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Boniface Mwangi
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Something monumental has happened in Kenya today. The government, through Lands Cabinet Secretary, Jacob Kaimenyi, has issued over 1,000 titles to schools from 15 Counties. How did this happen? The answer to this can be traced back to Monday 19th January 2015 when Langata Road Primary School refused to let a powerful politician grab its playground.

The school’s board, comprised of civil servants, had earlier been threatened by senior people in government and its members warned that they stood to lose their jobs, if they persisted in making claims that the land had been grabbed. On Monday 19th January, 2015 we went to Langata Primary School to donate sports equipment and play with the children on the grabbed playground. The police, who were there to prevent us from gaining access to the playground, fired tear gas at the children, but we were still able to bring down the illegally erected wall. Thereafter, the President ordered that the school be issued with a title deed and went on to publicly condemn the police action.

The success of this protest has resulted in many schools across the country reclaiming their playgrounds, owing to the fact that on 22nd January 2017, just three days after the Langata Primary school protest, President Uhuru ordered for all 29,404 public schools to be issued with title deeds. Today, 840 days after President Uhuru’s directive, 1,000 schools now have their title deeds. This is something worth celebrating today.

Yet the sobering reality is that 24,405 public schools still don’t have title deeds and are under threat from well-connected, greedy land grabbers. The failed attempt to grab Langata Road Primary School’s playground broke the silence over public land grabbing, but much more needs to be done. The most interesting thing is that the Ministry of Lands is using footage from protests to celebrate this great news. Today, Irungu Houghton, who was dramatically arrested at the protest, was a guest at the ceremony. Activism wins! #1000Titles #StareheNiBonnie



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12/05/2017
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Dear Friend,

The first day l went campaigning in Starehe, l was scared. It felt like my first day in school. Everything felt strange and new. I was overwhelmed by emotions of just walking up to strangers and introducing myself as a candidate. It has been more than two months since that first day when I started my walk through Starehe. There are so many places I haven’t been to yet: so many neighborhoods, markets, boda boda stages, bus stops, mechanic’s garages, barazas, streets, alleys, corners. Starehe is so big.

In my days walking, I have met with people selling in their shops, with hawkers and mechanics, with cart pullers and bodaboda riders, with matatu drivers and touts, with vegetable sellers and residents. Many of the people I have met are hardworking Kenyans in the informal sector. They go through the same challenges my mother and l went through as we hawked books in the city centre. They are harassed by kanju and arrested for no reason. They do not feel safe in their places of work and their homes. Their places of work, the markets of Starehe, are dirty, polluted and clogged with garbage. Traders not only pay the county government fees for the market but they also pay to use the market toilets. In Grogon, mechanics work in spaces occupied by garbage and have no toilets.

The story of struggles everywhere for ordinary citizens is the same in all of Starehe. The public primary school I attended in lower primary now has a private secondary school within the premises and most of its land has been grabbed. This is not an isolated case as five other schools in Starehe are already occupied by grabbers. The social centres that were the pride of Eastlands, where great leaders like Tom Mboya started their careers, and where young people trained and went on to win Olympic and Commonwealth gold medals in sports like boxing are now pale shadows of their former selves. Residents who have lived in Pangani, Ngara and Ziwani for decades, some since before Kenya gained independence, are being evicted with no promise of a home once they leave. I recently marched with residents of Matopeni, a settlement in Starehe, to the Inspector General of police's office after they were served with an eviction notice. They have lived there for over 20 years. They are just an example of many.

In the course of this walk through Starehe, I have met people used to handouts and they have asked me for money. I have no money to give. I believe that the money politicians have been giving to voters as a bribe is what they go to recover from public funds when they assume office. I refuse to perpetuate such a culture, one that I condemn. But I have also seen hope and been encouraged. I have met people willing to listen to me and challenge me. I have met people who are not afraid to ask hard questions. I have met generous people with big beautiful hearts. A cobbler in Kariokor made me a pair of shoes. A rider gave me a free boda boda ride and told me that was his contribution to my campaign. I wish I could remember all their names and the names of everyone who has told me their story. Many evenings I have gone home overwhelmed by the difficulties people face because our leaders have failed. In Jevanjee gardens, I met a young man suffering from liver cancer. I later on talked to a doctor friend about him and he told me that stage 4 cancer is fatal and that he could have been saved if the disease had been caught early. He said there was nothing that could be done for the man as he would soon die. l went home and wept. I lost my mother to liver cancer and my dear grandmother to stomach cancer.

