By Davis Mwandawiro
Maskani held their long awaited event on Saturday 26th of July in Mombasa. It was organized by Nisisi Kenya as part of the activities for the Jukumu Letu week. A first of its kind in Mombasa held at Little Theatre Club following previous “Maskani Events” in Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru.
Maskani’s aim is to get important social-political conversations from online venues (social media) to face-to-face interaction. People of all walks of life attended ready to ventilate their opinions on various issues affecting Mombasa. One of the surprise attendees was Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar whose intrusive arrival at the event caught many by surprise.
The debate centered mostly on issues of governance of the county. The alleged embezzlement of funds following the audit report that was released a week ago, insecurity, role of citizens and youth radicalization were key discussion points.
The Maskani team was resourceful enough to live stream the event for all those not able to attend and the heated conversation trickled into Twitter making it one the trending topics for Saturday and Sunday via the hashtag #MaskaniMombasa.
— Senator Hassan Omar (@HassanOmarH) July 25, 2015
Leaders should not treat critics as enemies.Criticism is good for development #MaskaniMombasa
— Fauz Khalid (@FauzKhalid) July 25, 2015
— @evede_254 (@evedee71) July 25, 2015
But why are we always afraid of questioning the authority? Have we forgotten that all sovereign power belongs to us? #MaskaniMombasa
— Ngei Lidear (@Lydearngei) July 25, 2015
One of the least publicly discussed matters in Mombasa is that of youth radicalisation into extremism and terrorism. According to some of the participants, the youth are leaving Mombasa in numbers and joining AlShabab. Even more alarming, is the recruitment of Mombasa youth into joining the ISIS in Syria.
— Sewe Saldanha (@ClanSewe) July 25, 2015
Radicalization is real. We must continue to engage our youth with a counter narrative. Karibuni Mombasa @MaskaniMombasa #MaskaniMombasa
— Governor Hassan Joho (@HassanAliJoho) July 25, 2015
The conversation were forthcoming and offered a forum where they can critique leadership and governance without the shouting that characterizes political rallies. The conversations are an important first step for citizens to claim their rightful voice in the political space.
Maskani coordinator, Peter Irungu said
“These conversations shall go on. We promise to organize more other events in the coming weeks.”
All those who attended felt a sigh of relief that perhaps all the sentiments they aired will finally be conveyed to those in power and they will be forged into action.