Why the disability movement in Kenya should stop crying faw

Over the years the Kenyan disabled haven’t got enough opportunities in many spheres of life.
This is because of overreliance of the old tricks and lack of change of tact in the advocacy engagement processes.
Unfortunately, it’s true, many disability private and public initiatives have taken place either as a second thought or organized by the few politically correct individuals.

So, if we know this to be true, what are we doing about it?
Most of the time Kenyans with disabilities have not grabbed the recent social, economic or political opportunities.
For instance, after the 2007 post-election violence there was no representation nor disability mainstreaming agenda in the Kofi anaan initiatives.
This scenario has been repeated once again in the building bridge initiative.
The disability
movement is not represented and right now is when the disability keyholders are trying to unmask the already cooked food.
The disability movement in Kenya forgets so easily if you were not on the table in preparation of meal.
You don’t have manors to demand for the cake.
It’s prudent to say the Kenyan disability sector will just get the breadcrumbs.
This is seen by upcoming mobilization of groups of disabled persons to play to the gallery even when the building bridge initiative report is yet to be made public.
The reality of the day there is not a living systematic structural engagement of disabled persons.
The barriers to public participation are either because of financial reasons or even a few individuals who have held the disability sector on ransom.
Am not surprised that currently we have an amorphous body called
Caucus on Disability Rights Advocacy.
Additionally, we still have another platform still championing on the global commitments made in July 2018.
All of these platforms still have the same individuals and agencies.
Does the common Wanjiku with disability aware of these platforms?
Is the voice of rural disability hard in these forums?
What are the tangible benefits to the change of the implementation of legal or policy frameworks?
What are other alternatives to ensure real and proper public participation and engagement of many disabled persons can be achieved rather than the few elites in the disability movement?
I opine that in article 2 of the constitution of citizen participation and article 54 should be made a reality and mandatory.
Moreover, the movement needs emancipation from the tired narratives and demand what is rightful.
For example, why do the mentioned platforms do not engage in the recent happenings as reported in the media like how children with disabilities were mistreated.

Why has the disability movement kept mum on the gazettements done by government of Kenya?
The jury is out there!
This is evidenced by below article.
http://www.mugambipaul.com/2019/09/03/why-the-disabled-kenyan-man-missed-the-land-comission-job/land
The young and vibrant individuals with disabilities have a role to play.
Do not mind the lack of mentorship in the sector.
Rise up and contribute to the transformation.
Through this the youth can reduce social media lamentations.
Research shows 80% of disabled are between the ages of 18 and 64 – the workforce age.
This can have creative and innovative outcomes for the disability movement.
Additionally, the legal processes in Kenya have not favoured the disability sector.
As penned in my past articles we should await 2021 to have the repeal of the 2003 persons with disability act.
Moreover, we still have the 2006 disability policy still in draft form.
Does that sound an alarm?
Historically in Africa Kenya is admired for having best practises in disability sector but this tale is being overtaken by Rwanda and other African countries.
For instance, Kenya disability sector has been agitating for improved accessible public transport.
This hasn’t taken place and now Rwanda is boasting of implementing accessible transport by acquisition of accessible buses and subsidized fairs for disabled persons.

What more can be done?
It’s been my experience that disability sector wants to be seen as benevolent, accepting of all disabilities, and up to date in compliance. The reality is that
many don’t want to bother as long as their image is intact.
As illustrated in many forums organized by the disability sector and non-disability sector members, they don’t provide alternative formats of information or observance of reasonable accommodation.
If the disability sector made it mandatory to preach water and Drink water, I believe things will not be the same for future disability generations.
As a public scholar and a person with lived experience of being disabled.
I have a dream that one day the sector will stand tall and read declaration.
“We the disabled of Kenya from across our great Country;
Recognising the sovereignty of the Constitution of Kenya and of the great people of Kenya, 15 % of the Kenyan largest population.
Appreciating that the Constitution of Kenya is the consensus document that reflects the ‘voice of the People of Kenya’ and has ring-fenced and protected Clauses for all including disabled and other marginalized groups through various provisions.”
We express our disappointment in the lack of leadership and strong commitment by the duty bearers to ensure the implementation of the article 54 provisions.
We therefore have the following Irreducible Minimum

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I passionately believe that If Kenyans with disabilities think everybody has value, everybody can be capable, and no one should be excluded. I make an appeal go and Tell your CEOs, board of directors in the disability sector and allies of the disability movement to join and rise to the occasion and change tact.
Why should the disability movement be singing to the second fiddle?

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

The two Sleeping blind giants in Kenya: author Mugambi Paul

Reading the annual general meeting invite by the Kenya society for the blind gives a familiar script.
The process and conduct of doing things seem to be usual.
No logical or pragmatic turnaround of event.
The Kenya Society for the Blind is a statutory charitable organization established in 1956 by an Act of Parliament this institution is meant to guide, offer technical support to matters Blindness and vision impaired to the government and stakeholders.
Has Kenya society for the Blind lived to its promises envisaged in the 1956 at?
What is the role of government in ensuring the Blind and vision impaired persons live to exploit their potentials?
Did the government escape duty and obligation to the blind and vision impaired persons?
When shall we have the updated Kenya society for the blind act to meet the current issues faced by the blind and vision impaired persons?
The act needs to be aligned with the Kenyan constitution 2010, UNCRPD, Public ethics act and public participations act.

