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Kisumu Stepping Up for Human Rights


My friend Elisha is about this close (bring your thumb and index finger together) to becoming my enemy. He was invited to some event that is supposed to be the godfathers of events in Kisumu. What I do doesn’t count for shits and giggles anymore. Now he is the king, queen and subjects. He is so full of bravura after attending the launch of the 2016 African year of human rights and inauguration of Ending Child Marriage at Savanna Hotel, Kisumu.

Fine its properly called Le Savanna Hotel, Kisumu.

Two letters can send you to your maker in Luo land, that addition is precautionary. It’s like calling a, say Doctor Omollo, Mr Omollo. You will be ostracized. The whole village will gather to discuss the dearth of respect that you have shown a scholar. The elders will congregate at two in the morning outside your boma, drinking on your tab to decide your fate. It shall then be passed that you are to leave your village before dawn carry all your belongings in a sack, leave by canoe across Lake Victoria and not once should you look back. The severity of titles will make you an outcast. To be clear. Its Le Savannah.

Suddenly my job is not fulfilling according to Eli.

I agree on account of the context of the event, not his full blown exaggeration. He was all over the place on Facebook posting pictures captioned with embellished excitement and misplaced joy. He was brushing shoulders with the people we should and want to know in Kisumu. I don’t know what that means but it seemed important to him.

Enough about Luo shenanigans and back to the nobility of Kisumu and this prudent initiative.

Kisumu youth are not well known to be the noblest lot. In fact, the opposite is true. They are associated with political fanaticism, exaggerated loyalty to Gor Mahia and a propensity for violence in the event that they are bored with your face. These are all stereotypes, albeit with a hint of truth here and there. In a usual encounter with a youth on this side of the Victoria, you will mistake a normal conversation for a confrontation. It doesn’t make them very endearing, but there is also a Murang’a ninja trying to say parallelogram. He looks retarded, is he? Kisumu youth are passionate people. They express themselves vehemently and fervently and there is no law against that. Yet.

This past week the youth of Kisumu demonstrated their nobility.

They formed the majority of the crowd that gathered at the Savannah hotel. They demonstrated their stand against human rights violation and their steadfast contribution to ending child marriage. In a calm ceremony presided over by the Deputy Governor, the Hon. Ruth Odinga, the youth, and the old dogs in the house pledged their contribution and unwavering support to a much needed and noble course.

There might not be any weight to this discourse to an outsider but the necessity is a fact Kisumu knows all too well. Statics show that In Nyanza Province 22 per cent of the women in the adolescent age group 15-19 years are married or in union. Furthermore, among married women aged 20-24 years, nearly one in five (17 per cent) have partners who are 10 or more years older than their age. Now I don’t know about you but I don’t know that many 20-24 year old ladies who are balling over themselves to be married to a thirty something. The socialites don’t count in this bracket. I’m talking about a sound minded young adult.

There is a whopping 12.5 percent of children under the age of 15 already in marriage, a staggering 45.4 percent under 18 already in marriage and an astonishing 22.1 percent in marriage or a union of sorts. There is also the menace of polygyny. Coupled with the low literacy levels captured in the region, Kisumu has had enough. It’s about time.

On the human rights front, it’s a broad spectrum.

But I am a women’s advocate and I am inclined to highlight the women’s plight. If you want a guy’s perspective, feel free to voice that and we’ll compare notes. Thanks. Sixty five per cent of women in Nyanza Province agree to wife beating under various circumstances. This is the year Kisumu has decided to change these situations. At the forefront of this particular inauguration is Plan International in conjunction with the KNHRC and enjoys support from the County Government of Kisumu. A decision has been made. To be the change they want to see. It’s not just a collection of rowdy, sweaty, uncouth and vulgar young people. Their hearts and minds are with those who need them.

This however presents a very tough struggle for Kisumu parents now. These youths, accompanied by their genetic pomposity and characteristic machismo will go back home. And they will show their people these photos. Of them rubbing shoulders with county executives. While standing up for a just cause. And they will want to be treated differently. They will ask to be greeted with white and black hens lifted in the air. When they go to church the pastor will have to stop the sermon and allow them to sit at the front pews. They are the mighty young minds who engage in life saving conversations and push forward crucial agenda. All the high school children will want to be them and they will curl under their over achieving shadows. Hoping to impact their people in a similar fashion. Regardless of the unnecessary pomp, they are effectuating change and authenticating the need to engage.

Well done Kisumu 🙌

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