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Black Students in England Face Alarming Rates of Exclusions and Over Policing



Canadian school board says all staff must now take anti Islamophobia training

Education is hailed as the key to establishing a world built upon more just foundations. But while this can definitely be the case, systemic practices in the West mean that educational institutions are not always geared towards being just. A recent Commission on Young Lives report in England shows that it is often in schools that racism and prejudices start, especially targeting Black students.

The report detailed the exclusion of Black students in schools, their adultification and the discrimination they face — from subtle racism to overt expressions of it. It shared the stories of many Black students who had been impacted by discrimination in their schools, and then proposed recommendations that schools should take into account.

Exclusions are a form of discipline practiced in schools across the West, but they often disproportionately impact Black students. Across England the report found that over seven years, there was a 55% increase in the number of students being permanently excluded from schools. Similarly, there was a 40% increase on temporary exclusions.

The upward trend in exclusions handed out to young Black students later leads to the criminalization of Black people and their overrepresentation in the country’s jails. Statistics prove that many of those who receive cautions or sentences for offences have previously been excluded from schools. For some Black students, when going to school is off of the table, they must find another way to sustain themselves. Stefan, someone who was excluded from his school, testified in the report that this was the case for him. “When someone gets kicked out of school [they are] pushed right into the groomers’ hands.”

Instead of teaching a child a lesson, like school discipline is supposed to do, the disproportionate rate of exclusions among Black students sets them up for failure and criminalization.

For some Black students, however, their exclusions have nothing to do with crime at all. Instead, they come from the discriminatory discipline policies that target Black pupils like the banning of black hairstyles, kissing teeth and fist bumps, among other things.

These policies do not only directly impact the education of Black people by kicking them out of school all together, on the basis of cultural identity, but they further the injustice against Black students by giving it an excuse to continue. When the school administration can penalize Black students for their forms of expression, students follow suit in teasing, bullying and discrimination against Black children. In the long run, then, instead of eradicating prejudices, the unfair treatment of Black students perpetuates them.

There is also significant evidence of over policing of Black students in British schools, leading to the adultification of young Black children. The term “adultification” describes a form of prejudice in which children from a minority group are made to seem less innocent based on their racial or ethnic identity.

The over policing of Black students comes as a result of the stereotypes that they are more aggressive, less innocent and the type of people to be protected from instead of the type of people to be protected.

In many cases, police have been found to treat young Black girls in a horrifying manner when called to schools for investigations, strip searching them at such a vulnerable age. It was found that although black Caribbean children make up only 5% of secondary school students, over 17% of strip-search cases are related to them.

The fact that the police and educational institutions are involved in the harmful treatment of Black students means that there is no one at an authoritative level that is taking a step forward in protecting minor Black children the way they should be. Subsequently, the disproportionate rate at which Black students are mistreated continues to skyrocket.

The unjust treatment of Black pupils in the education system means that they are not able to receive the same quality of education as the rest of their classmates. It was found that of all boys aged 15-17 in Youth Offender Institutions, only 50% have literacy rates above the average 7-11 year old.

When they are forced to spend more time worrying about the consequences of displaying their cultural identity or the implications of being treated way older than they actually are, Black students face statistically proven disadvantages. Down the line, Black adults find less job opportunities, are more highly criminalized, and have lower rates of graduation/post-secondary acceptance. 

It is not enough for schools to simply be responsible for teaching students justice. The teachers, staff, environment, curriculum, policies and community will all have to exhibit behaviours that exemplify justice.

Educational institutions will have to take a step forward in the protection of Black children. That means understanding that there are differences in treatment towards Black students that are harmful. That means introducing better policies, race equality teaching for staff and students, ending policing in schools and hiring more Black staff in schools. 

That means that Black children must be seen as children. Black children must be seen as learners. Black children must be seen

We cannot only leave change up to the future, it’s got to start in the present. If education is where the change in our world is going to start, then the change must start with schools.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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I am a student from Ontario, Canada, and an aspiring journalist. I enjoy reading, writing and learning about the world around us - the issues with it and how we can make it a better place.


