It is time that gays speak their truth clearly and the rest of us listened without prejudice

First published Sunday Standard, January 21, 2018. Kindly reproduced here with permission from the Standard Group

My first homosexual experience happened with a male friend at the age of nineteen. We came across an older man who was lying on the ground, bleeding and crying profusely. We helped him to his feet while he explained through tears that he had meant no harm. He had simply made a pass at another man and that man’s response was to beat him almost to a pulp. Reflecting back on that incident in the context of the current case before High Court, I cannot express how far we have come as a country.

A few years back, an opinion poll noted that 86% of Kenyans were okay living next to neighbors of a different ethnicity, religion or who HIV/AIDs. By contrast, only 14% would be comfortable living next to people who were gay or lesbian. Stigma and persecution of gay communities makes it impossible to estimate the size of the community. They are one of our most invisible communities.

What is visible, is the derision and violence this community continues to experience. 89% of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) Kenyans who have openly expressed their sexuality have experienced being disowned at home, ostracized and/or fired from their workplace and ridiculed by their communities.

A small number of religious and political leaders have openly called on their followers to expose and arrest them or eject them from their places of worship. Seemingly compassionate people like you or me have called for boycotts of businesses owned by gays, “their” removal from “our” apartment blocks and even caning them publicly. Our authorities have banned movies and cartoons fearing their impact on us. Last year, our Commander in Censorship Ezikiel Mutua became the subject of a Trevor Noah show after he proposed placing two male lions photographed having intercourse in quarantine.

This toxicity around same sex relationships has ended up in blackmail, risky sexual behavior, depression and the denial of essential services available to others. Yet, by African standards, Kenya is increasingly becoming a more open, honest and liberal society on this issue. President Kenyatta’s famous phrase “Gays are a non-issue in Kenya” when pressed by President Obama in 2015 was an important recognition that this sexual minority would not be treated any different from heterosexual Kenyans.

It is in this context that Senior Counsel Paul Muite rose this week to make a historic case before our High Court to de-criminalise sexual orientation and same sex intimacy. His client, the National Gay and Lesbian Rights Commission seeks to demonstrate that sections 162 and 165 of the Penal Code are incompatible with national values and our bill of rights. They cite the right of all people to realize their full potential (Article 19), freedom from discrimination and the right to equal opportunity (Article 27), dignity (Article 28) and privacy (Article 31).

By comparison, Sections 162 and 165 of the Penal Code are relics handed down by British colonial law. They outlaw “carnal knowledge between men”, “indecency” and sodomy as an unnatural acts. Ta’imagini going to jail for fourteen years for having consensual sex with another human being you love.

The case is a bold one. It is up against concerns that if we freely choose our sexual partners this will be the end of our religious values, morals and the institution of marriage. These thoughts are as old as the Sections the Commission seeks to strike out.

Three decades after my first experience of “gay bashing”, things have become clearer for me. Human beings love to think in binaries of man or woman, right or wrong, us and them. There is nothing wrong or bad in this, but it may be a lighter form of insanity. Secretly, we know that the world is more complicated than these simple binary thoughts we hold in our heads. Male female relationships are not the only form of sexual orientation, they are simply, only the most common.

Secondly, gays seem to be the only distinct community besides Christian and Muslims who are actively fighting for the institution of marriage globally. Perhaps, it is time they formed an alliance? Stigma and violence has no place in our society. It is time that gays took the space in this great country to speak their truth clearly and without fear. It also time the rest of us listened without prejudice.

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Halt forced evictions and let the Sengwer people be

First published Sunday Standard, January 14, 2018. Kindly reproduced here with permission from the Standard Group. This version corrects two factual errors on the total number of Sengwer and the year of the previous evictions in the print version.

While most Kenyans were celebrating the birthday of Jesus Christ and the Christmas holidays, our Kenya Forest Services were raiding several homes, destroying private property and shooting at members of the Sengwer community in Embobut forest. Attempts by the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights to access the area and investigate the incidents have to date been blocked by KFS.

Exposed nationally and internationally, an urgent meeting was convened by our Environment Cabinet Secretary to get at the source of the tensions this week. The powerful dialogue revealed a situation that can only be described in the words of my children as a “hot mess” that needs urgent resolution in the coming weeks.

