Monday, August 11, 2008


Kenya is globally reputed as an athletic country with most of the runners emerging from Eldoret town. Before the post election violence there was an evident rapid growth of the infrastructure and business. Much of this is attributed to the principal of Urban-Rural investment, the spirit nurtured by our athletes. Eldoret town could only be compared to Nairobi Metropolitan City in terms of development; even economists prophesied that it was likely to emerge as a hub of socio-economic activities in Africa. All these prospects were shattered by the political upheavals in the town that witnessed potential investors change course.

With the signing of the peace accord between the President and the Prime Minister, life seemed to return to normalcy in most parts of the country. However, the simmering discord between certain communities within town based on the resettlement process has held so many programmes at ransom. For instance, businesses are on their knees. Small traders cannot move on with life. The municipal authorities have determined the type of business to be carried out on the streets consequently locking out many ordinary business people from making their daily bread. The survivors have resorted to maize-roast that is thriving late in the evening after the municipal authorities have vacated the town and estates.

Uasin Gishu being a maize growing region already has the first harvests ready for sale. Retail traders traverse the villages collecting maize cobs at an average of five Kenyan shillings each (about 65 shillings to the dollar). After roasting the maize to a golden appearance, it is sold at a maximum of 10 to 15 shillings depending on the size of the maize cob. It’s exciting to see Kenyans queuing for a cob on a first-come first-served basis. One would be surprised that about eighty percent of travelers in a Matatu would be enjoying a hot nicely roasted maize cob on their way home. I sought to find out from Mama Mahindi why she has fully immersed herself in the maize business; “Most of my customers have changed their appetite from fruits due to the prices and cold weather; they prefer maize because they are cheap and fresh from the farm. This enables me to make quick profits without paying unnecessary taxes to the municipality.” With the rainy season at the door, she is afraid that her business will be adversely affected leaving her with few options on how to raise her young ones.

I have a deep seated conviction that once the political feuds subsides, the Eldoret Municipality will loosen its policies to allow small traders to carry out their businesses in order that they may support their kin. With free trade going on, money will exchange hands and youth will be self employed. This is the path that will enable Eldoret municipality to regain its glory and momentum as a fastest growing town in the region. With many tourist attractions including the Great Rift Valley, tourists are likely to flood into the town, consequently improving the country’s economy. Kenya can only achieve its vision 2030 when all Kenyans own the vision and actively contribute towards the process. I therefore submit that with political stability in Eldoret, all communities will coexist again and businesses will flourish including the smallest trader, Mama Mahindi.

by Simon M Mudi
Youth Leader, Eldoret.

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