BUNGE LA MWANANCHI
They are referred to as street bunges (Parliament) or bunge la mwananchi (people’s Parliament). They comprise assembled groups of people in the streets of urban centres.
The main issues addressed in these gatherings are usually political in nature and the daily newspapers provide the political agenda for the day.
Debates on more occasions than not are usually heated as positions are taken depending on the political affiliations of the diverse speakers who converge on the streets.
The forthcoming General Election has provided enough discussions on the nexus between national politics and the opinion of the common mwananchi.
Researchers argue that the street bunges are a case of participatory governance where people feel they are part of their country’s issues and therefore exercise their freedom of speech.
By Francis Ontomwa
It is exactly 10:30am and a stroll along this busy street reveals small gatherings of people engaged in heated debates.
Groupings of young and old men have converged around newspaper vendors and some popular joints such as outside hotels and on corridors in clusters.
Heated debate seems to ensue from each of the groups and from afar one can notice how moving the topics of discussion are, as some are seen laughing out loudly while others nod to speaker after speaker’s words.
Some call them street bunges (Parliament) while others refer to them as Bunge la Mwananchi (people’s parliament).
They have always been there and each day they are sprouting and the numbers seem to enlarge by the day.
While an array of issues are handled in these barazas ranging from social, economic to personal issues, politics seems to be the hot potato.
The looming General Election has particularly fueled their springing up. For a regular visitor here, there is a high likelihood of spotting the same faces time and again.
Taking centre stage is the succession politics of 2013, analysts are keen not to write off the political chitchat found on the streets.
“The things discussed in these gatherings are usually bare bone facts on the ground. They depict what the common person thinks about the country’s politics and somehow they have a way of shaping the general opinion,” says Veronicah Kiluva, a researcher at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST).
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