The Sengwer are an indigenous community of 16,000 Kenyans. They live in the Embobut Forest on the Cherenganyi Hills on the western side of the Rift Valley. Traditionally, hunter gatherers and bee hive keepers, the Sengwer have been displaced several times from their ancestoral forest-lands. Colonial security and conservation practices denied them access to the forests. Another round of forced evictions were carried out to run World Bank funded programmes in 2013/4.

The Cherangany forest complex are at the center of important and competing issues. The issues range from historical injustices, ethnicity, resource access, climate change mitigation and human rights. Interests of ancestoral and non-ancestoral communities, saw-millers, land-speculators, conservationists and that age old rivalry between the Pokot and Marakwet have created a free–for-all that needs careful transformation.

It would be a mistake to see this purely as forest conservation versus community habitation issue. The colonial settlers did this and left an historical injustice that is only being tackled now in the wake of our constitution. It is true that the future of our food security and water resources for more than half of the country are at stake.

Eleven counties are directly affected by what happens in the Cherangany forest complex. Forest depletion here, is dry streams and rivers, no hydro-electricity and irrigation for farms in several counties, Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago stressed at the difficult discussions on Wednesday.

The Sengwer understand this. Their leaders stress their commitment to participatory forest conservation management. Various independent assessments demonstrate the Sengwer are not guilty of major deforestation. The problem lies with the saw millers, land-grabbers and non-ancestoral communities that are clearing the forest for commercial purposes.

Speaking truth to power this week, Sengwer leaders publicly called on the Ministry to stop the forced evictions, facilitate an independent investigation into the destruction of their property and violence and initiate community solution oriented dialogues in the forest. The European Union stated a solution has to be found for they cannot fund programmes that violate the rights of Kenyans. They called for dialogue to restore the conditions for a smooth programme.

One of Kenya’s best Governors according to Infotrak, Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos publicly committed to leading these talks back in the county. The Environment Cabinet Secretary hailed the honest dialogue but disappointedly fell short of declaring forced evictions was not Government policy and more importantly, they would be halted. The powerful question “are we, unarmed Sengwer, armed militia to be shot at like this?” asked by Sengwer leader Elias remains unanswered.

Left unchecked, the manner in which KFS are currently undertaking the forced evictions will predictably lead to loss of life in the coming days. We will be forced to wrestle with our conscience and ask must we kill indigenous people to save indigenous forests?

Governor Alex Tolgos and Cabinet Secretary Judy Wakhungu must urgently match this week’s excellent dialogue by facilitating the independent investigation, compensation for the destruction and ground-level dialogues. The tensions in the Embobut forest are complex and need careful distinguishing and humane follow up.

To not do this, is to risk a multi-million investment that is important for the very survival of Kenya. It will also violate our constitution and in particular, Articles 22 and 63 that state all of us must be free from discrimination and indigenous communities must have a right to their ancestoral lands.

Forcefully evicting and harming indigenous people to save indigenous forests would lastly, lead some of us to wonder. Is the Tinwoo tree more valued and safer than the Sengwer in 2018? Must we get stuck in this binary argument of trees or people. Can we not do both?

To take action by sending a letter to the authorities click here

Lets all safeguard human rights gains

First published Sunday Standard, January 7, 2018. Kindly reproduced here with permission from the Standard Group

Seventy years ago, world leaders gathered in Paris to declare never again to the violent atrocities seen in Nazi Germany. Facing their own gulags, subjects of the British Empire met to make a similar declaration in Nairobi.

Under the leadership of the Kenya African Union, they called for an end to the white settler colonialism. They also demanded their right to vote, politically participate and to be free from discrimination and persecution. As the world celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is clear both conversations transformed the world and Kenya.

Attending 83-year old Roseline Kahumbu’s funeral this week, I was struck by the relationship between global events and the lives and choices individuals make. Born into a rural English family in the 1930s, she married the London based Kenyan student John Kahumbu three years before Kenya’s Independence.

The interracial couple and their children faced racism both in Britain and upon their return, in Kenya. “Roz” consistently made independent and radical choices that startled most of her peers for the next fifty years of her life.

Like many of her generation who have recently departed or now in their sunset years like the late unionist J.D. Akumu and artist Terry Hirst or writer Amma Ata Aidoo and activist Zarina Patel, they crossed huge geographical and cultural borders to raise their families and transform Kenya and Africa.

