Thursday, December 13, 2007

Transcript for PBS documentary on KochFM

Transcript PBS America documentary on Koch.

After of all this misery and the malfeasance it's often useful to get a booster shot of hope from folks who take action when faced with a community in crisis.

One place that's happening is Nairobi, Kenya, in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Africa. It's the story of a little radio station being run out of a shipping container by and for the people of Nairobi's, Korogocho slum. While the three hundred thousand residents there do pay taxes, they don't get much back from the government in the way of infrastructure or services, and that's just one of the things Koch-fm is looking to change.
Dan Logan produced our report.

BRANCACCIO: Nairobi, Kenya is the bustling commercial hub of East Africa.

But of the city's three million residents, an estimated one-third... that's one million people... live like this.

Right in the middle of Nairobi, you'll find some of the most neglected places on earth... massive slums, where people live in makeshift earth-and-metal huts.

One of those settlements is called Korogocho - which, in Swahili, means scrap metal. It's located right next to a massive garbage dump. People mingle with scavenger birds, picking through the wasteland.

With poverty and disease like this, you can't blame someone for losing hope in this place.

But a group of upstart twenty-somethings are stirring up change.

KOCH FM DJ: We are broadcasting live, straight from the heart of Korogocho and remember this is the first ever community radio station to ever hit Nairobi, so keep it locked to 99.9 FM.

BRANCACCIO: Korogocho or "Koch" for short has its own radio station: Koch fm... a new voice, broadcasting in Swahili and English, for a community that has little sway with its politicians.

WANJIKU: It's high time that young people take action. Young people start acting and just changing the mentality of people.

BRANCACCIO: Helen Wanjiku founded Koch fm nearly two years ago when she was twenty-three. She grew up in Korogocho... but when she was fourteen, one of the slum's local gangs threatened her life and her family.

WANJIKU: They would've come. They would have raped us. And then after raping us, they would have killed us.

BRANCACCIO: She escaped Korogocho and got a college education, thanks to an aunt outside the slum who took her in.

But two years ago, she got word that a close friend had been viciously murdered in a case of domestic abuse. Wanjiku decided to return.

WANJIKU: If maybe I had told her, "If your husband beats you up, please get out." Then, this will not have happened. So that's why I came back.

BRANCACCIO: You found it unacceptable to be too far away because you thought you could do some good here.

WANJIKU: If you get out and go, you tend to forget the problems that you have left behind. But being part of those problems, then you can get solutions for them.

BRANCACCIO: Community radio - cheap to produce and easy to access, compared to television - is a powerful solution for the problems of the developing world, according to aid organizations like the World Bank and the U.N. they've increased their support for radio in recent years... Because its efficiency allows places like Korogocho to tune in to civic life.

KOCH FM DJ: You have to stand for your rights, because when you don't do that, you're killing yourself, you're killing your loved ones...

BRANCACCIO: Getting Koch FM on the air was a big deal. Its founding members raised thirty thousand dollars and bought two shipping containers, fitted with a metal roof, to house the studio. Local authorities were resistant... so Helen and her crew used the element of surprise.

WANJIKU: We went and we built the two containers. We had not asked authority. Like, we had not asked permission.

BRANCACCIO: You didn't ask the authority for permission?

WANJIKU: No, this is a chief—I mean, this is a youth camp. They're supposed to put—build things here. So we didn't ask.

BRANCACCIO: So one day the authorities woke up and there were two shipping containers here?

WANJIKU: Yes. And they came and they locked them and they told us that we are not supposed to put them here.

BRANCACCIO: What could you do then?

WANJIKU: We went around. We brought some things and just came and opened them forcefully.

BRANCACCIO: In the confrontation that followed, another Koch fm founder, Francis Ngira, says he was physically assaulted by the police.

NGIRA: They started beating me up. Then I was like okay, you can beat me. You can hit me. You can jail me. But you won't change me into what you want me to be.

BRANCACCIO: Eventually, Koch FM prevailed, as local authorities backed down and Kenya's communications commission gave them a broadcast frequency... After months of protest.

WANJIKU: We didn't give up. We hassled. Some of us were arrested. But by the end of the day, justice was done.

BRANCACCIO: And you have a license.

WANJIKU: Yeah. Now we have a license. We are broadcasting freely. We can say anything we want to say to educate people.

BRANCACCIO: It's estimated Koch FM's signal reaches 300,000 listeners. With a national election approaching next month, there is heated discussion of topics like government corruption.

KOCH FM DJ: Every day of the budget we know there is money which is allocated for that. What happens to this money? Who is supposed to take care of this?

BRANCACCIO: People in Korogocho do pay taxes and are represented in Kenya's parliament. But city services like sanitation remain virtually non-existent.

WANJIKU: The government has neglected us. They think we are not—not people. They have not given us good water. They have not given us proper sewage system. We have to act as people from the community.

BRANCACCIO: Especially crucial for Helen Wanjiku is the issue of women's empowerment... the subject of her own radio show.

WANJIKU: It will take a lot of time. But one day, we will start realizing that if a man can build a house, so can a woman.

BRANCACCIO: And these are some of the issues you discuss on your—on your program?

WANJIKU: On my program. Yes.

BRANCACCIO: The gender program. What's it actually called?

WANJIKU: Strength of a woman.

BRANCACCIO: Strength of a woman.

WANJIKU: Uh-huh.

BRANCACCIO: Koch FM takes on serious issues. But they've found a way to package them in an engaging way, so people actually listen.

WANJIKU: We call ourselves "Edutainment".


WANJIKU: Yes. Edutainment. We believe in educating people through an entertaining way.

BRANCACCIO: An interational non-profit called "Developing Radio Partners" has identified benchmarks for community radio. Koch FM meets some, including a clear mission... a defined audience... and local content.

What they need to work on is financial independence. Grants from George Soros and a coalition of Norwegian churches help pay for equipment. But donor funds might not be around forever.

WANJIKU: What if maybe one day they decide to pull out? The radio station is going to fail. And so what we are doing, we are trying to sell T-shirts. And also—we also come up with adverts, which will be selling airtime to people and also programs.

BRANCACCIO: Oh, so maybe you'd bring on advertisements to the station?

WANJIKU: Yes we are—we will bring on advertisement.

BRANCACCIO: There is hope that those money-making plans will eventually pay people's salaries... in what is now an all-volunteer effort to be the voice for a forgotten community.

KOCH FM DJ: For us here at Koch FM, 99.9, the only radio that gives you the whole reality and nothing but the reality. We are signing out.

BRANCACCIO: And that's it for NOW. From Minneapolis, I'm David Brancaccio. We'll see you next week.

Thanks PBS. Oti

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Slum Survivor

AFRICA: Slum Survivors - new IRIN film released

Most slum dwellers never finish school and end up trapped in poverty

Worldwide, more than a billion people live in slums, with as many as one million in Kibera, Africa’s largest such settlement, in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Slum Survivors, IRIN’s first full-length documentary, tells some of their stories.

Meet Carol

Meet Carol, a single mother of three, who walks miles each day in search of work washing other people’s clothes. It is a hand-to-mouth existence - sometimes she gets work and buys food, but most of the time she and her children go to bed hungry.

Carol’s situation is so desperate that on more than one occasion she has come close to suicide. With no-one to rely on for support, she’s left hoping for miracles.

“We hope that one day God will come down – we keep on saying that. One day God will come down and change our situations.”

Dennis Onyango fell into poverty when his father left his mother for another woman. Forced out of school because of unpaid fees, he ended up in Mombasa where he found work as a DJ.

Life was good until inter-ethnic fighting forced Dennis back to the safety of Nairobi. But poverty and desperation pushed him into a life of crime.

“Many of my friends had guns. I had grown up in the hands of the police because my father was a policeman. He used to leave his gun on the table so I knew how to dismantle and reassemble guns, so my friends used to bring their guns to me for cleaning - that’s how I got started.”

But these days, Dennis is trying to change. He wants to turn his back on crime and start afresh.

Patrick Mburu says he has lost many friends to crime and believes hard work is the only way out of poverty for him and his young family. His parents were both alcoholics and so he has had to fend for himself from a young age.