Hijab-Wearing Muslim Women Face Discrimination in Hiring Practices

Muslim women around the world find themselves in the middle of heated political and social debates, because of their choice to wear the Muslim veil.



muslim woman in workplace

Muslim women around the world find themselves in the middle of heated political and social debates, because of their choice to wear the Muslim veil. Their Hijab is a barrier towards their participation in a western society, not because of any barrier the head covering presents, but because of the discrimination and prejudice surrounding it.

A new report from a group of researchers at the University of Oxford, Utrecht, and Berlin revealed that Muslim women in the Netherlands and Germany are less likely to get hired for high customer-contact jobs if they wear the Hijab. The field experiment also included Spain, where they found less discrimination compared to the other two countries.

In an interview with Analyst News, senior University of Oxford researcher, and co-author of the paper, Mariña Fernández Reino said that the funding and reason for publishing this paper comes from a push from the European commission “to assess and measure discrimination against ethnic minorities.”

The paper reports that the average callback rate for native women in the Netherlands who did not wear the Hijab in their application photo, was around 70%. But for women who did wear the Hijab in their photos the callback rate was only 35%.

For a country like the Netherlands, known as one of the more accommodating nations towards religious minorities, these statistics are concerning. This shows that employers take Hijabi women at face-value, in a country that is normally known for its progressive practices towards people of all backgrounds.

The ongoing politicisation of visible Muslim women has prejudiced people — customers and employees alike — against those that choose to wear the veil. The Netherlands, despite its otherwise progressive stance on religious freedom, has policies in place that discriminate against Muslim women, such as the burqa ban. But the discriminatory practices that have been proven to exist in employment fields further ostracize Muslim women who wear the Hijab from participating in society.

Germany had a similar, albeit, less staggering, difference than the Netherlands: 53% of native German unveiled applicants received a callback for their job applications, whereas the veiled applicants received callbacks at a rate of around 25%.

Khola Hübsch, a German journalist known as the “face of Muslim women” in Germany tells Analyst News that, “In Germany we had public discussions on the hijab for years.”

In these discussions, however, she points out that Hijabi Muslim women were never included themselves. This meant many prejudices were perpetuated through one-sided dialogue. She says, “As a consequence, we had hijab-bans for teachers and public servants.”

Although these bans were later rescinded, they left their impact, ostracising Hijabi women in society — and thus, the workplace.

Spain which was described in the paper as a country with “high competition for jobs in a context of high unemployment” had a 25% average callback rate for non-Hijabi native Spanish women compared to 15.8% for Hijabi applicants.

Reino says that in addition to competition and unemployment, the lack of discussion surrounding the Hijab on a political level in Spain as compared to Germany and the Netherlands could be a reason it didn’t matter much in employers’ decision for callbacks.

The study further looked at the difference in discrimination in callback rates between non-Hijabi Muslim women and Hijabi Muslim women, to see at what extent employers consider the veil as a barrier to a job.

For high-contact jobs, such as front desk reception, the average callback rates among non-Hijabi Muslim women were 42%, 52%, and 14% for the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. These rates are still less compared to the native majority callback rates, perhaps showcasing a general discrimination towards Muslim women.

But for Hijabi women, the callback rates for these jobs were 18% for both the Netherlands and Germany, and 10% for Spain, showing an even greater disparity.

Reino tells Analyst News the logic they put behind the numbers is that human resource officers during the hiring process consider that, “women that wear a Hijab will be seen and contacted by customers.”

Due to negative societal beliefs surrounding the Hijab in countries like the Netherlands and Germany, she says, “customers might discriminate against employees, and thus businesses, so having public Hijabi employees might be considered bad for business.”

Reino says, “The main take of all this discrimination study is that what happens in the labour market reflects what happens in society.”

To change the inequality and discrimination in hiring practices, the change must start at a societal level. The larger anti-Islam narrative in the West must be studied and addressed.

To do that, Hübsch says “It is important to give those a public voice who are affected. Hijab-wearing women must be involved in the debate.”

Both Reino and Hübsch say that in addition to training employers to remove their prejudices, educational work to debunk the myths surrounding Islam and the Hijab must also be implemented.

The change in the labour market will have to be in tandem with the change in society.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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I am a student from Ontario, Canada, and an aspiring journalist. I enjoy reading, writing and learning about the world around us - the issues with it and how we can make it a better place.

