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KOROGOCHO-SPIRITUAL-LEADERS-ASSOCIATION

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					   KOROGOCHO SPIRITUAL LEADERS ASSOCIATION

               THE CRY OF THE POOR IN KOROGOCHO
     “UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN, UNTO US A SAVIOUR IS GIVEN”

OUTLINE

   1. POVERTY IN KOROGOCHO
   2. DECISION MAKING
   3. BASIC COMMODITIES
   4. PUBLIC TRANSPORT
   5. LAND
   6. HOUSE RENTS
   7. INSECURITY
   8. SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND ALCOHOLISM
   9. DANDORA DUMPING SITE
   10. CONCLUSION


INTRODUCTION

The Korogocho Spiritual Leaders Association (KOSLA) is a union of spiritual leaders namely
Pastors, Priests, Bishops, advocating for the rights of the common mwananchi against all kinds
of exploitation and manipulation. In this great season of Christmas, as we commemorate the
incarnation of our Lord when, prompted by the love He has for humankind, the Word became
flesh and made His dwelling among us (John 1:14), we would like to express what we believe is
currently the plight of the poor of Korogocho. All people have a right to live and enjoy God-
given natural resources without discrimination regardless of their poverty background. Christmas
is a reminder to us that all human beings have dignity since we are all created in the image and
likeness of God. God wishes that all enjoy the fruits of the land He gave them and that no one
should ever feel a stranger in their own dwelling. Ours is the wish to seek to carry on the mission
that Jesus announced (see Luke 4:16-20): to proclaim the Good News to the poor, with all that
this Good News implies. In this memorandum, aware of our pastoral obligation and called to
proclaim the Good News that brings salvation and genuine freedom to all, we underline the cry
of our poor marginalized community in Korogocho slums. We appeal to our beloved
Government to countercheck the following areas:

   1. POVERTY IN KOROGOCHO

Poverty characterizes the lifestyle of the people in Korogocho. Poverty is inhuman. It means
death. Death caused by hunger and sickness. People are hungry since they cannot afford to buy
food for their lives. People cannot afford to pay for the their own medical bills. The majority live
in abject poverty. Those employed count on a monthly remuneration that ranges between Kshs
2400 – 5000. These salary scales cannot permit savings given the living standards of our times.
Hence, whatever is remunerated goes from „hand to mouth‟ as is commonly put. Tomorrow will
take care of itself. Are the people in authority not guilty of this situation? Or should we say it is a
curse from God? Contemplating the Christmas festive, is this the house we are preparing for our
Lord?
The natural resources are a free gift to all from the Creator. Everyone has a right to enjoy and use
them improve their lives. But it is sad to note that the natural resources are not evenly shared.
There are people, most of whom are in authority, who believe that it is their right and mission to
amass as much property as possible. That the natural resources are property of a chosen few.
With this situation we have before us the gap between the rich and the poor widening. The rich
become richer while the poor become poorer. Honestly this is not the state in which God wishes
the earth to be. It is not what God had in mind when He said “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the
earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the
living things that move on earth” (Genesis 1:28).
To improve this state it is absolutely vital for the rich and the poor to come together and seed
how best the natural resources can be shared. This coming together would guarantee the creation
of a world where everyone feels at home and there will be no one lacking in anything (See Acts
4:32). The rich and the poor need each other. No one should be used as a stepping stone for the
other‟s success, neither directly nor indirectly. This is both immoral and unjust. It is immoral to
buy the poor person‟s vote, exploiting their ignorance and desperate situation, with just a kilo of
sugar. As spiritual leaders we disown and condemn this malicious trend.

   2. DECISION MAKING

God blessed them saying: “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion
over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on earth”
(Genesis 1:28).

The poor have a God-given right to participate in deciding on issues that touch common interest.
They have a right to contribute directly or by representation to the cultural, economic, political
and social life of the civil community to which they belong. This right is not restricted only to a
certain class of people, namely, the haves. We note with shame and sadness that the decisions are
restricted to the discernment and will of a few: the powerful. This is very unfair given that this
country belongs to all and not just a chosen few. The poor common people have no say in their
own Government. They are refugees and aliens in their own country. We all need to have a say
in decision-making. The people have to be really represented by someone in Parliament.