Patrick empties latrines for a living. Most toilets in Kibera are privately owned and residents must pay to use them. There are so few toilets that on average each one is shared by more than a thousand people.

Most slum dwellers never finish school and end up trapped in poverty, which is why Patrick is adamant his kids will get an education.

“In Kenya, no education means you can’t get a good job; that’s why I send my son to a good school, because I want him to know that the job that I do is only for people like me who didn’t go to school.

“So, I will struggle - I will carry a lot of shit, I will do anything but steal to keep him in school.”

Abdul Kassim also believes in the importance of education. He works as a telecoms engineer, but puts most of his income into a free secondary school for girls, which he started in January 2006.

“I saw that there was no gender equity between the boy child and the girl child here in Kibera, and so we started a girl’s soccer team. Then all the challenges, all the bad things that happen within Kibera saw some of them getting into early marriages, some of them got pregnant - there was a time when I lost the entire striking force of my team and it brought into question the starting of another alternative, which was nothing but education.”

Christina, 17, is just one of 48 pupils at Abdul’s school but her story is typical. She lives with her mother, father and five siblings in a one-room shack. Her parents’ relationship is fraught and Christina is often left alone in charge of the house.

When she finished primary school, her father refused to send her to secondary school, claiming that educating girls was a waste of money.

“My dad wants everyone to drop out of school. He complains that he has no money, or that he’s sick … I don’t know … I don’t know why he doesn’t want us to learn.”

Christina has a hole in her heart - a serious condition for which she should take daily medication but the cost - US$10 a day - is far beyond her family’s means. School, a job and then a salary might just save her life.

For Abdul, education is the key to solving the problems of the urban poor and that is why he started the school. He has lived here all his life and has seen Kibera change beyond recognition as more and more people flood into the city in search of a better life.

“I don’t see why people are living the way they are living in Kibera, or in any other slums, there is no reason - there is no justification.

“And in Kibera if this issue is not handled at some time this problem is going to come knocking at people’s doors - and those who think it’s not their problem might be surprised one day when this problem comes knocking at their door.”

New film must see! Oti

It's them or them

For a moment I want to believe that the recent steadman polls are credible and that either Raila or Kibaki will win the elections. That being the case my concern is that we will not have made any significant progress.

Kenyan politics being what they are; we have allowed a culture of defection and manipulation of political parties so that they no longer exists on the basis of ideology but rather as vehichles to get into parliament. During the nomination there was alot of fury as candidates who lost blamed the top leadership of the parties for rigging the nominations. After these incidents candidates switched parties and are now convasing voters.

Consider the situation in Australia where the incumbent John Howard resigned after losing an election, he went with his running mate. He took responsibility for the parties dismal performance. It would have been ridiculous if he had defected to the Greens or crossed over to the Christian Democrats. If he was a seasoned Kenyan politician he would have jumped ship, (we have seen the leader of oppossition in Kenya supporting the government for a second term).

The instituion of oppossition in my understanding means that political parties seek to address issues in a different way and that in most cases they are motivated by different ideologies. In Kenya we have witnessed jumping of ship that can only be interpreted as oportunistic political esurvival tacttics. By allowing people to defect left and right we now have a situation where both leading parties represent the best and the worst politicians in Kenyan history so whichever way the vote swings we will not have fundamental changes.

Take an instance of the Anglo leasing scandal which of the two governments is likely to prosecute the perpertrators? Is it ODM with a former permanent secretary of internal security or PNU with a former minister in the same docket?

It makes no sense that people are fighting and in some areas(Kuresoi reportedly politically instigated clashes) killing each other for 'their' party. Parties which will wellcome defectors without questioning their past and looking if they reflect the parties aspirations. Of what use is it for a party to have amongst its ranks people who have been mentioned or investigated for curruption and abuse of office? We have weak parties whose decision making mechanisms are still one man shows, that are revived every 5 years in time for an election. Because we pride ourselves in democracy we must start by reforming our political parties so that they are accountable to the membership. The membership of the parties must also committ themselves to participate in internal political affairs and through that we shall develop a much vibrant and consiouc society.

For us to have a government that will take action on both pre colonial and post colonial errors we need a breed of leadership that has not benefiited directly from the status quo and on that basis I see the forth comming elections as part of the long journey that Kenya must take as we walk towards a better government. (With due respect to all the people who have blown the whistle while they were still in government).

Am proud that at the end of it all we will have played our noble civic duty, whether the elected president delivers the kind of leadership that responds to the plight of people in Korogocho and Kibera and other marginalized group is another thing.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Slum dwellers of Nairobi want to see real change

Extract from Nation Newspaper Publication Date: 12/3/2007

IN ALMOST EVERY COUNTRY, opposition politics tends to be concentrated in large cities. This is because levels of literacy, awareness and inequality tend to be higher in cities, and therefore it is in cities that levels of dissatisfaction with the status quo are most pronounced.

That is why politicians try so hard to appease their urban poor constituents in an election year. Slums become the sites of rallies and recruitment grounds for voters.

It is the season when idle slum youth find work — as rabble-rousers or disrupters of rallies. Many take on this work because it is the only one they can find.

Many become the main casualties of violence during elections. What they don’t realise is that once the elections are over, and their candidate has won, party manifestos and visions launched during the election period will be forgotten and they will go back to where they came from — slums.

Fortunately, Nairobi’s slum-dwellers — who comprise more than half the city’s population — are fighting back with their own manifesto.

Developed through a series of meetings in eight constituencies in Nairobi, the People’s Manifesto is a synthesis of the aspirations and views of people living in Nairobi’s informal settlements.

The process leading to the development of the manifesto was spearheaded by three community-based organisations — the Nairobi People’s Settlement Network, Muungano wa Wanavijiji, and the Miss Koch Initiative (a youth group in Korogocho).

The demands of the slum communities focus mainly on policy, legislation, and not surprisingly, land, security and infrastructure.

Among other things, the People’s Manifeso calls for the enactment of a new constitution that promotes people’s participation, the reduction of taxes on essential commodities, the provision of people’s participation in the national budgeting process, the establishment of a non-politicised youth fund, the development of a national slum upgrading policy, and the abolition of the shoot-to-kill culture among police,.

They also want the development of infrastructure within slum settlements, and the establishment of a transport system that is free of exploitation.

A visit to a Nairobi slum is not a pleasant experience. Open sewers, filth and “flying toilets” create a stench that is so overwhelming, it lingers in one’s nostrils for days afterwards.

Those of us who do not have the stomach to visit a Nairobi slum should see Slum Survivors, a new film produced by the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs that shows what abject urban poverty does to people.

Slum-dwellers want to see the change that all politicians are promising because their lives literally depend on it. They want free health and education. They want pedestrian pathways, roads and toilets. More importantly, they want the kinds of jobs and salaries that will allow them to move out of the slum.

THERE ARE NON-GOVERNMENTAL initiatives and individuals that are trying to improve living conditions in slums. But while these efforts must be commended, they are a drop in the vast of ocean of challenges facing the average slum-dweller.

The ultimate responsibility of ensuring that slum-dwellers are not condemned to live like animals lies primarily with central and local governments, who have the kind of resources needed to build schools and hospitals on a large scale, not with individuals or with charities.

Central and local governments have the kind of power and resources that few non-governmental organisations have to make significant improvements in the lives of large numbers of people.

One toilet block may improve the lives of people living in a section of a slum, but real improvement in the lives of slum- dwellers will only occur when governments adopt policies and legislation that enable the poor to improve their livelihoods.

Unfortunately, many governments lack the political will to make this happen. In fact, efforts to improve slums are often hampered by none other than politicians.

Some erroneously believe that significant improvements in the living standards of a huge voting bloc could mean loss of votes in the next election (assuming that happier, better-off people tend not to vote). Others have a vested financial interest in slums — as landlords and political patrons.

Perhaps this is why the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has decided to bypass governments altogether and give direct support to NGOs working with slum communities

Last week, the foundation pledged $10 million to Slum/Shack Dwellers International, an alliance of NGOs that works with slum federations in several countries, including Kenya.

Funds from the grant will be used to support the activities of informal savings groups within slums to improve slum neighbourhoods.