Starehe has more than 190,000 voters and l look forward to your support as I campaign. As l take a short break from the campaigns and prepare for the tough stretch ahead, I will be doing a book tour in the USA. I will be hosted by Kenyans in Atlanta on 15th April, in Alabama on 16th April, in Boston on 22nd April, in Houston on 28th April, in Dallas on 29th April and Seattle on 30th April. Even when I am away from home, I will carry the Starehe stories with me and tell them to everyone I meet. I'm also looking forward to meeting and listening to Kenyans in the diaspora sharing their dreams and hopes for Kenya in the coming days.

For the five million Nairobians who work and interact with the city every day, my candidacy will fight for a friendlier and safer CBD where we can all enjoy working in. Nairobi needs to be safe for all of us. It’s not the big things that will create impact, but basic things like footpaths to walk on in the city, and garbage cans to keep the city clean. Nairobi can be better, and I will work with the county government to make that possible. As an MP l will dedicate myself to checking the corruption and greed in my fellow leaders so that the hard-earned tax money Kenyans pay is used to serve them. I will fight for laws that benefit every Kenyan. I will stand up and continue to speak fearlessly about the issues affecting my people in Starehe and make sure they receive the assistance they need. The era of leaders who only care about themselves and those close to them is over.

Starehe is the beating, breathing heart of this country. We are the home of the CBD, the Parliament, the Supreme Court, and the offices of the President and Deputy President. We are the home of the University of Nairobi and the Central Bank of Kenya. We are great. ! Nairobi was born in Starehe. The oldest street in this city is ours. The oldest buildings in this city are ours. The biggest archives of Kenyan history, the Kenya National Archives and the National Museums of Kenya, are ours. We are the soul of this nation. And now, we must be the ones who must walk a brave new road towards accountable leadership that listens and works for its people. Starehe needs a courageous citizen who isn't afraid to demand better and fight for us. We all want a better country. It is Starehe’s turn to lead Kenya once more. Give me a chance to serve you.


Your’s Truly,

Boniface Mwangi
#TujengeStareheMpya
#RohoJuu

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A popular Kenyan anti-corruption activist runs for parliament.
A Kenyan social activist and photographer hopes to bring his anti-corruption crusade to Kenya’s parliament. Here’s the story of Boniface Mwangi 

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Looking for laptops, phones and a printer donation for my Starehe campaign secretariat. You can also donate Bonga points to 0792 788 638. Thank you. #RohoJuu
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Woke up at 4am so l can travel to Nakuru High Court. One year ago we helped Naka Primary school reclaim their stolen school land. A private developer had grabbed 10 acres leaving the school with nothing. More than 300 primary school pupils were relocated to a nursery next to the school, which measures 0.8 acres. I have been charged with destruction of "stolen property". While the case is ongoing in court,the well connected land grabber is using Nakuru CID officers to stop the school children from using their reclaimed school land. The Ministry of Lands and National Land Commission needs to expedite the titling of public schools in line with the presidential directive of January 22nd 2015 in the aftermath of reclaiming the Lang’ata Road primary school playground.

My co-accused in the case is the brave Naka Primary school headmaster Francis Mwangi who refused to be bribed and intimidated by the land grabbers, Nakuru Town MP, David Gikaria, Flamingo Ward MCA, Moses Gichangi, Nakuru blogger Elijah Kinyanjui.
The parliamentary land and house committee visited Naka Primary school last year and afterwards received a bribe from the powerful land grabber to ignore the matter. So today we will be in court,the land thief who should be in jail is our accuser. PS: We are aware Governor Kidero's people are trying to grab Upper Hill Nursery School. Stay WOKE! #OccupyNakaPrimary #RohoJuu

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2/27/17
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In 5 days voter registration closes. They're 8 million unregistered voters in Kenya today. Bad leaders are elected by good people who don't vote. Your 5 minutes will determine the direction Kenya takes in the next 5 years. All l ask from you is your 5 minutes to register to vote and l will give you my next five years. Register to vote in Starehe and elect me as MP. If you're a first time voter,you can register anywhere in Starehe constituency. Nairobi city centre is STAREHE. Ngara,Pangani,Kariakor, Ziwani,South B,Muthurwa,Mukuru,LandiMawe are part of STAREHE Constituency. You are a Starehe voter if you hadn’t planned to vote but my candidacy gave you hope that things can change.