This is not to say that nothing is happening.
As a matter of fact,
Kenya society for the blind has held several charity activities geared towards education of the blind pupils.
Additionally, there are many grey areas on matters Blindness and vision impairment in Kenya.
Its either the Kenya Blindness sector has decided to be dormant or the system has refused to change.
For instance, in matters governance even with known lawyers we aren’t able to differentiate the roles played by board members and staff.
This is totally uncalled for and review needs to be done urgently.

This seems to be a common practice among the disabled persons organization in
Kenya. With this notwithstanding, in matters programming several issues can be raised.
What are the pros and cons of having car garages in the premises?
How many blind and vision impaired persons have gainfully been absorbed by the new ventures?

Several studies and social media posts have continuously demonstrated this behavior.

https://m.facebook.com/groups/782290015159886?view=permalink&id=1860411574014386&refid=46&__xts__%5B0%5D=12.%7B%22unit_id_click_type%22%3A%22graph_search_results_item_tapped%22%2C%22click_type%22%3A%22result%22%2C%22module_id%22%3A8%2C%22result_id%22%3A%22100000309023349%3A1860411574014386%22%2C%22session_id%22%3A%2294af8b3a8130b8cd80ffb146320fa7d7%22%2C%22module_role%22%3A%22FEED_POSTS%22%2C%22unit_id%22%3A%22browse_rl%3Abab2c8d9-58c6-03bb-6970-555f4984237d%22%2C%22browse_result_type%22%3A%22browse_type_story%22%2C%22unit_id_result_id%22%3A1860411574014386%2C%22module_result_position%22%3A0%2C%22result_creation_time%22%3A1539597936%7D&__tn__=%2As
secondly on face value the Kenya union of the blind is supposed to be the voice of blind and vision impaired in Kenya.
theoretically, Kenya union of the blind is mandated to be bold and grant the self and systemic advocacy initiatives among the blind and vision impaired persons.
It’s an institution where the blind and vision impaired persons can be able to become self-advocate.
It is also a platform
For engagement with government and stakeholders.
Can we claim the blind and vision impaired persons are self-advocates?
Is there a mentorship and leadership practice?
Where is the status implementation of marekesh treaty??
In matters governance Kenya union of the blind stand to be condemned for its status.
Am not surprised that the largest blindness organization in Kenya has the same chairperson for the last 30 years.

To make the matters worse
The chairperson was appointed as a commissioner in a state organ which is also supposed to play an oversight role on disability matters in the country.
This is a true example of conflict of public interests!
This discussion is held in low tones in the disability sector.
Am not flabbergasted when the Kenyan blindness sector has not experienced significant reforms for its current and future generations.
The barriers faced by blind and vision impaired persons have been compounded by the sleeping advocacy organ.
It seems the mediocre practises are in the Kenyan DNA.
Several researches have shown how many blind and vision impaired persons have low esteem combined with the restrictive environment they have lived.
This affirms why most individuals with disabilities are not able to advocate for themselves.
On the other hand, the disabled persons who seem to advocate for themselves are treated as riles or individuals who are outcasts.
Its high time the Kenyan blindness sector arose from slumbered and demonstrate with collective and unifying voice life will be better for present and future generation of the Blind and vision impaired persons. A clarion call is be stalled upon individuals to show the light.
As Martin Niemöller a prominent Lutheran pastor in reference to the Nazi regime, once said;
“First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out; because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out; because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out; because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Furthermore, there has been rise of new entrants in the Kenyan blindness sector.
In other words, the new kids on the block in the blindness and vision impaired sector need to take lessons from the 2 sleeping giants.
This will aid effective engagement and bring the blind and vision impaired persons to their rightful place.
The Kenyan government needs to establish an oversight agency to ensure the Blind and vision impaired persons do not become vulnerable under this circumstance.
Its clearly known that there are no support mechanisms in place to support blind and vision impaired persons.
The 98 % of the blind and vision impaired individuals are just survivors in Kenya.

some recommendations to the Kenya society for the blind and Kenya union of the blind.
1. Put the house in order by reviewing the ACT of 1956. By public participation and engaging policy makers.
2. Review the governance and regulation policies.
3. Conduct a self-surgery before the reforms take place. To demonstrate this, we Kenya used to have telephone booths later on Mobile took over. We used to have tined cooking oil now we have rapped and plastic cooking oils.to bring matters to perspective, Kenya society for the Blind used to advocate for persons with albinism. Things changed drastically and now persons with albinism left the Blind and vision impaired wagon for better tides.
All in all, the future is bright for the blind and vision impaired persons.
As a public policy scholar on diversity and inclusion I will strive to contribute by rearing many more disabled persons to be their own best advocate
I have recognized that as a blind person, if you know the laws and understand your rights you are the most authentic spokesperson for yourself. Thus, much of my work is now cut out
It doesn’t matter the time, but we are heading there.
Advocacy is one of the most important reasons for me to connect with disabled people and their families. When I do, I will teach them that they are not alone,
I will empower them with the tools to raise their own expectations, and I will connect them with an unparalleled network that will be a lifelong resource for them
to continue to be strong advocates for themselves.

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.