© 2014 Africa journalist Arjen Westra | Africareporter.NET

Hello, I’m Arjen Westra, Africa traveller by choice, this is my blog from this interesting continent. I would love to hear your thoughts about what’s going right, and wrong, across Africa. Feel free to browse my blog posts through the tag cloud or contact me to talk to see what we can do for each other or just drop me an email to tell me about your organisation's or personal media-challenges. You will always get an answer.


Kenya | Vacancies at State House: Mood Readers wanted (m/f)


Are these guys Kenya's ideal mood readers?

Are these guys Kenya’s ideal mood readers

An imaginary morning at the President of Kenya’s Office: President gets up, first thing he gets is his security briefing, especially movements that are ICC-related and CORD related, then the press clippings.

He goes true with it, gets some emotions with the news, then his personal assistant comes up with today’s agenda. While walking to his vehicle with a tea-to-go in his hands, he gets briefed in more detail about the first meeting today. In the car next to him, his speech-writer talks to him about the print-out mister President has  just been handed over: the speech he going to deliver  at the next function.

Eh, wait… stop… Are we missing something here? As in: missing something that we might need, not as in missing something that was there but we didn’t see? Yes! I would say. We are missing the briefing by the chief mood reader!!! The guy, or lady who precedes the peer group of listening ears and eyes that have a day-job listening to the wananchi (wenye nchi).

They show up at the markets, in the matatus, in queues at Safaricom Mpesa-shops, near schools, where they find parents talking to them about their struggle with daily life problems, they show up meeting police officers, with whom they talk about their experiences,  they show at the stage, talking to people what they saw last night’s news and some of them are even commuting from Kibera to Parklands, with the walking nation, walking their way and thus getting a feel for the mood of the nation from their specific spot of operation.

After our athletes, they must be our fittest best hearing and communicating citizens, because after having reading the mood during evening rush hour, they have to be in time in State House for their half hour briefing of the President. With the input of the mood readers, who look at things from a wananchi-point of view,  Uhuru and Ruto adapt their speeches.

The mood readers are carrying videocameras: three wananchi (wenye nchi) get their chance to get their story straight to the president: two minutes you have. So mister President listens direct to the stories every morning while enjoying some mais porridge, or on his iPod while doing his daily running exercise around State House.

Parallel to mood readers, the president might start a  big listening campaign. ‘We are going Digital’ gets a new dimension. Wananchi are pushed to share the things they are most concerned about through the website www.thepresidentsears.co.ke. The result will be a pile of opinions, challenges and priorities from common people all around Kenya, that will be sorted based on… issues (after some moderation, I guess).

Outcome of this list will be the hit list of Kenyan problems, The Survival Top 15. Now, we, they, the boys and girls in charge (isn’t that us through them???)  got a list of issues we can work on. That’s where Kenyans will be united. This is where different tribes can even work together: in an issue-based politics…

If the government is serious about listening what the people want, they put in place such a system, not for campaigning purposes, not for spying on people who might have ‘dangerous’ ideas. But so far, it all seems to be fear that’s reigning, not based on the mood of the people and not believing that people who actually are not happy, might have a good reason to express it. I hear there are some vacancies. Mmmmm… Anybody?