Hawkers Diaries: I paid my way through college as a street vendor yet here I remain

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 21- Before we started our interview with Samson Mwangi at his hawking base of operations, he was very categorical that we must first help him in, “getting a job since I got skills. I know Media is powerful so you people can help me.”

Mwangi joined the hawking populace of Nairobi immediately after acquiring his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education, hoping it would have been a stepping stone to a brighter future.

Mwangi is now a diploma holder in the course and while he believe that he can work as a site manager; he has applied for tenders at both National and County level, but he says he is yet to be successful.

“Not even a communication on what I could be lacking for now three years,” Mwangi told.

Last year alone, he says he applied for 120 tenders though they did not sail through, creating a perfect picture of how just bad the problem of unemployment and perhaps patronage is.

It is a fact that a section of hawkers are learned and are just part of thousands of other trained professionals who are jobless in the country.

“My family is fed entirely by these streets.”

He has applied for the Youth Enterprise Development Fund through a company he registered together with his colleagues, hawkers, to no fruition.

“To get an opportunity in this country, it seems you have to know someone; we are suffering,” he said.

It is worth noting that on paper, it is a Jubilee government policy that 30 per cent of tenders go to special interest groups; among them youth.

“The tenders were meant for us but it seems the rich has (sic) once again stolen what is ours.”

Bureaucracy could be a major undoing for youths applying for tenders besides other shortcomings that include corruption, according to Mwangi.

For now, he remains ready to battle it out with the County Askaris and pay bribes to secure his freedom when arrested.

“If we are given space to operate in at least a few days of the week set up just like what happens to the Maasai market, then our problems will have been addressed,” he said.


First Published by Capital FM.

19 November, 2016

The Campaign to Decriminalise Poverty and Status is a coalition of organisations from across the world that advocate for the repeal of laws that target people based on poverty, status or for their activism.


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