Why Disability Representation In Kenyan Politics Matters More Than Ever

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In the upcoming election 2017 in Kenya year,
how do we decide who to vote for? What issues are most important to us? I believe most of us seek a candidate
and a party that represents us. We want to see ourselves reflected not just in the candidates, but the ordinary people who support and represent them at
deligations, rallies, and commentaries. Yet for many people with disabilities, seeing someone on TV or at a political rally who looks like us, whose life
is like ours, is an unusual event. We have rarely been given a voice in national politics. Until now.

When I was a little boy, I had about a Blind man DR chomba who was trying to seek election post and was denied.
in history I have read a biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I learned he had polio and that he was the first and thus far only
President with a significant physical
Disability in the world.

I also learned he felt he had to hide the extent of his disability, using braces and carefully staged photo opportunities to conceal the fact that he
couldn’t walk. He refused to be photographed in a wheelchair, to the point where very few photos of him using one survive. Although I understand his decision
in the context of the times, it doesn’t exactly make me feel pride as a person with a disability. He was one of the strongest leaders in U.S. history,
yet feared being perceived as weak because of stereotypes about disability.
I also Remember very well at the university those days of ours we celebrated the passage of the persons with disability’s act 2003 not because it was enacted but because retired president Kibaki had to be on a wheelchair for the nation to realize that we exist.
It had taken 10 years to happen even if some top government officials had children with disabilities who they hide.
Some years later, not long after the Kenyan With Disabilities Act became law, I visited ministry of education Jogoo house and found lifts.C. I remember marveling that the bathrooms in
the jogoow house building were wheelchair accessible, since that was unusual at the time. I asked one of our staff about it, and she said it was
because of
a staff with a physical disability
I had never heard of her before, but I felt immediate solidarity and pride. If she
could be a ministry official with a disability, I could accomplish anything I chose.
This was the time when we actively fought for the affirmative action on entyry to the university for the young generation who are wnjoying the fruits of our labor.
Many years after that, I have watched Representative
Mwaura
giving a speech on TV, proudly advancing the Albinism agenda.
the NCPWD Chair David sankok Politically championing issues
he usually strides across the stage on. There words are powerful, and there personality are dynamic. They inspire the public in that moment. They make many believe someone in our government might actually understand our lives and care about us. They all seem like someone who might
one day be President and do so while embracing there disability without shame.
Since then, politics have taken a turn for the nasty. We have a major party’s candidates talking about ableism tendacies “who can not see the development, who can not hear the development, holding forums in inaccessible stadia, mocking of persons with disabilities”
Persons with disabilities were being carried up the stairs.
All this are not acceptable in this era.
Most of the uttered statement in mother tongue do not get in to the media and leave the disability community talking about it.
am yet to see Jubilee party, CORD collition and other smaller parties having a person with disability from the tribe address the deligate conferences qualitatively. but it seemed no one else cared.

It seems we are known on paper.
Mwaura, David, Mutemi speech have been hard within us its high time they became viral and which can lead to interviews, appearances, and most importantly conversations about disability. We need to keep having those
conversations. It’s easy for politicians to throw a big party for themselves and say all the things they believe, but how often do they actually accomplish
what they promise to do? I appreciate the fact that the all mainstream TV now a days have the sign language interprators. If KSL on TV is quality that’s a story for another day.

people with disabilities have more opportunities than they did in the past. we have more opportunities than we had. But we also still have a long way
to go since we should stop enjoying good will and go for the real deals by stopping the politicians from using us as bargaining tools.
Supporting people with disabilities is about more than including us in deligate conferences speeches. It’s about passing important laws like the
Persons with Disability bill 2016 which am not sure if it will see parliament this year, having adoption of the marakesh treaty, having a carers legislation, KSL regulation, Sighted guide regulations, Adaptive technology legislation
Having a inclusive social protection security for all persons with disabilities

It’s about fighting for jobs for people with disabilities;
our unemployment rate
is far worse than other groups we talk about more. It’s about reforming “work incentives” that are supposed to help people with disabilities to work and
still receive essential health benefits like Medicare and in-home care, but actually make being employed overly complicated.
It’s about adding more teeth to the
disability act 2003 WDA
and pursuing change in cities behind the times and still have many businesses with basic access barriers like a single step at an entrance.

It’s about creating more affordable housing and accessible apartments and homes, so people with disabilities can find a place to live and older adults
can remain in their homes as they age.

It’s about investing in technologies of the future, such as self-driving cars, robotic limbs, and fully-featured powered wheelchairs, and ensuring they
are affordable to people with disabilities.
It’s about reforming our justice system, where people with developmental and mental health disabilities are disproportionately harmed, and promoting education,
treatment, and rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders.
It’s about recognizing that the disability rights struggle intersects with the struggles of other groups. Many people with disabilities, includingme ,
also belong to minority racial or ethnic groups..
When
we have conversations and learn to understand each other, we’ll find out how much we have in common and realize we shouldn’t let people try to divide us.
As voters, we have to decide which party and candidate we feel will best accomplish these goals. For me, ,persons with disabilities should not be put in to one basket.————
If the current 12 parliamentarians and the 72 Members of county assemblys have delivered to us or not that’s a story for another day.
With that said, I acknowledge that many important disability rights laws, including the Kenyans With Disabilities Act2003, were bipartisan efforts. I will
always be willing to have a dialogue with any respectful person, regardless of party affiliation. We can only accomplish change for people with disabilities
if we work together.

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@mpofunamba1
#chief disability soldier
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#N.b the views here do not represent any organization but are personal.