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Bunge la Mwanachi: a case of idle minds or grassroot governance?


Nairobi City’s CBD is increasingly playing host to hundreds of middle aged and elderly persons, who spend the better part of each working day in groups to discuss the country’s “current affairs”.

The favourite locations for this lot, commonly referred to as Bunge la Mwananchi, are around Nairobi’s City Hall, the Supreme Court, and near the precincts of Parliament buildings.

Oftentimes, these debates go on for hours although it is not clear who sets the agenda in each of these “parliamentary sessions”.

Sessions of the Bunge la Mwananchi opposite the City Hall. PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS
Sessions of the Bunge la Mwananchi opposite the City Hall. PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS

“We come here to discuss about the state of the nation. At times through these forums we find solutions, exchange contacts and see how to inform our leaders on what the public thinks,” one ‘member’ of this informal parliament told Nairobi News.

Investigations by Nairobi News have revealed that recent debates in Bunge la Mwananchi have centred around the teachers’ strike, a rumoured cabinet reshuffle, corruption claims in Government and the high cost of living.

While such engagements are well within the participants’ political right, it is curious how a significant┬ánumber of people find time during what is undoubtedly the most productive part of the day to engage in such chit-chats.

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My point! Participants of the Bunge la Mwananchi. PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS

While the growing rate of unemployment could partly be the reason behind such gatherings, word also has it that some prominent politicians often deploy their agents or security detail to these gatherings to collect intelligence or to find out what is happening in town.