Monday, January 1, 2007
By: Julia N. Opoti
Kenyan Community Leaders
There was a resounding resolve from the different community leaders to work towards uniting all Kenyans.
Cliff Kosgei, chair of the Eldoret Group, a Minnesota organization for the Nandi community, challenged the new KCM board to create a sense of one community among Kenyans. Kosgei urged KCM leaders to take their responsibilities seriously since " leading is not a title, but is a call to action."
"I am glad that Kenyans are finally under one umbrella to encompass whole communities since this will accord the community a stronger voice in its endeavors. Hongera," said Peter Ndemo, speaking for Mwanyagetinge, a community organization.
George Oyeho, a community leader with the Rotary Club (Woodbury), was excited at the prospect of working with all Kenyans on issues of development. He encouraged members of the community to remember their roots by participating in projects that will go towards poverty alleviation and in improving the standard of living of Kenyans by investing in education, health services and food storage. He also impressed upon the event’s attendants on the need to take an official census on the number of Kenyans living in Minnesota. "We are still practicing hunter-gatherer skills, however, we will progress a lot more if we worked in solidarity."
Hercules Otieno, a member of the AKIA, the Luo organization also warned the leaders about making the association a personal business as has been the practice in many community organizations.
Representating the Kenyan Somali community, Abdullahi Sheikh was glad to be involved in KCM’s discussion since his community, residents of Northern Kenya, have always been isolated from the rest of Kenya. His message to the audience was profound in establishing one’s identity. "One discovers that life is beyond your little community. When I moved away from home, I began to identify not as a Somali, but as a Kenyan- a member of a larger communityCall to Action
"Difference is strength, but we need to use this to a great good," said Dr. Abdullahi.
Dr. Abdullahi asked Kenyans in Diaspora to take advantage of living in the US, a country with great resources, both in technology and economic advancement. While a lot of Kenyans might have individual obligations, especially financial ones, it is imperative that they learn to work as a community for economic development. He urged the leadership of KCM to write a policy document where they put the Kenyan government to action, and use the media to push this agenda. Dr. Abdullahi cited current Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki’s energized speech where he promised Kenyans a better life. He compared the disappointment that Kenyan leaders, in their failure to deliver their development promises, to an inflated soccer ball. Dr. Abdullahi is confident that associations such as KCM have a responsibility to call for development in Kenya with an effective government, allowing Kenyans to look forward to improved infrastructure and social systems. "There is life after a political term," said Dr. Abdullahi speaking on the big man syndrome where leaders squander public resources for private gain.
KCM is looking forward to have its first elections in the next few months. According to the interim chair of the association, Joash Maangi KCM will serve as national forum for Kenyans in Minnesota to discuss and partake in matters on Kenya’s national interest.
"KCM will help Kenyans integrate into mainstream America as they make Minnesota their home away from home. KCM promises to be inclusive of all Kenyans in Minnesota. We propose a structure that will have an advisory board with the following stakeholders: leaders from all Minnesotan Kenyan Organization, Kenyan business owners, professional leaders and individuals with local property," Maangi on the structure of KCM.
Following skeptical questions on the suspected political role of KCM from Kenyans attending the launch, Maangi assured them that KCM promised to be an independent organization devoid of political association.
The following are the interim officers, Bob Nyangweso, Nicholas Mireri, Otieno Nyangundi, Loice Oburu, and Henry Ongeri.