We wanted to share this video taken in Kenya last week of anti-corruption campaign and ONE advisor John Githongo. I found his words moving, and tried my best to transcribe them below.
“Hi, I’m John Githongo. I’m Chief Executive of Inuka Kenya. Also head of Twaweza Kenya.
When people ask me what we’re doing, at the end of day, I mean there’s lots of stuff we’re doing, but at the end of the day what we’re creating is a social movement of people, especially young people, who believe in the concept of “ni sissy.”
Ni sisi is the Swahili words for “it is us.”
It is us who owns our problems and it is us who will come up with the solutions.
There are many ways of doing that. We have culture platforms. We partner with the private sector. We use media, information technology. There are a whole range of ways this can be applied.
But at the end of the day the critical element is people. That is the most valuable asset that we have in a country like Kenya. Despite the difficulties that we had in 2007 2008 after the elections.
A network that brings people together for themselves to improve their own conditions and their own relationships with each other.
Dignity comes before development — and that’s about relationships.
Therefor you may find a situation where people seem to be poor, who are living under challenging circumstances, but they are comfortable in their own skin.
And it is in that kind of context that development, in the traditional sense, happens most easily.”
More about John Githongo, written by my colleague Morgana, below:
In 2002 the newly appointed President Kibaki appointed John Githongo as Permanent Secretary for Ethics and Governance in the Office of the President, where he was known as the “anti-corruption czar.” Eighteen months after Githongo entered office, he began to discover considerable instances of corruption. As Githongo tried to probe further, government ministers prevented his investigations. Without support from the President and his administration, Githongo resigned from his post in 2005. He then went into self-imposed exile in the UK, without any explanation for his abrupt departure. When he left, he took with him potentially explosive documents that revealed the corruption schemes in the government. Githongo compiled the documents into a dossier which was leaked to the press in early 2006. This dossier contained evidence of a series of government procurement deals with non-existent companies, which effectively robbed Kenya of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Michela Wrong, a British author and former foreign correspondent who housed Githongo during part of his exile, chronicled Githongo’s fight against corruption in her book, It’s Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistleblower. Githongo, who is on ONE’s Advisory Board, has since returned from exile, but travels extensively to continue to monitor, investigate, and spread awareness about government corruption.
Mr. Githongo’s new organization, Inuka (“get up” in Swahili) Trust, aims to recapture the powerful moment of hope felt by all Kenyans in 2003 and convert it into lasting change created by and for Kenyans. Inuka works to affirm individuals as African and global citizens and empower Kenyans to use information, express their views and – importantly – take initiative aimed at improving their lives and holding governments accountable.
On Wednesday, March 17th, Githongo took us to visit Nyawira Kazi — a self-organized local community group of 20 people who have come together to help the vulnerable in their community. Led by charismatic leadership with no external help, Nyawira Kazi finds the gaps that exist in their local community and work towards closing them. Right now this means their focus is on caring for the orphans left behind by the political violence by providing a nursery and feeding program for children who would otherwise go without meals.
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