Why Nairobi Woman Rep Esther Passaris snubbed maandamano
Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris, a member of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party which is headed by Raila Odinga, has never been seen in the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Alliance demonstrations (maandamano) since they began in March 2023.
These maandamano have been aimed at mobilizing Kenyans against the government which the opposition claims has been unable to rein in the runaway high cost of living in the country, against proposed taxes, against other parties “canibalizing” other parties and absorbing their defectors as President William Ruto has been doing with his UDA party, against President Ruto’s presidency and against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission for refusing to open their servers for scrutiny on who genuinely won the August 2022 presidential election.
Since March, a number of maandamano was held and Nairobi was the focal point of the demonstrations with the aim of disrupting government operations. Other counties including Kisumu and Kericho also had demos witnessed in various areas within. However, a cease fire was called in April to give bipartisan talks between the opposition and the government and for a few weeks, no one went to the streets. However, the talks hit a snag as the opposition threatened to call for new demonstrations. Before they could do this, they returned to the table again. Two weeks ago, the talks hit a snag again and now, there are utterances from various leaders that Azimio may return to the streets to demonstrate.
On June 6, 2023, Esther Passaris was asked by KTN News if she intended on joining Azimio on the streets should they return and she gave a categorical no, saying she suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a health issue.
“I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder from 2017 and I’ve never recovered. It gets worse. So I personally will not join maandamanos. Everybody has a right to express themselves, to go out and demonstrate but personally, for health reasons, I do not go for demonstrations,” said Ms Passaris.
According to the Mayo Clinic, PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event- either by experiencing it or witnessing it. A person suffering from it may exhibit symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety.
“Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.” said the Mayo Clinic in its publication.