   3. BASIC COMMODITIES

Hear this you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! “When will the new
moon be over,” you ask, “that we may sell our grain, and the Sabbath, that we may display the
wheat …add to the shekel and fix our scales for cheating!” (Amos 8:5)

The uncontrollable continuous rise of prices of the basic commodities is a concern for the
religious leaders in Korogocho. It is sad to note that the law always favors those who exploit the
poor. The most heavily taxed are the common poor folks. Selling Sukuma Wiki along the slum
streets, one is taxed Kshs 50 every week by the authorities while the MPs hike their salaries any
time they wish to do so.
Regarding the prices of goods we ask: who regulates the prices of the basic commodities? Where
is the poor person‟s shop? The basic commodities – sugar, maize flour, baking flour, kerosene
(fuel) and all other food consumptions have been subject to a tremendous hike. The hiking is
done by the wholesalers and retailers who never have in mind the consumer but only their
profits. To site an example, currently a kilo of sugar that used to cost Kshs 50 by the end of
November this year, now costs Kshs 100 (double the price). Kenya has become a country where
prices are determined by individuals without any common reasonable criteria that considers the
common citizen. And that can neither be questioned nor challenged. Dare to challenge that the
response will always be that buying is an option to be taken or left out. This is because you are
not the only buyer. There is someone behind you who can afford what you cannot afford since
their pockets are “fuller” than yours. What counts is not the citizen but the money that comes
from the citizen. Neither a leader from the Government nor a member of Parliament has openly
stood up to condemn this hike. One can rightly say that they have no reason to lose their sleep for
the poor fellow‟s plight given that some of them have already secured a one year‟s stock.
Contrary to this situation businesses should be characterized by their capacity to serve the
common good of society through the production of useful goods and services. A business‟
objective must be met in economic terms and according to economic criteria, but the authentic
values that bring about the concrete development of the person and the society must not be
neglected. All those involved in business must ensure that the community in which they work
represents a good for everyone and not a structure that permits the satisfaction of someone‟s
merely personal interests. As it creates situations favorable to the free exercise of the economic
activity, the State must be inspired by the principle of solidarity and establish limits for the
autonomy of the parties to defend those who are weaker. We are appealing to our beloved
President his Excellency Mr. Mwai Kibaki to intervene so as to ensure that this abuse is checked.
He is the father of our nation! Where are you Mr. President? The poor people are dying without
mercy in our own country!

   4. PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Transport is a basic need for our people of Korogocho. People move to their places of work to
earn a living or to look for a job. The poor are the victims of the messed up circumstances of the
Public transportation system in Kenya. Recently we have witnessed a tremendous rise in bus
fares. Fares from Kariobangi to the City Center that used to be Kshs 20 per person now range
between Kshs 30-40 per person. These rates vary depending on the weather. When it rains they
double to between Kshs 50-70 per person. Being the order of the day the poor hopeless person
has no say on that. The only option left is either to board the matatu or take the commonly
known “route eleven” vis-à-vis “twanga mguu” (an expression meaning “to go on foot”).
Traveling upcountry is another hell. Fares vary during the time of the year. During the public
holidays bus fares go up to Kshs 1000 where one normally pays between Kshs 400-500. Salaries
remain unchanged despite this increment. If one thinks of improving the poor person‟s salary it
would be by 5%. Our question is: who regulates and controls public transportation? Does the law
exist in this area? And if it does, which are the signs of its presence?
   5. LAND

The reality of our people is marked by a poverty which we can call inhuman and anti-
evangelical. Land in the Bible is an object of a promise of life; one‟s own land where the
children of God are habitants and not strangers. A strange land is the place of injustice and
death. The people of Korogocho live as strangers. They live on Crown land that will never be
theirs if things continue the way they are. Moreover 80% of the population pay high rent illegally
to structure owners for the poor shacks where they live. The Government is reluctant to organize
a land tenure system whereby everyone can get their dew. This is a system that is specifically put
to maintain the poor at bay. We don‟t see any efforts to improve the situation despite many years
of struggle. Who really owns the land of Korogocho? Who is gaining?

   6. HOUSE RENTS

The vast majority of the people in Korogocho live in make-shift residences or in huge complexes
of crumbling and unsafe houses. Rents are hiked by the landlords at their own pleasure. The
same landlords can also evict the tenants at will. Our emphasis on corruption from the top level
has made us overlook whatever is going on down here in the world of the poor person. The
common voiceless poor people are subjected to manipulation, exploitation and intimidation. We
extend our invitation to the senior government officials and the government‟s spokesman to pay
a visit in the slums and see for themselves what the common people are going through.
The structures in which people live are not structures for human residence. Despite the rents
being hiked, the iron sheets are rotten and leaking. Dare address this issue, you will be asked to
quit. You call this life? Who will save the common poor mwananchi? It is necessary to offer
choices of decent housing where the people are directly involved in the process.

   7. INSECURITY

Insecurity has subjected people to a life of fear. Security‟s reinforcement is the Government‟s
and the community‟s prerogative. True! The thugs spotted out in the community are in one day
put in then the next day released only to continue harming the community further. Who is the
custodian of the security? To whom should we address this issue? The lynching of our young
people due to theft and robbery is not a scenery pleasing to our eyes. Law and order should be
reinforced and its following ensured by respective stakeholders.