A press release announcing the Gates foundation’s decision aptly states that one of the reasons for this direct support is because “the urban poor are tired of waiting for governments to meet their needs”.

Ms Warah is currently an editor with the UN. The views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

About KochFM

P.O.BOX 44427 00100
Account: (details will be provided at request)

LOCATION: Korogocho Community Centre (Kamunde Rd) Nairobi.


Project Director
Hellen Wanjiku

Assisant Director
Geoffrey Muriithi

Finance Manager
Martin Ndungu

Caroline Wanjiku

TELEPHONE NUMBER: +254721612736


Blub on Koch FM crew

Hellen Wanjiku
Holds a Diploma in Mass Communication, from Magenta Training Institute (Nairobi). She also holds a certificate in community media and photography. In addition the station manager is endowed with enormous skills in filming of documentaries, video editing, photography, script writing and directing. Further, she has exemplary skills including but not limited to community organizing, management and research skills. Noteworthy, the station manager was part of the team that undertook research on LASDAP in Korogocho that was undertaken jointly by Miss Koch Initiative and Institute of Policy Analysis & Research (IPAR). She has also represented KochFM in international forums.

Geoffery Muriithi
Holds a certificate in Community Organizing and he has worked in several organization focusing on addressing the plight of children, he brings to Koch FM his invaluable experience.

Caroline Wanjiru is a graduate of Magenta Training Institute and holds a Diploma in Mass Communication. She is well rounded with media and people skills.

Martin Ndungu
Is an aspiring accountant and Koch FM provides him with an opportunity to learn how to handle finances while he undertakes to study to become a proffessional accountant.

The management is supported by a team of creative and talented youth who bring life to the radio from the crack of dawn to….

The objectives of Koch FM include:
1. Establishing and enhancing a community-led information process within Korogocho and the environs.
2. Amplify the voices of people who are traditionally marginalized and neglected by the mainstream.
3. Help the citizens in the urban slums to have access to information before, during and post election.
4. Provide a plaform for the community to hear and air their views.

KochFM needs
• Training in radio management and other essential issues on radio.
• Training in editing and programme development.
• Training on leadership and management
• Develop publicity materials on elections citizens’ participation and other thematic issues.
• Hold public forums and civic awareness programmes
• Support for performing artists
• News programmes.
• Artisits providing their performance for broadcasting
• Station sponsors for specific programs

Koch FM has become a powerful tool for educating, entertaining and amplifying the voices of people who were traditionally quite marginalized and neglected. In this respect, the radio creates an opportunity for the citizens to participate more meaningfully in governance issues. No doubt, people's participation in governance will create a conducive environment for better management of the available resources.

Koch FM continues to see participation as an ongoing process beyond voting/elections.

Beyond governance issues KochFM creates an opportunity for the community to engage in dialogue and create deeper understanding of things happening in and out of Korogocho. Koch FM looks keenly at environmental, gender, social and other issues that are of concern to the community

The station also works closely with local performing artists by broadcasting their items and holding outdoor live perfomance.

Koch FM broadcasts at a radius of 2km on the frequency of 99.9. And has a target audience of about 500,000 people in Nairobi Kenya.

Koch FM stands to

Promote and safeguard the Freedom of people's choices for expressing their ideas and views.
Providing access to airplay for underground recording artistes.

Koch FM is the first ghetto radio in Kenya started in the year 2006 by a group of vibrant young men and women from Korogocho. It is situated at the Korogocho Community Centre in Nairobi, Kenya..

Koch FM will partner with other likeminded groups and organizations locally and internationally to continue advocating for the rights of people living in the informal settlements (slums).

Talk to us we are listening.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Koch awareness day in Austin Texas

For all the people in America who have been asking on how to support KochFM and the other projects in Koch. Erika in Austin is in the process of setting up an evening where people can have a chat and talk about Koch in the context of the continued reselience.

You can get in touch with Erika Gonzales on P.O.BOX 6237, Austin Texas 78762.

Shiko the managing editor of KochFM will be posting details shortly on other ways of supporting KochFM. Please email shiko on


Monday, November 19, 2007

One Day-film

Richard and Inger-Lill have directed a short film - One Day. It is a clever film, through editing and sound design they have been able to make still photographs talk! It is a very efficient way of making a film.

One Day is the story of Munene 14 year old boy who lives with his family in Korogocho. He was adopted a tender age ..(not to give so much away) you have to see the film to know why we were so excited as we watched the preview here in Perth.

The film should be available for distribution soon. Richard will keep us posted about that.

Well done Richard and Il, and Munene and the family are just awesome.


Koch FM on PBS America

I have recieved alot of emails from people in America who watched KochFM on PBS program NOW. They were all full of praise for the work that we are doing all are eager to partner with us.

We would like to thank Dan Logan the producer of the show, people at PBS and the KochFM crew who made it happen.

I am in the process of curating a Korogocho Memory project that will showcase Koch as told through the media, hopefully it will culminate in a festival at the end of next year. The collection will have newpaper articles, books films, radio and Television programs, videos and photo exhibitions. It will provide an opportunity for us to reflect about what has been said and seen about Koch.

So if anyone has a collection let me know how to get a copy. email



Miss Koch Dinner a hit

More than 200 people attend the annual Miss Koch dinner at the Grand Regency hotel, on the 17th November. The music and the food was superb.Once again we demonstrated that even within Nairobi we have alot of people who stand for the ideals that we stand for, and that they are willing to pay for it. The dinner has moved Miss Koch from solely being a reciever of charity to a provider of services. The dinner showcased some of the very best entertainers from Koch. Well established entertainers were not left out and they gave their all.

We would like to thank all those who came for the event, and a big thanks to the people of Koch for once again stepping into the space and providing the Nairobi scene with something different.


Friday, November 2, 2007

Election Buzz words

It never ceases to amaze me how creative and innovative politicians can get when we have an impending election. There is the obvious distortion of words, the rendering of words to mean something else. It is like suddenly we have a new language. Growing faster than sheng and only the political savyy can understand what is being said.

Every single presidential aspirant is promising development. Forget the fact that none of them are giving specifics. We have been told about devolved governments bringing development to us. Despite the fact that CDF a distant cousin of devolution has created more gaps than it has solved. The incumbent claims that he has delivered the 500,000 job opportunity to the youths! In Koch I am not aware of 100 young people who have got jobs in the last 5 years.

To be able to move foward our country must move from politics of observation, from politics of upmanship and word bandying to critically looking at what the aspirants are saying. We are still leavin at an era where the politicians talk to us, the platform is so skewed that there is no opportunity to have a genuine dialogue with the leaders. They are arriving in big motorcades, on a break neck speed with enough time to chant slogans ready to move to the next stop.

How can we progess politically if all we hear are statements not backed by facts, or by rigorous study. What would happen to the proponents of devolution if after winning they realize that the economy as it is cannot support the structures that are needed to run a devolved government? What happens to the incumbent if they win and still realize that job creation is not a function of the government but is dictated by economic factors some beyond the control of the government?

Or are we looking for the best debator at the expense of the shrewd implementor. From where I stand I feel let down by both the oppossition and the government that has gone head on to polirize the politics. I feel dismayed by the citizen as well for their zeal to be part of the spectacle.

Ofcourse we have made such significant progress and come 27th November we shall determine who we give the mandate.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Kochfm to broadcast in Australia

I was invited last night to a talk show at RTR fm an alternative radio station here in Perth. We talked about the work that is happening in Koch and the way things are chaning for the better. After the show, the host of the Morning Magazine session requested if they could broadcast some of the programs from KochFM! That was very amazing and am looking foward to a day when I will be walking or driving in the streets of Perth here in Australia and listening to familiar voices and familiar music. With this partenrship we will be able to connect with the Kenyan's in the diaspora.

Initially the thought of broadcasting through KochFM was to reach to the immediate population of Korogocho in Nairobi Kenya, but events are now proving that we need to share our stories far and wide, and the ingenuity is that we do not need to change the content. Ithink we are approaching a period of renaissance, we must take the leap.

Good to know that Audhild landed safe and sound in Koch and that she will give some hands on training to the KochFM crew..

