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What is the Problem with the Civil Society in Kenya?

Recently one Kenyan by the name Boniface Mwangi declared his interest in politics. Of late Mr. Mwangi has been the face of civil society – at least in the manner of activism in Kenya. His intention to go into politics left many talking, with a section criticizing his move and another section cheering him on. It is not the first of its kind. Kenya’s civil society has been characterized by waves of activism followed by incidents of exodus into politics by many in the sector. Only few people can be said to be career activists.  Reasons for this can be as varied as there are actors in the sector. I, particularly have no single issue against Mr. Mwangi’s planned move into politics. In fact, he is enjoying his fundamental freedoms in making personal choices. Actually he owes none any explanation as to why he made such a choice. Actually there are those who argue that we need to have many from the civil society crossover to politics so as to sanitize politics from within. Of course, that is a problematic issue give a history of many civil rights activists who have crossed over and either went silent or became exactly the same kind of guys that they used to criticize when in the civil society.

However, talking to few individuals on Tuesday about the civil society in Kenya, one lady argued that the civil society is in disarray; it is being fought fiercely by government. But she insists that is not the problem since having to stand in the way of the state; the state will obviously fight back and that is expected. There are two real problems to the civil society in Kenya in her view: (i) Civil society is totally not in touch with the people it purports to be fighting for. In that regard, the society has spent billions of shillings over several decades talking to itself and its relevance to the common citizen is neither felt nor appreciated since the two do not connect in many ways; (ii) Those in the civil society sector do not quite believe in it; they only use civil society as a space to build their profile on their way to politics and when they arrive in that political jungle; they do not change but they reveal their true colors; they become real. The ‘real them’ is nothing but greed mortals only good at enriching themselves through looting public resources. I wished I could fiercely contest these assertions but then again, how?
What is the Problem with the Civil Society in Kenya? What is the Problem with the Civil Society in Kenya? Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on November 24, 2016 Rating: 5

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