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Book Review: Everyone’s invited: A guide to understand everything that’s wrong with the society



Soma Sara Book review about rape culture

In a world filled with violence against women, Soma Sara’s book is a justification on why a movement against rape culture is absolutely necessary in this day and age. ‘Everyone’s Invited’ was first started as a movement by the author when she was 21 years old during the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic. The movement was kick-started by Sara when she posted a series of Instagram stories concerning sexual abuse which revealed a much bigger problem when she started receiving DMs that resonated with the sentiments of the posts. Sara received so many statements and testimonies through Instagram when she decided to start a website where everyone is invited to talk about their experiences concerning sexual assaults, abuse, harassment and even rape. As testimonies and support from survivors kept on pouring the movement took off in 2020 which helped in creating some real changes in the form of new policies and laws to keep teenagers and women safe in the society.

Everyone’s Invited as a movement strives to tackle those traditions, behaviours and beliefs that normalise rape culture by allowing misogyny, rape jokes, abuse grow in a space which is detrimental to the progress of women. Sara’s stories opened the Pandora’s Box on schools in UK where such behaviours and attitudes grow at an alarming rate. The momentum created by the movement helped policy makers engage with schools and Universities in creating new guidelines thereby asking all universities to review their sexual misconduct and harassment policies by summer 2021. It also prompted the launch of NSPCC helpline for survivors of abuse in education.

Sara’s book is different in a way in understanding rape culture because she has portrayed the different root causes that could be the reason why such a culture exists even now. Unchecked patriarchy and toxic masculinity are some of the key words the author mentions in her book. However, Soma goes a little bit further in identifying one of the root causes as pornography. In one of the chapters, Sara elaborates how pornography is ruining everyone’s sexual expectations due to performance exaggeration  and how it influences the minds of young boys and men to use violence on women if their needs are not according to what they have seen on the screen.

Another important reason that Sara highlights is institutional patriarchy which allows for inbred sexism among females from a young age. The author mentions that the fact where women are told to bear pain is one of the reasons why so many cases go unreported because pain sometimes gets associated with shame. Sara points out that if women are made aware of their rights or taught from a young age that there is no need to bear the brunt of the uncomfortable actions of men with a smile, a change is inevitable.

Sara also points out that men must be made aware of how disrupting their actions can be on a woman’s life. Again she says that this awareness must be instilled in young boys so that they can grow up to become responsible adults with empathy and kindness. 

The unique factor of the book is that it also covers the struggles faced by the author due to the movement which she founded. Sara was faced with allegations that the work she is doing in promoting awareness about rape culture will cause harm to the lives of boys because they cannot be ‘boys’ anymore.  The book not only aims at creating awareness regarding rape culture but also provides the readers with solutions to combat the same. Sara’s statements in the book are backed with abundant research and resources that one could use to understand rape culture better. Therefore Sara’s book can be summed up as a starter guide to understand the Everyone’s Invited movement and the importance the testimonies submitted holds in understanding rape culture which is like a weed in this world, that is, if unchecked, has the potential to disrupt lives. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Kiwi Farms: Far right extremist website blocked over harassment

Kiwi Farms, an internet forum that facilitates online discussion and harassment particularly of neurodiverse and trans personalities, came under scrutiny for doxing people.



kiwi farms

Earlier this month Kiwi Farms, an internet forum that facilitates online discussion and harassment particularly of neurodiverse and trans personalities, came under scrutiny for doxing people. Notably it targeted a trans Twitch streamer, Clara Sorrenti who as a result had to flee the country. At first, the content delivery network Cloudflare, refused to stop providing its services. However, after a while, on 3rd September Cloudflare stopped protecting the website.

Sorrenti was just one of the victims of this far-right website that caused at least three suicides. Kiwi Farms was launched in 2009 as CWCki dedicated to referencing the online presence of Christine Weston Chandler aka Chris Chan aka Sonichu.  It officially changed its name in 2015 and soon gained a lot of popularity. The format of the website is simple – identify a victim, label them a “lolcow” – an online slang term for someone who can be exploited and made fun out of – and then stalk them to the point of harassment.

Some recent victims of the trolling website:

The far-right Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene became a target of this website when she became a victim of a swatting incident. In this, a fake call was made to the authorities to bring them to her house in August of this year.  