All the best.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Audhild from RadiOracle is visiting KochFM

yesterday Audhild from radiOracle landed at JKA, she was met by "a whole bunch of people", according to an sms i got this morning. She is attending a conference, and at the same time she will spend 8 days at KochFM. She is planning to throw a radioshow-hands-on-workshop during her stay. I hope everything is fine in Koch, lookin forward to hearing from the workshop!

Monday, August 13, 2007

looming elections

As the Nation gears for an election at the end of the year already there is considerable alignment and re-alignment.

At the national level its fascinating to see the divisions at ODM becomming bigger and bigger, and the illusion that ODM is to have one presidential aspirant is becomming as remote as ever.

But one should not underestimate the political genius that our politicians have, they have become adept at juggling their careers that I will not be suprised if in the next few months we see major alliances forming. What Kenyan plotics have proved is that there is no diffrence in ideologies and if your opponent has the numbers then the wisest thing is to join camps and have the winning team. That was the case of the Rainbow colaition atleast from my understanding.

Politics at local level are even more fascinating what with the massive civic education that was conducted in the run-up to 2002 and subsequent ones(govt funded) for that matter, so that we are increasingly having more and more people and particularly young people willing to offer themselves as candidates.

That by itself is progess but I think it's time for a reality check, if the pro-active people in Korogocho have more than 5 young people vying for the councillors seat, what chances do we have collectively? Are we not creating a scenario similar to the 1992/1997 where collectively the opposition won and yet KANU was able to stay in power?

What is needed at the momment is greater clarity, greater strategy where we can have one young person vying and the rest of us offering support. It might appear undemocratic, un progressive but the writting is on the wall, we either have one candidate or the incummmbent walks away smilling with a minority win.

Farewell to political activism: Reflections from South Africa

Mukoma Wa Ngugi (2007-08-01)
Mukoma Wa Ngugi, reflects on the third international Toward an Africa Without Borders Conference and concludes that political activists 'must invest time and energy in developing a Pan-Africanism from below'.

We either value African life, understand a black life as equal to a white life, and the poor as equally deserving as the wealthy – or we do not. This reformulation of Frantz Fanon’s 'a given society is either racist or not'; or better yet of Malcolm X’s 'If you stick a knife nine inches into my back and pull it out three inches, that is not progress' are reminders that there are no fractions when it comes to human dignities and freedoms. They either exist in full or they do not. Africans, however, have been prescribed quarter-doses of health and education, one-sixteenth dignities, and piece-meal freedoms for so long that what would not be acceptable elsewhere is welcomed in Africa.

These were my thoughts recently as I travelled back from Durban, South Africa, where I spent the last two weeks of June and the first week of July as one of the organisers of the third international Toward an Africa Without Borders Conference.

This simple recognition, that we either value Africans or we do not, was fuelled by one more frightening thought. The kind of activism that we, the political activists, have been doing is not enough. It can never be enough. Problems facing the African continent, from slavery through colonialism, neocolonialism, and now the hurricane of globalisation that opens up African markets, leaving more poverty in its wake, have never been fully addressed.

Slavery was abolished and the millions who died were swept under the rugs of progress. When colonialism ended, true independence was bargained away at the Lancaster and Paris tables, colonial history and its dead blown away by the 'winds of change'. In the 1970s and 1980s we struggled against neocolonialism; but against our dying and the dead we have globalisation which has swept the idea of social justice under the carpet of a democracy without content.

At what point in history do we simply say what we are doing is not enough? Not because the path we have chosen is bad, or entirely wrong-headed. But simply because the problem is clearly much bigger than the solution we are struggling for? And if we keep doing the same things but expecting different results, aren’t we just a little bit mad?

Whether we are conservatives, World Bank officials, NGO activists, philanthropists, political and scholar-activists, the whole lot of us, we all share the same statistics. We find them indicating that in Africa infant mortality is on the rise (the only place in the world where such indicators are actually worsening). We find that millions are projected to die from Aids and the poverty that feeds the fury of treatable diseases like Malaria and TB. We look at the statistics that find African economies counting foreign aid as part of the national budget; that indicate Africa loses more money through unfair trade than it gets in foreign aid. We find indicators of the extent of environmental degradation, and the human misery caused through exploitation of resources such as oil in places like the Niger Delta. We look at statistics which, like bread crumbs, can be followed back to days of slavery; that show present day exploitation of resources and a rather bleak future if things continue as they are.

Yet, in the face of these enormous problems, based on our ideological professions, we proscribe solutions that have one thing in common – inadequacy. Conservatives launch an anti-corruption campaign, and prescribe more foreign aid, but to accountable governments. World Bank officials call for the opening of markets and transparency. Philanthropists set up more save-the-African-child foundations. NGO activists call for strategic donations and fairer US intervention. Political and scholar activists have their international conferences and alternative world summits only to pass resolutions calling for better representation of Africa in international media. In the meantime, in a most myopic move, African leaders at the helm of this sinking ship gather in Accra to call for a United Africa to be led by one president and a 2,000,000 strong army.

In a word, our various remedies have long been outstripped by the maladies. Cynicism is not mine alone here. Nelson Mandela, the face of the anti-apartheid struggle, started in 2003 a joint foundation with the apartheid/colonialism crusader Cecil Rhodes’ Trust. The Mandela-Rhodes Foundation, the website declares, seeks 'to build exceptional leadership capacity in Africa'. What could be more cynical? Who is fooling who here? In another context, this would be unbelievable: we could never imagine Jewish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel starting a Wiesel-Himmler Foundation, for example – but somehow in Africa we are willing to suspend our disbelief. With all due respect - is this madness? Have we become this cynical, or are we suffering from collective schizophrenia that allows us launder history through foundations and other self-help projects?

We are in a peculiar position of being behind history. We misread the present. And for it, the future is not ours. Each day unveils what the future will hold – the US Africa Command Centre, wars on terror that, like globalisation, have no boundaries, and an African leadership whose best foot is Mbeki’s embrace of international capital at the expense of the majority of South Africans. We must stop sending one another congratulatory notes after each successful rock concert, international conference, or summit.

These were my thoughts as I stood in the middle of Inanda Township in Durban, as I walked through settlements demolished under the watchful eye of the ANC government. Near a chemical plant, children tickled by our presence broke into giggles; but my laughter died where their feet were discoloured by walking barefoot in chemical soaked homes and playgrounds.

I could trace these thoughts to 2004 in Kenya’s Dandora slums. Sitting under a tree with writer Binyavanga Wainaina, my brothers and sisters, and members of the Kalamashaka Hip Hop band, we could hear random gunshots announcing random deaths a few miles away. Later that evening we left the slum for Runda Estate, one of the richest estates in Nairobi, to visit a progressive Kenyan politician, where we were served food by maids and cooks dressed in snappy white checkered uniforms. Then it occurred to me that our political leadership really do not see the people in Dandora, Mathare or Kangemi slums as having lives with value.

The anger and the most basic humanism that moved the revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries are gone. They have been replaced by 'progressive' politics laced with contempt for the poor; as if history did not happen; as if – here comes another statistic - the 380,000,000 Africans living in dire poverty are stubbornly refusing to take advantage of the all-you-can-eat democracy buffet. These politicians do not have the political imagination or the will to deal with the devastation of extreme poverty and the historical legacies of colonialism.

But in 2004 it had not occurred to me that even we, the political activists, had lost that imagination, if not the will. We too were speaking the same language as the politician. Realising earlier this month that African life lacked as much value in South Africa as in Kenya, that there was nothing more Pan-African than shared poverty, and the many of ways of dying, that Aids is as much a Pan-African issue as African culture, I had to admit that my way of doing things has been wholly inadequate. Not because I was waiting for a magic wand that can be waved (it is locked away in coffers of the global rich in the little drawer titled stop living at the expense of others); rather, my activism was miles away from comprehending, let alone squarely addressing, problems that were multi-generational, sanctioned by history, and local and international at the same time.