They felt and acted on the impulse that some rules needed to be intentionally broken for society to breathe. Their lives leave us important lessons. Lives forged in uncertainty and risk tell the best stories. Also, that in the presence of injustice and discrimination, cohesive, compassionate and caring societies have always been created by rebels.

The lives they wanted are now enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Chapter Four and the Bill of Rights of our Constitution. This year marks a global celebration and reflection of our progress.

Rising global levels of extremism, hate-speech, neglect and violence may suggest that the Declaration is no longer relevant. To think this, would be overlook even very recent achievements. Populations are eating better, poverty levels are dropping and the gender gap is narrowing. The right to health inched closer with new vaccines for cholera and decreases in deaths caused by AIDS, cancer, diarrhea and respiratory diseases in 2017.

As Kenyans, we have come so far it would take an astrologist to measure the cosmic distance we have covered since 1948. That our country has become more open, active and free did not happen by chance.

Independence movements, countless civic organisations like the Green Belt Movement, Kituo cha Sheria, FIDA and Kenyan Human Rights Commission as well as new institutions like the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission have blazed the way.

As the Jubilee grapples with establishing new national ministries this week, it could expand a page from the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs under the previous NARC Government. The new cabinet needs to be more deliberative and intentional how it wants to collaborate with womens’ organisations, trade unions, NGOs, community and ward associations and opposition parties.

Jubilee must accelerate public participation standards and assign it a core ministry. The right to participate has been an active demand since the early days of KAU and Jubilee ignores this history at its own peril. As our neighboring Ethiopia discovered this week, a more open and responsive state has always been a more resilient way of governing.

Leaving this as a blind spot in the new administration is a recipe for another five years of unproductive fire-fighting by reactive hardliners. Housing, food, health and jobs are also core economic and social rights. Framing them as only pillars and mega-projects sucks from them their real promise to us as a country. The cabinet needs to go beyond media sound-bites, demonstrate clear strategies for eliminating corruption and how these mega-projects will benefit people not just private business.

There is much we can be thankful for since that global meeting in 1948. It doesn’t matter whether we are personally affected by human rights, dignity and unjust violations or not.

We all owe it to Rosaline Kahumbu, her sunset generation and those making the same choices today to continue this cause.

Jobs with justice: A message for county leaders this Christmas

First published Sunday Standard, December 24, 2017. Kindly reproduced here with permission from the Standard Group

The chickens just came home to roost. Identity based political campaigns just deteriorated into discriminatory employment policies in two very different counties. The Kiambu County Assembly has just passed a motion to force employers to give seven out of all ten jobs to locals. Kilifi MCAs are now threatening to pass a similar motion. The risk to national cohesion today and tomorrow should be all too clear.

Africans are familiar with discriminatory “lock out” policies. Our recent history is full of it. Colonialism introduced hierarchical systems based on race, ethnicity and gender. Kipande pass books restricted our freedom of movement. Discriminatory laws classified where we could live, work and marry.

Drive to the home of one of Kiambu’s most famous freedom fighters Gitũ wa Kahengeri and he will tell you how the Gĩkũyũ were pitted against Luos for jobs and homes in the fifties; how the residents of Bahati and Kaloleni constituencies organized to desegregate their neighborhoods and smashed colonial designed ethnic enclaves and how he and the Kenya Land and Freedom Army took up arms to correct this indignity. There is a very sad irony therefore in what the Kiambu County Assembly has just done. Kiambu experienced the horror of colonial discrimination very acutely in the fifties.

Our diasporan cousins have not had it any better. They have resisted the indignity of slavery and discriminatory “lock out” policies and practices for four hundred years. They are still doing it. Over 100,000 men and women sued their employers for gender, sexual choice and racial based discrimination in the North America last year. Since Travyon Martin was killed in 2014, the Black Lives Matter movement have organized 2,500 protest marches to stop the use of lethal force by police against young African-American men.

Our story cannot be told without acknowledging how devastating prejudice, discrimination and exclusion was and is. Divide and rule policies have always been primary tools for undemocratic and divisive leaders. Cold calculations based on who belongs and who doesn’t, us and them, has always driven this thinking. It informs the treatment of the Rohingya of Myanmar, Libyan slavery and anti-immigration racism globally.

Fortunately, our constitution and labor laws forbids discriminatory policy and practises. If effected today, both County Governments and employers risk an avalanche of expensive labor discrimination law suits. In entertaining these ideas, our Kiambu representatives also lose the opportunity to provide real leadership for all the hopeless and unemployed regardless of their ethnicity.