A caller connected to Kiwi Farms called police officers and told them that a man was shot five times in a bathtub at the address of Greene. According to the police report, the police later received a computer-generated call that stated she was targeted because of her stance on “transgender youth’s rights.”

In response, Greene stated: “There should be no business or any kind of service where you can target your enemy. That’s absolutely absurd.”

In late August, there was a bomb threat at the Boston Children’s Hospital after which they had to contact the authorities. The threat was anonymous but luckily no bomb was found.  The hospital was attacked for providing gender-affirming hysterectomies to children. The bomb threat resulted after a week-long cyber-attack on the hospital as one statement read:

“(the hospital) has been the target of a large volume of hostile internet activity, phone calls, and harassing emails including threats of violence toward our clinicians and staff. We are deeply concerned by these attacks on our clinicians and staff fueled by misinformation and a lack of understanding and respect for our transgender community.”

Children’s National Hospital in Washington DC was also subjected to similar harassment for the same reasons. As a result, the hospital had to release a statement.

The Trevor Project’s Hotline is meant to help LGBTQ+ kids who are battling suicidal thoughts. The users of Kiwi Farms tried to clog up the hotline with fake calls in late August so that the real kids could not access it.  They failed to succeed but the Kiwi Farms website was filled with users proud of what they had done.

The most recent victim was Clare Sorrenti who opened the door to a barrel of a gun pointing at her face on September 5th. The police were called to her house by Kiwi Farm users in a swatting incident after months-long harassment.

She was accused of sending violent emails to local politicians which led to her being arrested temporarily. As a result, she and her fiancé moved to a local hotel only to be doxed again after the users found the hotel by a picture that she posted of her cat sitting on the bed.

Realizing the severity of the situation, she moved to Northern Island to evade the stalking and harassment. However, the users again found her in no time and hacked her family members’ mobile phones. This stalking was made worse because she fought back instead of backing down and crowdfunded around $100,000 to “seek justice and make sure something like this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

She also created a trending Twitter hashtag “#DropKiwiFarms” which was joined by her fans as well as the Anti-Defamation League.

Interference of Cloudflare

Cloudflare is a company that provides security by warding off DDoS attacks and keeping hackers at bay. The company has been under scrutiny for protecting Kiwi Farms but this is not the only controversial website they provided security to. The company also protected the Daily Stormer and 8chan, both websites that were closed down.  

Without Cloudflare, the website could be attacked by hackers and shut down before it leads to a bigger incident. The company refused to stop providing services to this controversial website by stating:

“Just as the telephone company doesn’t terminate your line if you say awful, racist, bigoted things, we have concluded in consultation with politicians, policymakers, and experts that turning off security services because we think what you publish is despicable is the wrong policy.”

A while later, on September 4th, the company did decide to terminate its services to Kiwi Farms for “unprecedented emergency and immediate threat to human life”.

However, similar sites that are dedicated to doxing people still exist such as The imageboard which has been around since at least 2014, and the Pretty Ugly Little Liar forum which started in 2015 and still exists.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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“Log kya kahenge?”: Is colonialism to blame for the rise in honour killings and honour culture in the South Asian community?

Family reputation has huge implications for many South Asian families and is regarded as a very precious asset.



Honor Killing

“Log kya kahenge?” or “What will people say?” in Urdu and Hindi is a common enough phrase heard by many South Asians.  No doubt Sania Khan, a Pakistani American may also have had to hear this too many times before she was murdered by her ex-husband whilst going through a divorce. Khan, 29 left her bad marriage as she felt unsafe with her husband due to his long-standing mental health issues. She shared her experience on TikTok recalling how “going through a divorce as a South Asian woman feels like you failed at life sometimes”. However, on 18th July 2022 her ex-husband shot her in the head then shot himself.  Sadly, Sania Khan was pronounced dead at the scene.