Understanding the problem, history not withstanding, lies in comprehending when and why the revolutionary became a political activist. The activist, as I understand it, was born in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the revolutionary died. Revolutions under the banner of Marxism had degenerated to coups and counter-coups which produced paranoid movements and dictators. By the early 1990s, even the thin banner of Marxism was no longer being hoisted. It was war for power, one group against the other for the state house. Communism in the East collapsed; and with the chaos and deaths that followed, it was no longer fashionable to talk about the masses, classes and revolution.

But movements of trickle-down economics and welfare also produced the same results – war for profit, coups and counter-coups, paranoid dictators. Only the left took the blame. So when Margaret Thatcher declared that there was no alternative to capitalism, not only did the conservative, liberal and radical politicians believe her, but so did the would-be revolutionaries who, looking to the East, only saw chaos and turmoil.

Political activism as the mainstay of change rose out of the ashes of revolutionary activism. And imbedded in the idea of political activism is the belief that there are no other alternatives. Herein is the paradox: we, the political activists work within a closed system of no alternatives even when we think we do not. Anti-globalisation will not make a dent on globalisation; and anti-capitalism cannot counter movement of massive international capital. We simply have to break way from this closed system; offer, and fight for other alternatives.

If we are to stare boldly at the problems facing the African continent, we must dare to say that there are alternatives not only to how societies are arranged but to how we can bring about those changes. We must return to these two twin aspects of change: the boldness of revolutionary thinking and dreaming and the boldness of action. People power movements in Latin America, exemplified by Chavez, are one alternative. We must speak about their potential as well as their limitations. We cannot turn our back on what is happening in Latin America. It is our duty to keep Cuba alive, that star the United States has been trying to dull, so that it remains an example of what is possible. But if we see potential in Latin America, we must use it to jump-start our own ideas and approaches to change, not as a template to be blindly copied.

In Africa we must invest time and energy in developing a Pan-Africanism from below, one that recognises we are not uniting governments but the people; one which is revolutionary, in that it will unite the people as it frees them from local and international exploitation; that sees the emancipation of women as an integral part of its vocation, and has the content of social and economic justice. The only way to make sure of this, contrary to the July African Union meeting in Accra, is by a people’s mandate.

Pan-Africanism cannot be a lofty idea that comes from an enlightened leadership. The days of the missionary, the small glorious band of men, the talented tenth, the revolutionary van-guard are gone. Pan-Africanism will have to travel through the same borders as refugees, breaking down barriers and borders along the way. It has to travel through African languages, dynamic cultures, and the shared politics of anti-colonial struggles (after all, anti-apartheid was a pan-African struggle), and resistance in this day of globalisation. Only then shall Africans become visible to each other. And it is only when Africans are visible to each other that African solutions become possible.

There are collective questions that cannot be answered by one person in the same way a solution cannot be an individual affair. And what do the African people want? What would the economy of a united Africa look like? What kind of political systems would we create? What kind of culture would pan-Africanist frameworks produce? What kind of social-gender relations should the Africa of the future embrace? What would a borderless Africa look like? In trying to answer these questions from our various locations, we will be creating the much needed alternatives – and implementing them.

Political activism would not dream of changing governments or unifying African people. Revolutionary thinking that is cognisant of the world as it stands will. In this 21st century of a thousand changes: we are either revolutionary, or we are not.

* Mukoma Wa Ngugi is the author of Conversing with Africa: Politics of Change (Kimaathi Publishers, 2002), the collection of poetry Hurling Words at Consciousness (Africa World Press, 2006), and editor of the forthcoming New Kenyan Fiction (Ishmael Reed Publications, 2008).

* Please send comments to or comment online at

KENYA: Inspiring young people in slums

Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN

Willis “Booster” Mbatia, 27, who hopes to become a councillor in Mathare
NAIROBI, 23 July 2007 (IRIN) - Kenya's general elections in December hold special promise for Willis "Booster" Mbatia, a resident of the sprawling Mathare slums, one of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi.

Mbatia, 27, hopes to be one of the local councillors: "It is about time the youth, especially those in the slums, had one of their own in a position of leadership.

"I have successfully been a head boy and a youth leader. I do not see why I cannot represent the rights of the youth as a councillor," Mbatia, a primary-school graduate, told IRIN.

“I would address the issues of insecurity, access to healthcare and a clean environment, ethnic division, and the lack of education opportunities because most of the crime is due to this,” he said. “I would also ensure that the beneficiaries of bursaries are the genuinely needy, not those related to the leaders," he said.

"My lack of higher education does not discourage me from vying for political office," he said. "There are many professors in Kenya, but the country is still not developing as it should."

With most youth in the slums often lacking the opportunities for a good education and training, programmes run by or targeting young people are filling an important gap - providing skills and hope.

Vocational training

Mbati, a freelance estate agent, has been a leader of various youth groups in the slums. "When the people have a problem, they send me to talk to the local councillor," he said. "I owe my leadership skills to having joined the Mathare Youth Sports Association [MYSA] instead of being idle at home."

Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN

Mathare Valley slum in Nairobi, one of the biggest slums in Africa
MYSA, created in 1987, has 17,000 members from 16 slum areas in Nairobi who are involved in its various programmes, including vocational training, environment clean-up campaigns and awareness-raising of children's rights, HIV/AIDS and reproductive health.

"I joined MYSA after completing primary school," said Mbatia. "I was the coach of the under-12 and under-18 football teams. We were also trained in socialisation and leadership skills.

"As an individual youth in the slums, it is hard to get recognition for your efforts but being in a group provides more opportunities to improve one's life," he said.

He said most youngsters who joined the association with him now had jobs or were playing professional football.

According to John Ndichu Ng'ethe, a former chairman of MYSA, direct involvement of the youth in the programmes either as peer counsellors or participants gave them a sense of ownership over the projects.

"Engaging the youth in such activities gives them hope," Ng'ethe said. "The youth are empowered with decision-making skills."

Facing discrimination

Sarah Odeke, one of the beneficiaries of such a youth initiative, said the youth in the slums would have an even greater chance of success if they faced less discrimination.

"If you are a youth from the slums you are either viewed as a prostitute if you are female, or a thief if you are male," Odeke said. "It is about time people put an end to this stereotyping."

"Discrimination against people from the slums should stop. We are like everyone else only that we do not have similar opportunities," she added.

Odeke, who is a member of a women’s football team, has also benefited from training on HIV/AIDS behaviour change.

Her friends, however, have not been as lucky: "Most of my friends in the ghetto are dying of HIV/AIDS or are on their way towards being infected by engaging in prostitution," she said, "Others have gone abroad with tourists for the same thing."

A community-based organisation sponsored Odeke's secondary education. "I am viewed as a role model by the other children in the slums," she said, "I feel honoured. My mother, who is jobless, is also very proud of me and I am glad I am able to help my family with the money I make," she said.

In addition to a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working with the youth, the Mathare valley slum has four youth groups involved in HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns, environmental hygiene, education, children's rights, and drug-abuse awareness that use video, theatre, music and photography to convey the message.

People power on the airwaves

Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN

Martin Ndungu (right), the financial manager of KOCH Radio, and Abdi Hussein, the deputy human resource manager, hosting “Wasanii Panel”, in Korogocho, Nairobi
In the neighbouring Korogocho informal settlement, 10 youngsters established a community radio station known as Koch FM in 2006 to enlighten slum dwellers on how they could improve their lot.

The radio station, whose motto is ‘Educating through Entertainment’, is run by 23 volunteers who produce programmes showcasing youth talent on governance, gender and children’s issues.

According to Martin Ndungu, the financial manager of the station, who also doubles as presenter of a popular show, "Wasanii [artists’] Panel", people in the slums are often ignorant of issues of importance to them.

"For example, they are not aware that the national budget also affects them directly," Ndungu said. "There is a need to break the ignorance."

Koch FM, which broadcasts to an audience within a 2km radius, reaches at least 200,000 people in Korogocho and neighbouring areas.

Some local leaders were against the idea and its founders had to lobby for support from the provincial administration. Others wanted the radio to promote their personal interests, according to Ndungu.

To raise funds he sells souvenir T-shirts and greeting cards. "We are able to pay for electricity and maintain a stand-by generator," he said.

"It is sad to see most of our friends using drugs when one can see their immense potential," he said. "We need to reach them with a message of hope. We are also looking for support so that the community radio project can become more sustainable," he said. "We do not want our dream to die with us."

Mbatia said young people from the slums who had succeeded in various fields served as an inspiration to others.

"There is a wealth of talent in the slums but leaders have failed us. Funds allocated to benefit the youth do not easily trickle down to the slum youth who need them most," he said.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

peter in HongKong

Peter represented Pendo Theatre at the just concluded IDEA conference in Hong Kong.
The response he got from his presentation was overwhelming and he was able to show how the youths of Korogocho are using theatre for transformation.
He was also able to learn from other leading theatre artists and activists who were present during the conference.
Peter was able to forge links with artist from notably Tanzania and Germany.

At the conference Peter also had the opportunity to meet with Profesor Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Kenyas leading literature guru and he got alot of insights from that encounter.

Peter left Hong Kong a happy man having played the historic role of representing us and thanks to everyone who made it possible. special thanks to Jaime and Fish from RRAF Australia who made Peter's stay in HongKong more intresting.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Invitation to HongKong

Pendo Theatre a a group of youths from Korogocho has been invited to participate at the International IDEAS conference in HongKong during the month of July 2007.

That is yet another milestone and an indication of the efforts that the people of Korogocho are putting both at the local and at the internationa level.

At the International IDEAS conference 2007 Pendo Theatre has the opportunity to discuss with the participants Participatory Education Theatre that has worked considerably well in Korogocho in exploring and enhancing dialogue amongst community members who would otherwise not engage in mainstream forums.

The strength of Participatory Education Theatre as practiced in Koch draws from past experience by guru's like Agusto Boal who was able to contribute immensly to policy issues in debates in Brazil using communty theatre.

Pendo is on the track and in collaboration and with partnerships with other people from the world the feauture is bright.

Reach for further debate on theatre as a tool for education in informal settllement.


KochFm we hold the mirror

For a long time people have considered journalism to be like a mirror that reflects things that are happening, what has not been acknowledged though was that the person holding the mirror influenced the reflection that was seen, and so for a long time the people of Korogocho and indeed people from the informal settlements excluded/minorities have had to bear the burden of watching a reflection from a distorted vantage point.

It's like looking at your face on a mirror only to see the reflection of your foot as good or bizare as that might be there is a sense of misrepresentation, there is a sense of momentary disorientation and bewilderment.

So the opportunity that KochFm brings to us today is tenfold, we will be able to see the whole of who we are, we will be able to highlight and abitrate issues for we will have the means.

The way I see our family, our school, our shops, our roads so different to someone who is visiting for a few days, being residents of Koch we are aware of the seasons we are aware of some of the dynamics within the community and it is that knowledge that we want to use to drive KochFm and indeed the initiatives of the people of Korogocho and other informal settlements.

And so as we journey in the new direction of creating a space for public dialogue we know our goal, we know our desires, we come with a bias, we come with an agenda, an agenda to harness the community efforts, an opportunity to biuld a stronger and vibrant community.

We are united by the universal committement to a just world.


Sunday, June 3, 2007

Roba of Kalamashaka in Oslo, Norway

Our KochFM-brother, Roba arrived in Oslo May 25th, and left today (June 3rd) after 10 hectic days in Oslo. Roba hooked up with a lot of Kenyans staying in Norway and also alot of rappers and producers, and he has been buzy recording new classics in a studio, doing radio interviews and concerts. Wish he could have stayed far longer he didn´t get to see town much and we got too little time to hang out, but last night we were partying until 5:30 am, so we had some fun after a legendary K-shaka concert at Fabrikken. K-shaka brother Jivinji was also in Oslo keeping the fire burning...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

koch documentary in the Making

Hi am delighted to let you know that we have been working on the doco that we shot in Koch in mid January and you can see the video trailer on

We are hoping that the final doco will be 50minutes long exploring issues from young peoples perspective, at the momment am chasing footage from the mainstream medei to biuld the context.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

radio donations!

Yes good people, we finally recieved the radio donations from Free Play foundation!

And with the characteristic zeal of the team 20 pieces were distributed immediately to the community-shopkeepers, barbershops and schools to enlsit more listners.

The radios are so cool they do not even use batteries you just wind them and tune in to KochfM. The reminder of the radios will be given out to listners of other programmes, the team is designing games where listners will call in and win the radios.

We want to thank the Free Play Foundation for its generosity and their fighting spirit:the radios were stuck at customs in Mombassa for ages and alot of paperwork, advocacy and determination was the what made the governement release the radio's. Leaves me wondering who sets customs priorities, that makes it easier for the big fish to import their goods while goods destained for communities are neglected.

So thumbs up for the Free Play Foundation for sticking to the game.

The radio's will go along way in strengthening KochfM audince.



Go Girl

Hi, Shiko,

Great to see you on the snow in Norway, does it sting like the dust in Koch?

Hey you are doing great stuff biulding the reputation of KochfM and the people of Koch and utltimately young people from disadvantaged and mirginalised communities all over the world.

The new world as I see it will be run by people who have traditionally and historically been left out of the decision making, and what we are creating in Korogocho through the radio station and other initiatives is the platform for that to happen.

Am pleased to hear how well you articulate the challenges faced by women in Koch and it tears my heart to pieces to hear how part of men in these civilization have chose to take negative aspects on our culture to dominite and subjugate women. If you look at it keenly you will realise that the said men are not aware of what culture says in terms of confilct and how punitive action should be taken if any...So while we deal with young people we must endevour to learn all the best cultural practices and shun all retrogressive aspects to it.

As a woman you are best placed to articulate the issues of women in Koch and indeed the world, its such passion that has propelled the world foward.

Was looking recently at an exhibition of moments in humanity and the have a pciture of a young girl partly burnt by Napalm bomb in Vietnam running down a road, today the woman is a goodwill ambassodor for peace at the UN, her experience places her at the heighest pedestal to campaign for peace, when Mandela speaks of reconciliation people listen beacuse he spent half his adult years behind the bars: Most people would have been consumed with thoughts of revenge and getting even with their captors, but no he embraced them and stemmed the wave of a backlash that would have tipped South Africa into a civil war-white against blacks or poor versus rich!

So in that long standing tradition I want to say that the whole world is litening and watching you, lead them to action, action to stop the senseless poverty that the peole in the slums have to endure each waking day.

Its the call of the century.



Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Two more interviews

Shiko has been all over Norway, and everybody wants a piece of her. As she was passing trough Trondheim last week she was interviewed by a local radio-station named Radio Adressa. Here you can hear this interview. (It´s introduced in Norwegian, but the rest is in English):

She also visited the Norwegian Broadcast Corporations radio-studios in Trondheim, where she was interviewed in a program called "Osenbanden". Osenbanden has interviewed me (Richard) half a year ago, and when Shiko was on her way, they were eager to interview her as well. The guys at Osenbanden are really supportive to our project and therefore curious to meet Shiko. Here it is as well:

Monday, March 12, 2007

Shiko and host at RadiOracle

This is a picture inside the studio at radiOracle. Jathusiga Raja is the host, in the background you can see the engineer trough the window too.

Shiko at RadiOracle pix

From the left it´s Audhild, Mona and Shiko at RadiOrakel in the attic of the Blitz youth-house in Oslo. We are hoping to send Mona and Audhild to do some workshop-training in Koch. These guys are really experienced when it comes to radio and training. They have been working in many African countries. Mona works as a teacher at Sogn mediaschool in Oslo and Audhild works as a soundengineer at Sun Studios in Oslo, dubbing Cartoons.

Radiostation donates audio-maximizer

Shiko is a guest at a radiostation (I didn´t get the name) and the station wanted to donate a audio-maximizer to KochFM. This is a machne that maximizes the sound out of our mixer so that the transmitter gets as hot signal as possible. We hope we will get some technical personel to install it as soon as she comes with it. Am in Norway, so it´s a bit far...

Shiko interviewed at radiOracle in Oslo March 8th 2007

Finally I managed to stream the interview with Shiko from womens day at radiOracle in Oslo.

Shiko in the snow

I was trying to put this out the right way, but it wouldn+t work, so I had to put it out the wrong way around. I guess you like it anyway. This is a picture of Shiko and her travelling-mate, Mohammoud. When I took them to the snow in Oslo their first day in Norway.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Shiko is in Norway!

Shiko landed safely in Norway yesterday after an exhausting trip with hold-up in security at Skiphol due to passport-trouble (ink running from the picture, cause of bad print and moist) - strange thing is, she´s got the norwegian visa, you can´t fake that, but she was hold up for 2 hours and almost missed her flight. But anyway. Yesterday we had a joyful reunion in the hotel-reception and then we went off. I wanted to show her everything at once, so we started with a brief introduction to snow. We went by car 20 minutes away from the Oslo City-centre, up to Holmenkollen, a huge skiing area, with a ski-jump and lots of snow. Where you can see Oslo "from above", if it wasn´t for the fog, though. She got a quick brief in how to make snowballs and how to start making a snowman. Then we went to the Norwegian film studios, where we attended some shooting of the famous norwegian director Bent Hamers latest movie. Then we went to the Norwegian Film postproduction-facility, where I tried my best to explain what I´m working with from hand made sound-effects to the huge mixing-theatre. Shiko also got to say hi to some of my friends there, among them also, Stig Holte, who donated a secondhand Mac G3 Powerbook to KochFM just after christmas. In the evening we had a nice dinner with friends at "Kampen Bistro", where finally Shiko allmost fell asleep at the table, she was so exhausted after a buzy day.

Today Shiko went to a photo-school, in which she has alot of friends, ´cause she and Carol attended a workshop with them in Kenya this autumn.

Tomorrow Shiko will be holding a presentation of KochFM at the NCA-offices in Oslo, in the evening, she will be interviewed at RadiOracle FM99.3 in Oslo (between 4 and 5pm).

Friday me and Inger-Lill will be holding a small get-together for Shikos friends in our apartment in Oslo before she continues her trip around Norway on saturday. She will be traveling a lot and learning a lot to bring back to Koch, hopefully for the empowerment of Korogocho. And we are working hard to get her up on some of the big media-channels...

Shiko could tell me that everything is fine in Koch. KochFM is transmitting everyday and all the radios around is tuned to KochFM-99.9. Also the local citizens drop by in the morning to give hints of todays discussion-topics. They also buy all the different newspapers everyday to keep Korogocho updated on everyday life in the world and the nation of Kenya. Hopefully someone will start blogging from Nairobi soon, but for now, there is no internet connection in Koch. Those who read this and want to help, can contact us at, we need all the help we can get to continue our struggle.

If you´re not speaking norwegian you won´t understand this, but it´s fun to watch anyway:

Thursday, February 8, 2007

RRaFT in Koch

Media Release
15 January 2007

Media contact:
Daniel Narbett
RRaFT Educators
Telephone: (08) 9336 3438
Mobile: 0421 063 266

A night behind bars

The start of a collaboration of Fremantle and Koch (Nairobi) artist started on a high note when 15 of them were arrested and held for more than 11 hours in a Nairobi police station. The arrests were a clear demonstration of the impunity with which the Kenya police force operate with and the rampant human rights violations that the people of Koch and in deed the Kenyan community have to deal with. The police were heard beating accused persons a tendency that was also found amongst the inmates.

Jaime Yallup, Paul Roe and Ben Wandei of RraFT were in one of Nairobi’s largest slum areas, Korogocho (Koch), collaborating with local organisations Pendo Theatre, Miss Koch and Koch FM to attend the World Social Forum and also support community action through street theatre.

With hindsight the night behind bars served to deepen the discussions and engagements as the team prepared the theatre production that captured the realities of life in a slum from the youth’s perspective. The performance at the World Social Forum struck with resonance to the audience: one young lady had been asked for sexual favours by her bosses to maintain her position she declined the offer lost her job but got another. Attesting to the fact the abuse and harassment can be fought through resistance.

The RRaFT crew are bringing back with them a life time experience choosing to reside in the slum with the people sharing all the facets of life, from catching a matatu(bus) to town, eating ugali, chapati and madodo(maize, flour meal and beans), wash in the public showers. The children were the most amazing with choruses of “How are you” or “Mzungu”, which made the team at home. Every where there were children playing with soil or self made toys quipped Jaime the director RRaFT.

The workshops, the performances and the community visits were filmed and will be a basis for a documentary film celebrating youth resilience in Koch to be released in July.

Within an environment of inadequate and inaccessible health facilities, high levels of illiteracy, unemployment and an unprecedented crime rate, these Koch organisations have created powerful programmes that have effectively improved the lives of many of the inhabitants of Koch. And RRaFT was there to learn from the people who are turning the tide of things around tapping into the wealth and energy of the youth churning out innovative community development processes.

kochfM on air

Hey good people after the long political technical battles finally KochfM is on air thanks to the timley collaboration of IndyMedia.

Its a dream come true and now we must stay focused on winning the people with truth, the level of experience and enthusiasm amongs the team members will ensure that we are on air and we continue to attract an audience and sponsors.

Sponors will play a critical role in keeping the station on air though they will not be allowed to dictate content particulalry in areas where the community will be disadvantaged unfairly.

We are also recieiving 100 lifeline radios from the free play foundation that will be used to form listner groups for specific programmes.

We are still on the look out for more publicity items and merchandise that KochfM can use to maintain visibility while generating an income...

Keep it radical


Monday, February 5, 2007

taking over

Another world is possible, is the theme that run through the world social forum in Kenya last week..And behold the numer of people who joined in the forum.

It was so beautiful to see all those good meaning and committed people walking in Nairobi, taking matatus, buying and having conversations with participants and Kenyans.

Kenyans are known for their generosity and as such the occassion served to deepen that bond, for us who chose to stay in Koch the expereince was quite remarkable as choruses of "How are You" followed us from street to street, the children seemed to sum the happiness of the people for seeing two brave mzungu staying in Koch.

Koch as a community has grown over the past years from being one of the most insecure to a point where now its increasingly safere than other parts of Nairobi, and these is due to the combined efforts of the residents who have formed communiyt watch gruops that patrol the area. And so for the two weeks we stayed in Koch we had the greatest sense of security and community.

We were so amazed at the progress that KochFM has made interms of visibility and also creativity, the finishing of the sound studio is the most innovative with the use of egg trys to offer accustic balance, so cheap yet so effective. Again it points us to the reality that communities already have solutions to problems and all we can do as participants from other places it to listen observe and learn, and then share our experiences with them.

So thanks again to KochFM guys for leading the way in innovation am sure other studios will follow the lead.

Its also good to report that we are getting the transmitter from Indipendent media who were present during the WSF and have agreed to install the new transmitter..

Hope we shall be on air soon..



police harassment and youth resistance

Having spent a couple of months in Australia it was a rude shock to see the manner and nature of police conduct in Nairobi during our two week visit. To say they were rude would be an understatement, or even to suggest that they were in efficient would be to give them undeserving credit. The police that night violated our rights and those of other Kenyans who were arrested for being outside at night after 11.00pm, whaterver the pretext, since Nairobi is not under curfew (but it would appear that police patroling in slum areas make it appear so).

Thus as we were having drinks dances and talks our party was interrupted by more than 20 police men did not see any policeowman, brandishing their guns at us and ordering us out to a waiting lorry. Its amazing how arbitrary the police conduct their operations, all tourists were allowed to stay while all the Kenyans were to be arrested. Now thats funny since I was a Kenyan at that momment but also a tourist since I was only visiting for two weeks, but that aside, the police did not seem eager to engage in conversation since we had tried to ask them what they were arresting us for to without any success. So at that point the most important thing was to get ourselves to the police station with the hope that we could have an audince with the officer commanding the police post, experince has showed me that the OCS tends to be more reasonable and less likely to physically assult people unlike the jnr officers who seem to derive pleasure for inflicting pain on others.

In the police car I heard one ridiculous incident that would have made us all laugh but we knew too well that the police could turn that statement in the morning. There was a mother of a 6 year old girl who had been arrested on her way to the shop to get salt and flour to finish cooking her dinner. Her main worry was that her house would probably catch fire or that something could happen to her daughter, she even showed me the things she had just bought.... it was so sad.

Well we finally arrived in the police station and got booked in with drunk and being disorderly, now for the records I do not even drink alchohol so does Njeru or Paul, but that did not matter. The biggest issue at that momment is that we were about to be placed in the same cell with other convicts and we had already witnessed them brutilizing other inmantes, se we hatched a plan to go in a single file and fight if we had to to defend ourselves, our situation was further complicated by the fact that we were in the company of a tourist. So when the door was opened we came in charging and blazing, and paralyzed the system, the bully inmates realized quickly that we were from Koch and that cooled down things abit and after consultations we were allowed to go into the VIP without the ritual of harassment or having to pay the inmates. The ritual consisted of washing the toilet and giving any valuable that one had and finally sleeping in the corridors where people were practically pillled on each other. We got into the VIP and I was seated next to the big bully inmate who alleged that he was in for robbery but since they could not get sufficient evidence to charge him they kept him in the cells(now in the cell there is a tendency for people to make their cases seem more serious than they are, or lessen them, I do not know which he was doing but he had been there quite a number of times and for the past 4months). He seemed to know people from Koch which was good. Once peace was established we settled into the sleepless night which was punctuated with either the police beating people outside the cell or the inmates beating people and bullying them once they got inside.

It was such a waste of time because the next morning part of the group was sent to court and actually charged with being drunk and disorderly and the magistrate finding them giulty based on their plea, others were forced to clean the police compound and the tourists including me were released without even a charge or an explanation. Now am sure one would wonder why the people in court pleaded giulty or why we did not press charges for harrassment and wrongfull arrest. The point is that at achieving human rights is a process and at times you are faced with the dilema of escaping or staying and fighting. If the people in court had denied the charges they would have been remanded for 14days or fined 5000 Kenya Shillings and the case would have taken atleast more than 6months and they would have to appear incourt every 14day.Now thats so much time to demand from activists. while agreeing to being giulty attracted a 1day community service or a fine of 200Kenya shillings...Well its easy to see whats the easiest options.

For us being in the country for two weeks it would have been difficult to institute the charges.. since they would have expected us or our lawyers to be present at the times of the hearings. The best we did is that our collegues reported the violations to the British and Australian embassy, whatever the outcome , we have informed and we shall c arry the story wherever we go to..

Well we left the police station with a sad tatste.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

New pix of KochFM team

KochFM team arrested in Kariobangi, Nairobi

Monday the 15th of January we were all out in Kariobangi having a farewellparty for Inger-Lill and me that were leaving the following morning. I just came back from the washrooms when I could see Toto, Oti, Roba and the rest of my dear friends standing up as if they were frozen. It was quiet, and when i turned my head, I could see we were all surrounded by between 10 and 20 policemen with kalashnikows. Inger-Lill had been ordered "Tourist, sit down", she whispered this to me as I was standing there with my eyes wide open, trying to understand what was happening. We were ordered to proceed to the door, and the owner approached me to pay the bill, so I payed and started walking to the door.

There I tried to talk to one of the policemen who were blocking the door. He seemed friendly, but suddenly some of the other policemen shouted "Out! On one line!" So we had to walk out on one line, where a huge policetruck was parked ready for loading with everybody inside the bar. Inger-Lill tried to talk to another policeman to get an explanation of why we were arrested and the answer she got was "because you are here!". So it seemed that we were not allowed to have a goodbyeparty in Kariobangi on a monday. I tried to explain to one of the guards that we were supposed to catch a plane 10:30 the day after, so if we got arrested, we would not be able to go home. And that we had our vehicle there at the parkinglot. But he didn´t seem to care much, so I asked who´s in charge, and he pointed out this guy without uniform, so I approached him, and I could see the fire in his eyes. I tried to explain to him, but the only thing he did was to shout "In the lorry now!" and he pushed me towards the lorry, so I had to climb in.

As I climbed in people were pushed and they actually fell stubling towards the lorry. A very good example of police brutality in Nairobi. Inger-Lill got some filthy policemanfingers touching her behind and some dirty swahili glossary were exchanged between the policemen. My first thought then was to get Inger-Lill safe inside the lorry, so I tried to reach my hand for helping her in, but someone dragged her back, and ordered me out.

I jumped back out and someone ordered us to get in our car and go. I told one of the policemen there are 2 more tourists inside the lorry, and asked if they could come, so they talked to our australian friends that refused to come. And if it wasen´t for our plane the morning after we would also had joined KochFMs first common arrest to the station to get to experience how this "system" actually treats their people.

Anyway Inger-Lill and I went back to town shivering in anger over how the police can claim to treat people like this. The police is as far as I see it the biggest threat to the security in Nairobi. The Nairobi Police are brutal, corrupt, patheticly powerful, male chauvinist and racist. I´m glad our friends got back home in one piece on tuesday after being humiliated like if they were animals without human rights.

This was a violation against the human rights to a group fighting to gain them in the city of Nairobi. We shall overcome. This is what we are fighting for! Long live KochFM!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Workshop in Koch Saturday, January 13th 2007

This saturday we had visitors in Koch. Gwendolyn Thomkins East African Korrespondent at NPR, National Public Radio in Massachusetts, USA and two more journalists, one of them the EA correspondent of LA times. Also 2 of the celebrity breakfast-show-hosts, Chanice and Fareed of CapitalFM (one of the most proffessional Radiosations in East Africa). A lot of important issues were touched upon by these people, who were brought to Koch by a European health worker that has some projects going in the area.

Gwen had brought her minidisc recorder a mic and showed us some interviewing techniques in a very funny and informative way. She also talked alot about how to be a good storyteller when it comes to work as a radio host. One of her main issues was how to interview people that has experienced something terrible as rape or murder. How you must think as a journalist and how you psychologically must try to put yourself in the same situation, but at the same time remember that you have no reason as such to know how exactly it feels to have had this kind of experience when you are talking as the voice of your listeners.

One of the american journalists had brought the Code of Ethics and talked trough them and gave examples. He also gave the participants some "exercises" by asking what our team would do if a member of a political party would invite a journalist from KochFM to a meeting, and fasilitate snacks and transport. We got some good discussions, and everybody agreed that it would be better to go to the meeting by own means and skip the bribes to have the chance to be a independent voice of the people.

The hosts of CapitalFM got alot of questions regarding if they are nervous before a show, how they prepare, when they start their day at work, how they work together as a team an so on.

this was a very good experience for all the people that attended the workshop! We hope there will be more to come. KochFM is in desperate need of technical experience. If you do this or know someone who knows, please contact us at We are using Adobe Audition for editing and need experienced people to train our staff.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Richard and Inger-Lill back in Koch

Lill and I visited koch again. We are staying in Nairobi from Jan 2nd up to Jan 16th. We have hade a great time with our friends in KochFM and things are really starting to happen. During our stay so far we have been able to contribute some more knowledge and equipment. I brought a wireless sender for internet-signals. with this equipment we hope to be able to get internet to Koch as soon as possible.

We have also brought another computer, a apple g3 laptop contributed from a good friend of mine in Oslo. I have installed various software on this one for soundediting and such things we need for running a radiostation.

As I am writing this we are not yet transmitting due to some technical problems with the transmitter. It seems not to amplify the signal, so we are looking for a new one, which we plan to order on the internet. (

Me and Lill are happy to see that the guys are so buzy! They are preparing different things for the upcoming world social forum. I'm not quite updated on what's happening yet, but one of the slogans are KochFM - Takin' ova! and this is what they are planning to do with the WSF:)

They are making big banners with logos and slogan for adverting along the way between Korogocho and Kasarani, where the WSF is going to take place. This is walking distance from Koch and they are planning to have bands playing at a stage, a big barbeque, cinema, tent-camp for visitors and a band playing following the participants from Koch to Kasarani everyday during the Forum.

When it comes to the studio, it's still in the process of being built. Tom (the carpenter) finished the studiowindow earlier today.

During the weekend we are going to have a workshop in Koch, where we connect the equipment and talk about how to run a radiostation, which is going to be a big issue in KochFM for 2007. Now we need to get in contact with good radio-presenters, editors and engineers to do workshops for us. Please send us tips for this and other stuff to