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a picture of Dandora Courtesy UN Habitat

“It is about getting more jobs for the youth rather than giving them handouts in this bad economy. “

These were the opening remarks of Ken who is a Human Rights defender in Dandora. The 26 year old entrepreneur and event organizer for Dandora Hip hop City has come to understand the importance of empowering the youth through employment.

“Growing up in Dandora, I watched a lot of my friends die in the hands of police and/or criminals” said Ken.This was the turning point for him, he did not want to continue losing his friends all the time. He was pensive as he descried the whole reason why he got into Human Rights Activism.

He had a grim expression on his face narrating how for a young person in Dandora it is hard when you are unemployed with no source of income.”Having people depend on you for survival as a young person can be draining.  Being a bread winner to many in this State of economy where the cost of living is high is tasking.Your parents do not believe you when you are caught in pursuit to look for means of survival, the police think you are  criminal just for being a youth with no source of income, and the society condemns you for just being unemployed ”said Ken.

He describes how it is not a walk in the park  when you are between the ages of 17 and 24. Human rights activism, helping the youth escape being arrested; giving them jobs to help them secure a source of income is what he aims to see in his entire neighborhood.

He further narrates how every time someone asks for twenty shillings or fifty shillings he always makes a point of showing that persona place where he can get more than that. He refers to the story of teaching a person to fish instead of always giving them fish.

“It is very possible to solve the rate of crime in the area. Do not just tell them to submit their guns, tell them here is an opportunity for a job for you to make a honest living for yourself..This is one of the things that the government is currently doing with no understanding that the main issue is high unemployment in this bad economy where many are surviving on one meal per day if they are among the lucky ones. ” Ken narrates with disappointment written all over his face.

He talked about how image also matters and to him once you are arrested everyone’s perception of you changes. It happened to him when he was arrested once while he was heading back home one morning after seeing his mother off to work for no apparent reason. He was assaulted and before he knew it he was at a police station trying to plead with the police to let him go. His sister had to come and “bail” him out.

He maintains that the police will always try to just taint one’s mage if you do not give them a bribe which in most cases the young unemployed people can barely afford.Every time you try to let them know that you know your rights you get yourself into more trouble with them. They will even “plant”evidence to make sure that you have gone to jail to just teach you a lesson.

When I asked him what change he would like to see ,he talked about how important it is to have people  change their perceptions on how they view the youth and give them a chance to do business. Getting the youth employed will help them counter the impact of the high cost of living in our country today.  He narrated.

Ken does events that help creatives; he organizes Sanaa Friday’s which is an event where people come together to express themselves through their various crafts. Though he is not a musician at Dandora Hip Hop City he has joined the Adopt a start up program which helps young people doing business to be able to network and be able to build their business.

Ken has grown into a self made ambitious person and that has enabled him to change the perception of some youths in his neighbourhood by showing them that crime does not pay and that it is important to find other ways of making a living in this tough economy. It is a matter of changing the world one job at a time rather than wait for government hand outs; that is how he wants to make his contribution to society.

Ken hopes that something will be done concerning the high cost of living in Kenya and it’s impact on the youth especially the unemployed youths from the ghettos.


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