PS: To change your vote to Starehe constituency, you need to apply at the IEBC Starehe constituency office. The office is located at Kenya Institute of Education, off Muranga Road, and it will take you five minutes to complete the entire process. Carry your original ID and a copy of the same. I pledge to remain: Consistent. Courageous. Patriotic. Activist. A fighter. #RohoJuu! Lazima Watusikize!
Support my campaign: Mpesa Paybill 652451
SMS/WhatsApp: 0792 788 638
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"While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas”. -Thomas Sankara

Thank you for your overwhelming loving responses after my post on the death threats. Spent my first day back home in meetings with my lawyer, family and fellow human rights defenders. I shall be going to Central Police Station on 3rd February, Friday 10am to report the threats and share the information l have with the police. You can join us. The struggle for a better Kenya continues. #RohoJuu
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I was expelled from school in 1998 when I was barely 15 for highlighting the problems that students faced. Since my mother could not afford to take me to an alternative school, I ended up in the streets of Nairobi as a hawker.

Last year, 18 years after I was expelled, I sat for my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations.

I was 34, married and a father of three. By that time, I had given lectures in Ivy League universities after rigorous self-education.

I had by then also published my book, UnBounded. Having decided to contest for a political seat in the August election, I feared that I risked being stopped from vying on a technicality.

For this reason mainly, I enrolled for and wrote the examination whose results were released shortly after Christmas. My experience during the examination period is worth sharing because the results have been the subject of robust public debate.

Before one got into the examination room, one had to surrender his watch, hat and anything that was suspected could used to abet cheating.

STRINGENT MEASURES
I handed over my watch, wallet, handkerchief and my phone to the security team.

After they found out that a student in another examination room had hidden his phone inside his shoe, we were all made to remove our shoes as part of the search. If one went to the bathroom during the examination, one was searched yet again on returning.

When one was done with one paper, one could not leave the examination room until the stipulated time was up. There were determined invigilators monitoring every candidate to ensure there was no cheating. One invigilator had a sign-in sheet while another had a book with photos of candidates to counter-check with the ones pasted on the candidate’s desk. There was no possibility, therefore, of a proxy writing the examinations on behalf of a candidate. There were, in addition, armed police officers in the examination hall.
During the period, I had a lot of time to think.

I thought of ways this kind of robust scrutiny should apply to anyone who occupies public office. Their business should be our business because they are handling our affairs. Thorough inspection is a good thing; it keeps people on the straight and narrow.

That is why I support the strict implementation of Chapter Six of the Constitution on integrity.


HOPE NOT LOST
It is an example of weeding out cheats in our political system. Why would candidates for political office resist lifestyle audits, for example?
Unless they have something to hide, they should willingly subject themselves to such audits. I believe strongly that we do not focus on the fundamental qualities of education. Is competition for grades worth such prioritising?

How do we identify the different talents of our students upfront and get them into the right educational trajectories? How do we identify potential for different professions and tailor the curriculum to reflect those passions? Should grading not be continuous instead of “putting all eggs in one basket”, so to speak?

Should students not be graded on how they perform over the entire period of four years? Is the system of grading currently being applied not consigning many students to dead ends in their life pursuits?

SELF-EDUCATION
Albert Einstein — considered the most influential physicist — once said: “Everybody is a genius. "But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Einstein failed his polytechnic school examinations. He passed mathematics and science but failed in history, languages and geography. We know he went on to change the world.

This got me thinking. What will happen to children who, for instance, are artistically inclined?

We should put value to self-education since we seem to have killed free quality public education, and opted for private education. History records examples of self-taught individuals who were brilliant: Malcolm X and Mao Zedong come to mind.

In my field, photojournalism, my mentors, Mohamed Amin and Sir Mohinder Dhillon, were both self-educated.

President Moi never went to any university but was nicknamed “the Professor of Politics” by the professors he outsmarted!

My grandparents fought for Kenya’s independence although they were not formally educated.

NOT IMPORTANT
They however knew what injustice was and were ready to die fighting for justice. Before we were colonised, our ancestors ran this part of the world without western education. The idea that passing or failing high school examination is the sole proof of how smart one is, is in my view plainly ridiculous.

Personally, I got unexpected marks even in subjects that I am well versed in. Fortunately, the overall grade I got will not affect my life the way it will an 18-year-old student who wrote that examination and failed. However, if grades could predict how good or bad a person would turn out, I would share mine, but they don’t.

At any rate, no one knows what our political leaders scored in their high school examinations. The score does not matter.

Some of the people looting this country are well educated, suggesting the limitations of our education. Many honest people I have met have not had formal education and their moral compass is intact.

Great talents are not born in the houses of the rich only. They are born in the houses of the poor, too. Education has to be a leveller that gives opportunities to all.

#IspeakCOURAGEfluently #LazimaTusikizwe #RohoJuu #TeamCourage #StareheMP
www.bonifacemwangi.com

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"If you're disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself." - Obama #RohoJUU #IspeakCOURAGEfluently #LazimaTusikzwe
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