But why has there been a rise in honour killings in the South Asian community and why is this toxic honour “culture” so important?  Family reputation has huge implications for many South Asian families and is regarded as a very precious asset.  Analyst News spoke to psychoanalyst Shukriya Mahat about how honour is all about abiding by family rules. “Honour is the highest level of integrity you have.  When you are born into a family you have to abide by a certain set of rules and principles that come with that family, so you end up carrying a name of a family, you are not yourself.” That is exactly how the families of honour victims Sania Khan, Qandeel Baloch and Shafilea Ahmed viewed their daughters. For some South Asian families they are more than willing to kill one of their own when they do not abide by these “rules” to preserve their family’s honour.

“For women in the South Asian community, they gain respectability if they get married as their name becomes attached to a male,” says Neha Gill, executive director of Apna Ghar, a Chicago-based human rights organisation working to end gender-based violence. It offers services to predominantly South Asian women facing intimate partner abuse. Gill told Analyst News that divorced women still carry the stigma of unrespectability within the community – they begin to symbolise sexual impurity, leading to their shaming and shunning.  The definition of what a “respectable woman” is, continues to be used today, because the community is obsessed with creating a woman who is the “marriageable type”.

Gill goes on to say, “Women like Sania Khan are not trusted to make their own decision of leaving a marriage or not” because, she believes, they are not trusted to uphold their family’s honour. “Many women are expected to ‘compromise’ in their marriage, and this can mean many women are expected to tolerate abusive behaviours solely to preserve honour.  That is why we find when abuse victims leave their marriage, that is when the most homicides occur as the abuser loses power and control over their honour,” she explains.

According to the Sri Lankan author and activist Kumari Jayawaradena, the idea of “respectability” is a throwback to colonial times when missionaries who settled in India and Sri Lanka claimed they were bringing “salvation and the light of true faith”.  By trying to convert the native populations, the Christians created female missionaries in schools with the aim of providing  “good Christian wives and mothers” for male converts to uphold the principles set out in the Bible. A family’s honour was tied to whether their daughter was ‘sexually pure’. Thus rules for what a ‘respectable’ woman was, were rooted in fundamentalist Biblical ideas of abstinence before marriage and sexual purity.  But Gill opines that colonialism probably made an already deeply patriarchal society even worse and compounded women’s low status.  Indeed when missionaries were first placed in schools in India and Sri Lanka during British rule it was difficult to persuade parents to send their daughters to school as ‘reading and writing were not considered to be traits of a female’.

Gill explains how the culture is steeped in patriarchy. From the beginning of someone’s life “we praise a woman if she gives birth to a boy but then wishes them to receive a boy ‘next time’ if they give birth to a baby girl.”  Unfortunately this attitude still exists today.   A recent study found that there would be 6.8 million fewer female births recorded across India by 2030 because of sex selective abortions, where a baby is more likely to be aborted if it’s female. This cultural preference exists and is perpetuated through the generations, as a boy means he’s more likely to earn and become a breadwinner and girls are just seen as a “burden from day one” because someone needs to provide for them.  And if you’re unlucky enough to have a girl, then the onus is to ensure she’s of a “marriageable type” so she can be married off as soon as she’s of age.

But why are these blatant discriminatory practices perpetuated today?  Psychoanalyst Mahat believes that the patriarchal system continues to be upheld by the older generation which “instils these rules because for many of their generation, honour is much more important than life.” The problem then becomes that the community is stuck in a constant cycle of successive generations being taught that these backward-looking, paternalistic standards are the cultural norm.

Is there any way to stop this vicious cycle, change attitudes and restore women’s status? Shukriya Mahat feels one way to cut through is education.  She suggests that by simply teaching younger generations that there is no shame in getting a divorce if marriage does not work out and setting better examples for them to follow would be a huge breakthrough. “However, re-educating South Asian adults can be the hardest challenge when they have been taught all their life to abide by these rules,” she says. But it will be women who have suffered at the hands of their partners, who will likely have the courage and agency needed to change the cultural mindset into one which truly values the fairer sex.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

‘Stateless and homeless’ – 5 years of Rohingya mass exodus

Nearly one million Rohingya continue to live under squalid conditions in refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazaar and Bhasan Char in Bangladesh, uncertain about their future.



Rohingya displaced Muslims 09

Five years have passed since Myanmar’s military operation against Rohingya Muslims, driving 740,000 refugees into neighbouring Bangladesh. Nearly one million Rohingya continue to live under squalid conditions in refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazaar and Bhasan Char in Bangladesh, uncertain about their future.

August of this year marked the fifth year of the ferocious military operation carried out against the Rohingya Muslim minority in  2017. The state-backed ethnic cleansing in Rakhine saw thousands raped, burnt and killed.

The 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Myanmar are further subjected to systemic oppression and abuse. 130,000 of them are living in internal displacement camps, where they are confined, denied freedom of movement, access to good healthcare and education. Following the military-seized control in the February 2021 coup, conditions of Rohingya in detained camps have become extremely vulnerable. As per reports, 28,000 Rohingyans were left in unfit camps posing ‘life threatening risks’.

According to a United Nations report, the military operations in 2017 were carried out with ‘genocidal intent’. The Myanmar military’s attacks, which lasted weeks, executed targeted killing, sexual violence and the burning of Rohingya houses. Later, in March 2022, the U.S. State Department formally declared the situation as genocide.

Over the years, Myanmar government has strategically stripped  the Rohingyan Muslim minority of their citizenship status. Though challenged by historians, Myanmar’s leadership generally maintains the Rohingya community to be descendants from India and Bangladesh. Under the 1982 Citizenship law, Rohingya were denied citizenship, making them one of the world’s largest stateless population. The ethnic-based Citizenship law leaves Rohingya with no legal protection or fundamental rights.

Muhammad Hussein, a 65 year old who fled Myanmar during the attacks says, “My heart longs for our repatriation to Myanmar. Today, we have no country of our own despite being human. We are requesting the world to help us live as humans. My wish is to have rights, and peace.”

As five years pass by, the Rohingya remain in a stateless purgatory awaiting justice and their rights. The international community needs to make a concerted effort to charge the grave crimes committed by the military against the minority. The Human Rights Watch recommends that “the UN Security Council should end its inaction borne of anticipated vetoes by China and Russia and urgently pass a resolution that institutes a global arms embargo on Myanmar, refers the military’s grave crimes to the International Criminal Court, and imposes targeted sanctions on the junta and military-owned conglomerates.”

Furthermore, governments need to impose restrictions on the funding of Myanmar’s military, primarily the gas revenues totalling around US$1 billion in annual profits. Global communities need to support the case filed by Gambia against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice in 2019 to hold the military accountable for its crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocidal acts.

Described as “the most persecuted minority in the world” by United Nations; Rohingyas live

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Kibera – How the citizens of the biggest slum in Africa live: “We have tea, but we don’t put milk because that is expensive.”

“Government are politicians and I think you know what politicians are. They just promise you something and at the end of the day, that thing ends in vain….. If you come and see Kibera, you will know that what I am telling you is true. It has not improved, even though we have interacted with the government and dialogued with them since. They don’t help us, they just promise us.”



Kibera Nairobi Kenya slums shanty town October 2008

William Samoi Ruto was officially sworn in to the post of president of Kenya last week, a country which he consistently branded as the ‘hustler nation’ throughout his lavishly funded campaign trail, but exactly what is the cost and struggle of that hustle in reality, especially in Kibera – one of the world’s biggest slums?

It was a pale Sunday morning at the parking lot of Kenya’s Supreme Court and the weekly Maasai Market was in full swing. Every Sunday, sellers of traditional handmade items, such as paintings, clothing, jewellery, and other decorative and practical items spread their wares across the area granted them for a fee-in front of the most important building in Kenya’s justice system. It was here that Ruto’s win was brought into question as opposition candidate and political veteran Raila Odinga- who has tried and failed for the presidency five times- filed a petition at the court questioning the validity of the results. As has happened too many times in living memory, foul play was alleged in the tallying up of votes, but last week after a lengthy battle in the courtroom, chief justice Martha Koome announced the verdict that ostensibly wiped clean Ruto’s past slate of run ins with the International Criminal Court.

But here, in this makeshift moveable market, the atmosphere is much removed from the suited and booted elitism of the country’s judicial and political circles.  I come across a seller willing to talk; Daniel, in his forties, who has been selling earrings and brass items for twenty years. The Sunday market is his weekly stint. Talking about the process, he takes me through the dazzling display’s humble beginnings.

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Daniel displaying his handmade jewellery

“These earrings are made from bone; cow and camel bone,” he tells me, as he stands holding out his handmade display case upon which glitter hundreds of pieces of carefully crafted jewellery.

“The bones we buy from the slaughterhouse, one kilo costs 150 (Kenyan) shillings. Then we take them to the workshop, we shape them according to the sizes with that we want to make earrings, necklaces and bangles.”

Some of the earrings have beautiful white patterns glaring out from the black. Those too have been painstakingly created by Daniel himself.

“This black and white pattern you can see, it is being produced as a result of; we boil the bone with sodium peroxide to make it white. It removes the fats. After it has removed the fat, it becomes white, then we put it in the potassium permanganate, we sit down with it, take a candle, a stove and paraffin. Then we dot the bone with candle wax, dip it in potassium permanganate so it becomes black and where you have put the candle wax, it remains white.”

Daniel does all this in his workshop, located near his home in Kibera, the largest slum in East Africa. He rents his home- made of corrugated iron sheets- which was built, he tells me, forty years back.

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Corrugated iron house in Kibera, photo credit: Ismail Kishoma 

“The government has been saying they will upgrade Kibera houses since 2013, up to today they have not upgraded. “

I ask him more about his skills; he also melts and makes jewellery and items out of brass.

“I melt down the brass into any form the customer wants, like for example a triangle. There is someone who taught me to do this, in Kibera. It costs me 20 shillings to make a pair of earrings, without the brass. With the brass, it costs me 50. For now, I sell at 70 shillings for a pair. If someone buys one, I can sell for 100 shillings, those who buy a lot I can give them a wholesale price. I do this selling three days a week- then I’m working at the workshop rest of the week, making them. Tuesday is Kijabe Street.”

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Daniel’s earrings, made from cow and camel bone

President Ruto talked much about his early days selling chickens by the roadside, making his rags to riches story the centre of his bid for president, in stark juxtaposition to Raila Odinga’s old moneyed background-his father fought for the country’s independence from the British and went onto serve as the first Vice President . But hearing the daily struggles of people like Daniel, it is hard to imagine that someone now in the echelons of power can understand the struggle of the everyday hustle. For the truth is, Daniel is not an anomaly in Kenya, nor is he one of the worst cases; poverty remains a pervasive problem as 16 million Kenyans are considered poor and out of these 8.9 million live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than 130 shillings a day. That translates to roughly $1. Daniel pays 1000 shillings for rent at the Sunday market and explains the volatile nature of his work.

 “In one day, sometimes you can end up without getting anything, so in a business in one day you can even get 10,000. You have to save a little, so if we don’t sell, you have enough money to cater for your children. “

And it is the latter that he has a full house of- a wife and eight children, including those of his elder brother’s who has passed away. His eldest is in high school, while the youngest is merely four years old. Being the sole breadwinner in the family, Daniel has to calculate the income he receives from his business towards feeding his family and paying school fees; the money he receives from selling jewellery is his sole income.

“This is my only job. For one day, it costs 700 shillings to feed us all. We have breakfast, lunch, and supper. For breakfast, 300 shillings is enough for the family; I can buy two loaves of bread, 140 shillings per loaf. We have tea with that but we don’t put milk because that is expensive.”

For lunch they have Sukuma Wiki, the Swahili name for collard greens that are a staple of the local diet, both cheap and easy to find.

“And for supper, we take the small fish, omena, and cabbage. That’s enough for the day.”

And that’s enough to keep the children well fed?

Daniel shrugs in reply. “Even if they are not full, life goes on.”

Ruto promised as part of his election pledges to bring down the cost of living that has seen everyday staple food items like Ugali, or Maize meal double in price within the space of a few months. Says Daniel, “Government are politicians and I think you know what politicians are. They just promise you something and at the end of the day, that thing ends in vain….. If you come and see Kibera, you will know that what I am telling you is true. It has not improved, even though we have interacted with the government and dialogued with them since. They don’t help us, they just promise us.”

He talks about the poor sanitation at Kibera, especially the toilets, “In the slums, where I live, there is no toilet, you have to walk maybe a kilometre to go for the toilet. Elsewhere in Kibera there are toilets but already the place is congested, people are scrambling for the houses, so where there is space, you need to build a house, the toilet comes afterwards.”

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Kibera, photo credit: Ismail Kishoma 

Although life is hard both within and outside of Kibera, Daniel tells me he has seen so many people fall ill by drinking dirty water, the only water available to them- it is not handouts, such as the 6000 package promised by Raila Odinga in his manifesto, which he is asking for[A1] .

“Opportunity is the best, not money, not welfare. Because with money, you can give it to me today, but not tomorrow. However, that opportunity to sell, that is very important. I have people to look after, my children and my brother’s orphans. To a mall we cannot go because they ask for a lot of money for rent, which we cannot afford.”

Here in the parking lot, overshadowed by the Supreme Court in which rich men compete for seats of power, is what Daniel can afford. Although, he tells me he has tried other avenues before.

“I used to sell to a company in Kibera, it collapsed because of Covid, the management was not good and because of the middlemen between us. You cannot talk directly to the customer, but here I am talking to you, and we had to pay them too. We had someone who took a lot more than we artists take. So that is where the challenge is. It’s been a year since I worked for them because the payment was so low.”

Daniel’s sentiments are echoed by another resident of Kibera who talked to me later over the phone. Ismail Kishoma, 31, explained the struggles that residents, especially the youth, faced everyday as residents of Kibera. The first and foremost was unemployment. He said, there is a significant lack of opportunity, and discrimination because of the low income background of potential workers. Despite going to school, he told me that 60% to 70% of them were unemployed and most were dropouts from school due to the inability to continue paying school fees because of high poverty levels.

“I can honestly say the government has done really little to address the issue of unemployment. If the government was serious enough, we have so many young talented men who can do plumbing, welding, mechanics. It is very difficult for a youth to get a job in Nairobi. Some of those who have finished universities but they are still at home, highly qualified but not employed. Those who are employed are very few, but the jobs they are doing are manual labour; most of the women are maids, most of the men are doing security guards in rich places in Nairobi, others are doing masonry.”

Ismail is a good case in point of the hardworking nature and talent of the youth of Kenya; he has a diploma in banking and finance from Mount Kenya university. His father is a deputy teacher at Kibera primary school while his mother owns a small bookshop, so it was possible for them to pay for his school fees. His religious community also helped. According to him, there is no dearth of talent or hard work in Kibera.

“People of Kibera are hard working. You wake up at four and see so many women going to market to buy boga (vegetables), to purchase cloth so they come back to sell. All they need is a little support from the government. Women have business ideas and are struggling because they just need capital to start off their businesses. Many youths have gone down the road of drugs and theft, and this is brought about by unemployment …Everything comes down to one thing, that they need that opportunity, they need to be employed, they need that exposure. I think they (government and employers) should not side-line those people who are coming from the slum but they should be a first priority on the government agenda, because they come from a poor society and informal settlements.”

Talking about Odinga’s promised welfare package and Ruto’s promises to halt and reverse the skyrocketing cost of living, he says,

“Politicians in Kenya, everyone knows they know how to sweet talk people but when you come to the ground nothing has been done. Inadequate housing, poor drainage, we don’t have a government hospital. The clinics here are private or run by charitable organisations…. Raila Odinga has been MP for so long, he was Prime Minister… Kibera residents are still waiting. His promised package of 6000 per month, that’s not enough- a parent has water, electricity fees, school fees to think about, and then on top of that, ongoing inflation in the country.”

On the mood in the country now, Ismail says, “People are hopeful that something will happen. Others know nothing will. According to the politics of Kenya people vote for their tribe.  Tribalism plays a major role, which comes about because of poverty. It doesn’t help in anything. People just vote for him who is in their tribe, not because they are qualified for office.”

It is painstakingly obvious then, that the hustle on the ground as seen by Daniel and Ismail is miles away from the struggles of William Samoi Ruto who remembers as a dream his schoolboy days selling chickens by the roadside and now boasts of having 200,000 chickens at his own poultry farm. He sits and makes pacts with giants in Kenyan politics, dodges charges levelled at him by international courts, and helps the country’s inflation soar along with his fellow presidential candidates by spending extravagantly on election campaigns. Thus is the hustle of Ruto, but the question is, can his struggle serve as a moving force for the hustle of the people he has been chosen by to govern?

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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