Challenging perceptions: Bodaboda are known to be violent and disorganised!

Since 2015, Haki Yetu Organization (Haki Yetu) has been promoting and facilitating the use of the Active Non-Violence (ANV) approach to hold leaders accountable without loss of life and destruction of property. ANV seeks to build friendship and understanding and leads to redemption and reconciliation.

In April 2022, Haki Yetu organization conducted a two-day ANV training for the bodaboda leadership of Nyali Sub-County with the theme #Kataakutumiwa (Swahili for “Refuse to be manipulated”). This was followed by a dialogue between security actors and bodaboda members to overcome common issues and foster mutual understanding which ultimately resulted in local drivers forming a new group called the Kadzandani (a neighbourhood in Nyali) group. This group then conducted community outreaches to make it clear that they are refusing to be manipulated in the future.

They also created a charter outlining how to become a member, the entitlements and the duties of each driver as well as what to do in case the group is approached with business proposals (e.g., advertising for political candidates). The charter lists the terms of any engagement with other parties and mentions that cooperation can only occur on the basis of non-violence and under a clearly defined memorandum of understanding, outlining the terms, duration and remuneration of the partnership. This demonstrates that when given an opportunity and a safe space with mutual respect among the parties, bodaboda can organize themselves and address their challenges.

It was against this background of previous successful collaboration, that the Kadzandani bodaboda leadership requested Haki Yetu to help in conducting mediation in a dispute among themselves. Mediation is a voluntary process in which the parties choose to participate out of their own free will. The Kadzandani leadership understood this and made sincere efforts to reach an agreement while conducting themselves in good faith during the whole process.

After three mediation sessions, all parties agreed that the main issues of the group were poor leadership, miscommunication among members, lack of transparency in how the group is run and meddling of outside forces pushing their personal interests. Through the mediation agreement, the leadership managed to conduct successful elections which were free, fair and guided by the Kenyan Constitution and the charter of their group.

In the Kenyan context elections oftentimes are charged with emotions. In this case, however, the organizing committee was well prepared and gave confidence to all participants that the electoral process was trustworthy, as the whole exercise was being monitored and verified by the local administration of Kadzandani location.

The outcome of the bodaboda elections has proven that when institutions are well organized, prepared and ready to be held accountable, it is very unlikely that they will prompt violence.

“The whole process has led to the increased numbers of registered stages in Kadzandani location from ten to twenty-five thanks to the smooth mediation and election process.” Said the Kadzandani Chairperson. The stages he is referring to are like bus stops where people go and find drivers during most times of the day. Having these spots and the drivers registered is important to increase the safety of passengers and the safety of drivers against exploitation by the authorities.

Looking at the current and future national elections, we hope that our election authorities learn from the example of our bodaboda riders and make sure that there is a level playing field for all contenders guided by the Constitution.

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