in limelight with her conservation efforts and fighting for democratic space against the then increasingly political dictatorial regime in the 1980’s. Famous among her main fights was that in 1988 when she campaigned vigorously against KANU regime determination to erect a skyscraper in Uhuru Park in Nairobi.

There was a showdown with then Head of state but eventually the KANU regime backtracked.

Subsequently, Maathai had a great mark in changing our world view on environment and changing our perception on leadership. Her Nobel peace award in 2004 was a culmination of a journey well walked in a very treacherous world. She will be dearly missed. However the baton on environmental management passes on. The war on making the globe better and to halt self destruction is far from being won. To zero in, small measures and big efforts are imperatively needed to be deployed.

Like any other human being Wangari was not infallible. However her huge contribution to humanity overshadows many leaders in Kenya and in the world at large. As a humble lady she made an impact to many people’s lives something that will be endowed to humanity for many years to come. Well as human we have limitation on how long to live on earth and her rest leaves Kenya’s political system and environment with her indelible marks. Moreover the baton has passed on to other political and environment change agents.

Conserving the environment cannot be achieved by a single human soul.

The same cannot be achieved by a single human soul to the political realm alone. Moreover somebody somewhere has to stand up to provide the vision and leadership. This is such kind of sacrifice that great heroes like Maathai have done. Others before her like Martin Luther King, Thomas Jefferson, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela among others altered the destiny of humanity in a very positive way. This is the kind of endowment that humanity should nourish. Impacting positively to fellow human and environment. Rest in peace Professor Wangari Maathai, you gave a gift to the world and your efforts will never be in vain.

Harrison  Mwirigi  Ikunda

Nairobi, Kenya.

The writer is a Consultant and Researcher working for a Not for Profit Organisation with an office in Kenya covering the African region.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment