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A response to ‘Kenya's civil society needs a new vision’

Responding to an article by Zaya Yeebo, Simon Kokoyo writes that ‘the agenda for people-driven change or development in Kenya has always been either hijacked by people with ulterior motives or externally driven.’

Since independence, Kenyans have tried to avoid use of violence as a means of achieving meaningful change.

Progressive Kenyans are used to Civil Society Organisation as an avenue of achieving non-violence way of change. In our situation, the civil society organisations seem to be always on opposing sides with the government and to some extend corporate sector since early 80s and throughout 90s. While ordinary Kenyans appreciated and embraced the new changes as part of life, the civil society staff failed to notice new developments taking place in Kenya and they got stuck in the old ways of doing things. The new change taking place required we start engaging the two bodies (government and corporate sector) if we really mean to establish a meaningful and sustainable change. In Kenya, we also failed to learn from countries such as South Africa and Poland the importance of having strong trade unions.

The civil society organisations have been successful in drawing support of donors as opposed to involving people who are in organised settings such as trade unions, youth and women groups, social movements, manufacturing industries and farmers.

Way forward:
- Civil Society Organisations should strengthen morbid trade unions, youth and women groups, establish strong community social audit teams to respond to the needs and aspirations of Kenyans
- Civil Society Organisations establish better working relationship with government and corporate sector. We could learn from the prisons reforms and establishment HIV/AIDS workplace policy
- Civil Society Organisations establish mechanism of attracting funding locally from either the government or corporate sector. International NGOs also depend on the two for funding.