   8. SUBSTANCE ABUSE

We have witnessed a great increase of the illicit brew. Active players in this area are mostly
young people who engage in drinking “chang‟aa,” sniffing glue and using other drugs that
actually destroy the body and the community. These activities bring on board sexual
immoralities, robberies and all sorts of ugly happenings. While it is true that the police are
deployed everywhere and have all the necessary information regarding drug abuse and illicit
brew, the ugly reality is that so far no action has been taken. Where are we heading to? What
leads, in most cases, to our young people getting involved in these self-destructive activities is
dropping out of school due to poverty, inability to face the challenges of life serenely, idleness to
name just a few. Can we really talk of Government alternatives to empower young people in the
slums? Is the Government really unable to empower young people to face the basic challenges of
life?

   9. THE DANDORA DUMPING SITE

The Dandora dumping site next to Korogocho is actually hazardous to human health. Over 1
million people are victims of the presence of this dumping site at its present location. Many
people have lost their lives due to different kinds of diseases most of which being respiratory
related, as a result of working in this environment which does not favour at all human living
standards. The security also is at stake given that the dumping site is a haven for organized crime
groups who threaten the peace and security of the poor. As Pastors, we have held a number of
meetings with different Government officials on the subject but action has yet to be taken.
We have produced a memorandum in which there is information from the Ministry of Health
shown the health hazard, prompted by the dumping site. Recently we have also had the visit of
the Minister of Environment Hon. Kivuta Kibwana who had promised stern action towards the
relocation of the dumping site to be effected in stages. We hope that this promise will not only be
empty promises but real concern for the poor. Assistance should be given to the people working
there and better alternatives which ensure dignified ways of earning a living. Being poor and in
search of cash does not by any means eliminate your dignity.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, ours is the hope that an affirmative action will be taken by the Government to
rethink the governing system of the country otherwise they stand responsible for whatever is
taking place. The Government was elected for a new beginning and as a transforming agent. God
offers us a real possibility of overcoming evil and attaining good. Christian hope lends great
energy to commitment in the social field, because it generates confidence in the possibility of
building a better world, even if there will never exist “a paradise on earth.” We extend our
invitation to all to participate in the World Social Forum scheduled from the 19 th to the 25th
January 2007 at Moi International Sports Center Kasarani. This is not an economic forum, but a
moment where simple people from all over the world come together to propose and implement
ways in which a better world can be built without stepping on someone‟s rights. We always need
others to work for justice. Alone we cannot. We would like to propose the principles and values
that can sustain a society worthy of the human person. Among these principles, solidarity
includes all the others. Light is shed on this principle by the primacy of love. Love must be
present in and permeate every social relationship. In order to make society more human, more
worthy of the human person, love in social-political, economic and cultural sphere must be given
renewed value, becoming the constant and highest norm of all activity. Only love can completely
transform the human person. In this season of Christmas, with the birth of Christ, hope is born in
the midst of suffering: it takes the form of life that comes through death. Its ultimate motivation
is found in the living God, the God of tender love, who stoops to us in our suffering, our faith,
and our efforts to be in solidarity with the poor of Korogocho and to win their liberation. Thanks
to this hope, which our people experience in the midst of suffering, our people can walk before
the Lord like those who do so in the land of the living (Psalm 116:9).
As we extend our best wishes to all for the coming New Year 2007, we wish that the recent
violence in some of our slums (Kibera, Mathare etc.) will be a scenary not to be repetead. As we
approach the Kenya General Election 2007 the campaigns of our politicians should not be
through incitement. We don‟t want to see violence and blood. Our wish is that all work in
solidarity and unity to build a nation that is home for all.
                                                                  Mungu awabariki.,

              THE KOROGOCHO SPIRITUAL LEADERS ASSOCIATION
                                (KOSLA)

1.    Pastor Elly Ochieng                            Grace Given Church
2.    Bishop Silvanus Olonde                         Christ Doctrine Church
3.    Fr. Daniele Moschetti                          St.John Catholic Church
      Fr. Paolo Latorre                              St. John Catholic Church
      Fr. John Webotsa                               St. John Catholic Church
4.    Bishop Caleb Alingo                            Glory Church
5.    Mwalimu Joannes Odhiambo                       Lejio Mariae
6.    Bishop William Okiya                           Maranatha Church
7.    Bishop Samuel Oduk                             Ema Ministry
8.    Pastor Philippe Odando                         Israel Ninive Church
9.    Pastor Erastus Omukangu                        Rehema Church
10.   Pastor James Mburu                             Tumaini Church
11.   Captain Aggrey Otieno                          Anglican Church
12.   Pastor Cristine Atieno                         Faith of the Apostles
13.   Pastor Kiatu                                   Baptist Church
14.   Pastor Joseph Ochieng                          Jerusalem Church
15.   Pastor Paul Gathiru                            Wakorino Church
16.   Pastor Nicholas Agisah                         Compassion Ministries
17.   Pastor Michael Omondi Oyiera                   Christian Family Ministry Kenya
18.   Pastor George Obange                           Faith Baptist
19.   Pastor Charles Akir                            Five Fold Ministries
20.   Pastor Samson james Odhiambo                   Pentecostal Revival Church




Korogocho, 27 December 2006 Saint John Evangelist

				
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