After restricting jobs, County Assemblies could compel minority communities to register at Bureaus of Non-Majority Community Affairs and legislate Non-Majority Areas Acts. They could then try to prohibit inter-marriage, bank loans, procurement and essential services. All this is only a step away, if this Kiambu law is effected and Kilifi MCAs press on.

The economic challenges facing Governor BabaYao and Deputy Governor Nyoro play out nationally. Joblessness stalks too many young men and women. Kiambu youth between the ages of 15-34 years are set to grow by 40% and job opportunities are not growing as fast. Other counties like Kilifi face not only this challenge but also higher levels of poverty, inequalities and an acute sense of historical injustice. Given these challenges, what stops our constitutional promise on non-discrimination being raped by discriminatory “our people” county policies?

So what other options exist for leaders who want to govern all and not just those that share their mother tongue or last names? Fortunately, the team that produced the Kiambu Manifesto 2017-2022 need not look far. The “United for Kiambu” team were elected on an ambitious social-economic agenda that rested on inclusiveness as a core value and attractive investment projects.

Perhaps, we just need to remind them that it was this vision that got them elected. It is the vision of a competent and competitive workforce that will unleash the promise of their county. “Together we grow stronger” is not just a campaign slogan, it is what won the hearts and minds of voters. There are lessons here for other County Governments.

Lastly, it is worth adapting and applying the wisdom of Colossians 3.11 on this Christmas Eve. In Kiambu and all of our counties, there is not the circumcised or the uncircumcised, the resident or the migrant, the Christian or the Muslim, only the example of Jesus Christ, that’s all. To those that celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Merry Christmas. Enjoy this holiday season all.

 

Sex Abuse has no place in our society

First published Sunday Standard, December 17, 2017. Kindly reproduced here with permission from the Standard Group

International Human Rights Day last Sunday closed 16 days of public awareness activism against sexual violence. Heightened concerns about the safety of Kenyan women and girls made these activities more important. Recently, post-election violence, global #MeToo and #IBelieveHer campaigns and sexual assault cases against business leaders have dominated our lives and the media. Perhaps, it’s time again for another brother to brother conversation.

Despite the courage and impact of the #MyDressMyChoice campaign in 2014, our homes, workspaces and public spaces are not getting any safer. 70% of Kenyan women still face harassment on public transport and one in three women experience sexual harassment. In the aftermath of our longest elections season ever, men in police uniform allegedly sexually assaulted 65 women, 3 men and 3 children.

Teachers Service Commission Chief Executive Nancy Macharia just banned 41 teachers for misconduct, many of whom for having sex with their students. Over one in ten Kenyan children have been abused by the age of 18 and 35% of our youth recently expressed they do not feel safe from sexual assault. Sex for promotion, referrals, grades, financial benefits and favors is still with us guys.

For some of us, we feel entitled to demand sex from those less powerful than us. In so doing, we deliberately place ourselves in the cross-hairs of our Constitution and the Sexual Offences Act. We ignore that active agreement is necessary for consensual sex and that both parties must be able to make this choice freely without fear of any consequences.

For others, we are unconscious of the power we hold and exercise. This state of unconsciousness leaves us unclear what the boundaries are. What differentiates flirting and stalking, compliments and unwanted pressure, casual sex and intimidation among colleagues for instance? As the number of women in powerful positions grow, they may face these same leadership risks. They too, will have to look at the way they wield and share power across the sexes.

Regardless of whether we are conscious or unconscious, our sense of entitlement and misuse of leadership power and privilege gets us into trouble every time. By not upping our game, we also feed these horrific statistics and tragic survivor stories.

In the last few weeks, our Taita Taveta, Nakuru and Nyandarua County Governments have introduced “decent” dress codes for both men and women. The Nairobi County Assembly has also pressed for the closure of brothels in our capital city. These efforts seek to stop the over-sexualisation of our workplaces and neighborhoods. Alone, they are insufficient to deal with this form of white collar crime.

The risks to personal and institutional reputations has also led some leaders to call for more impersonal organisations. Should we discourage personal relationships, sharing our sex life (or lack of it) and ban any form of intimacy in the workplace, for instance?

We all miss an important point at our own risk. Sexual violence is any UNWANTED sexual act, comment or sexual advance that takes place irrespective of the relationship or setting. Banning mini-skirts or trying to control what else women wear is simply missing the point. So is, trying to assess whether she was in the right place at the right time with the right person. If this was true, how can we explain that globally, intimate partners are response for one in three cases of physical or sexual violence? Neither spouses nor our children are safe in all our homes and neighborhoods yet.

In the wake of many recent local and international cases, perhaps we need a man’s checklist to creating violence free homes, workplaces and public spaces. On my Man Up List would be ensuring all our spaces have assertive and unifying women leaders, a zero-tolerance culture and clear policies on sexual harassment, safe reporting and swift investigation mechanisms. The call for gender based affirmative action in our Cabinet and the National Assembly is as relevant for all our offices and civic associations.

The rest is just common-sense. Whenever our homes, work-spaces and public spaces are dominated by men, we open the door for abuse and place others at risk. We also risk our reputation when we have secret intimate relationships with women who report to us. Whether we as men, are conscious of it or not, our power over others is real. We must exercise our choices with care.

Thanks to Winnie and Irwin for the discussion that generated some of these ideas.

2017 December 17 Sexual violence

Seal cracks in public health to address inequalities

First published Sunday Standard, December 10, 2017. Kindly reproduced here with permission from the Standard Group

Doctors are clear now that several factors or vectors are responsible for microbes turning into the pathogens that can cripple our bodies. It is not being cold that gives us the flu. It is the combination of our exposure to viruses and low levels of immunity usually does it. It is the same with governance, a fact our leaders should not ignore as they select their cabinet for the next five-year term.

This week, Oxfam released new and startling statistics on inequalities in Kenya. 8,300 individuals own more wealth than 44 million Kenyans. 19 million people are absolutely poor and 6 million are completely destitute. Yet, the number of millionaires are set to grow by 80%. Extreme inequality is now out of control.

Inequalities slice across gender, class and geography. It directly affects our access to health and other essential services. One in four Kenyans do not have regular access to healthcare. 66% of our population risks bankruptcy by surgery or hospitalization bills. Middle and upper-class women have three times more access to maternal health-care than those living in poverty. Tragically, arriving dead on arrival or being detained at child-birth is a familiar danger for too many now. How we manage our public health deeply matters.

Health is also big business. By 2014, it grew to become a Kshs 234 billion business across a range of private, public and not for profit services. The intensity of these competing interests pit international, national and county interests against each other.

Return on investment rather than development assistance is increasingly the lens by which North American, European and Asian governments and companies view Kenya’s health sector. DFID recently shifted its policy from “aid not for commercial interest” to “aid with spin off commercial results”. The new Dutch policy “A world to gain: A New Agenda for Aid, Trade and Investment” emphasizes market access by Dutch companies. Similar aid and trade policies exist in the US and China.

Bolstered by this, Philips, GE Healthcare and Toshiba lead new public private partnerships like Managed Equipment Services that fund a range of public private projects across the counties. Companies like Abraaj Health Group have recently acquired 50% ownership in the Avenue Group of hospitals among other investments including Brookside Dairy Group and the Java chain of restaurants.

Universal primary healthcare is correctly a priority for both national and county governments. To succeed, they will have to improve their capacity for direct policy control and regulation. We know from the 1980s that unregulated privatization led to health workers being laid off, increased health-care disparities and the collapse of the public health systems across Africa.

We must do more to seal the factors or vectors that weaken our public health system. The revolving door between policy-making and private business is simply too fluid. Corporate business advisory board positions, research funding and technical assistance crowd out the voice and interest of patients and the public. Over-invoicing, dubious investments, beneficiary inequities and arbitrary benefits changes challenge the impact of our National Health Insurance Fund.

Why did it take so long to bring the doctors’ strike to an end? We now know that the primary beneficiaries of the strikes were private facilities. As patient access dropped 33% in our public hospitals, twice as many patients accessed private facilities this year than in 2016.

Tenderpreneurs still stalk the corridors of our public hospitals and chase after our ambulances with too much confidence. 2015 and 2016 saw massive diversion of public funds in highly inflated procurement deals, non-essential purchases, double budgeting and last minute budgetary supplements. Not even fixed generators are safe as we learned in the case of Tharaka Nithi.

These risks conspire to produce low levels of immunity within our public health system. Left unchecked, they will overwhelm it. Private healthcare does not undermine our right to health. If regulated well, it compliments it. Citizens must press for robust conflict of interest policies and greater regulatory oversight in line with national standards. Our 47+1 Governments must transparently regulate the excessive influence of business and increase the influential role of citizens in decision-making. Health business associations must hold corporates liable for any illegal activity and actively challenge all forms of corruption.

By doing this, profits will not threaten patients and microbes can be stopped from becoming pathogens and overwhelming our nation’s health and prosperity.

Without leadership, hope and constructive non-violent engagement is more difficult

Apologies to my Sunday Standard readership. A tech breakdown stopped this article reaching the newsroom. The column resumes next week.

A week in South Africa with social justice activists ignited in me again the power of leadership and community action. Convened by the Social Change Initiative, we came from Cape Town, Gaborone, Dublin, Nairobi and New York and elsewhere to discuss how to deepen democracy, make policing safer and empower displaced populations. The discussions offer much for Kenya fresh out from the recent General Elections.

Any visitor to South Africa quickly feels the uncertainty of their impending General Elections in 2019. Later this month, President Jacob Zuma’s successor will probably be chosen in the 54th National Conference of the African National Congress. However, growing mass disillusionment with huge corruption scandals and nepotism around the Presidency and the Government’s inability to generate jobs and essential services present new openings for opposition parties like the Economic Freedom Fighters and Democratic Alliance. Drunk with power and unable to make a mid-course correction, the 105-year-old party of the late Nelson Mandela is more vulnerable than it has ever been. Smelling blood, the opposition circles in for the kill.

Like Kenya, the lungs of South African cities have always been its informal settlements. Khayelitsha (pronounced Kai-litsha) is the most famous in Cape Town. Its 400,000 residents earn just under Kshs 16,000 a month on average. Crime, gang warfare and gender-based violence are rife. Essential services like water and sanitation are inadequate. Desperate for a change, residents supported by the Social Justice Coalition have prosecuted the Police for not allocating enough resources to keeping the community safe. They argue more police resources can be found in the less populated and richer neighborhoods. Inequality is real and the ANC Government has not got it right yet.

The District 6 museum stands in the heart of Cape Town. Before it was declared a whites-only area in the sixties, District 6 was a relatively cosmopolitan neighborhood of Cape Malays, Xhosa, English and Afrikaans-speaking whites and Indians. By 1983, 60,000 men, women and children had been bull-dozed and forcibly evicted from District 6. Residents established a Museum and Foundation in 1994 and the Hands Off District 6 Committee mobilised to stop investment and re-development for whites only. In 2008, President Mandela handed keys to the first of the families to return to District 6. Collective action by community organisers and the state rectified a historical grievance.

Like South Africa, Kenya grapples with bad governance, corruption, inequalities and historical grievances. Our community leaders, like theirs, grow weary of a political economy that leaves millions excluded and deeply frustrated. As our youth become disillusioned with our public offices and insurrectionist, representative democracy matters less. Jay Naidoo’s recent observations that violent destruction has become a legitimate way of expressing grievance in South Africa applies equally to Kenya. Violence is seeping into both of our political cultures. In these circumstances, keeping hope alive and non-violent, constructive engagement becomes more difficult.

Reflecting on this and other challenges, Stephanie Leonard reminded me of Bayard Rustin. A gay civil rights activist, Rustin was Martin Luther King jr.’s mentor and strategist. It was Rustin’s strategic brilliance that crafted the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the famous march on Washington from where King Jr. would declare his famous “I have a dream” speech. He was known for simplifying complex civil rights issues into only three questions, what is the main problem, what change is needed and who has the power to make it happen?

Twenty-six years after he died, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded him America’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Rustin’s greatest example to us lies in the courage he took to be his authentic self when the world was not ready for his vision, values or choices. Today, he would probably argue, it is not our job to make those who discriminate, exclude or steal from the public comfortable. It is our responsibility to make them uncomfortable until the world we want, becomes a reality.

This month, your County Government seeks your guidance on how to spend your taxes. This moment only comes once every five years. The County Integrated Development Plans (CIDP) will frame your County Government’s investment in your family and community. Under investment and the denial of essential services leaves the communities of Khayelitsha with little dignity or rights. If you and your community do not speak up like District 6, how will the world you both want, show up? #ChoosePowerfully

December 3, 2017

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