Youth in Nessuit sign a Peace agreement before 2022 general elections.

A joint Youth, Bodaboda and security team peace agreement sees cessation of violence by youth in the 2022 general elections in Nessuit.

The Boda-boda sector, being the fastest growing industry, has always been considered violent and uncontrollable groups of youthful rogues which politicians normally use as goons for hire to cause mayhem during elections. They are known to be amplifiers of toxic messages by opposing political camps against each other and executors of violence of any kind, including Gender Based Violence and sexual assault.  In March, the entire Nation was treated to unspeakable shame and shock after a ghastly public sexual attack on a woman along Wangari Mathai road Nairobi. One Zachariah Nyaora Obadia, a Boda boda operator, who was identified as the mastermind of the gang that sexually harassed the female motorist was arrested by the police in the incidence that sparked a National wide crackdown on boda boda operators, where more than 200 bodaboda operators were arrested and 913 motorcycles seized in relation to the case. In Njoro sub county, residents believe that Boda boda operators easily condone violence because they thrive for short term financial gain. Due to lack of proper policies to govern bodaboda operators, they often feel harassed and hated by the government. The strained relationship between bodaboda operators is a vulnerability that politicians take advantage of.

Realizing the vulnerability posed to these groups, Peace Ambassadors from the PBLD Njoro cohort in consultation with Midrift, organized for a security enlightening forum at chief’s camp in Nessuit ward with the aim of bringing together youth, boda boda operators and security agencies to commit to peaceful coexistence before, during and after elections. More than 200 youths and bodaboda operators made the pledge to maintain peace and destruct political leaders from using them to cause violence owing to the fact that among the six wards in Njoro sub-County, Nessuit ward is perceived as a violent prone area.

 In their endeavor to shift the narrative from supporting violence to enacting tolerance the PBLD Cohort narrated how mindset shift has helped them realize the need to embrace collective action for collective impact at personal, professional, interpersonal and wider place. The team acknowledged that the Boda Boda sector is a force to reckon with, and their involvement in the peace building process is critical. “As a cohort, we deemed it fit to create awareness and encourage the Boda Boda sector to be part of the peace building process. We have been empowered enough, we have realized our power and authority as leaders in our different sectors, and we want to let them know that they too, can become change agents by influencing their sectors positively, and that their past experiences must not determine how they see the world,” A team lead shared.

The youths signed an agreement reaffirming the cessation of hostilities and constant ethnic, political and resource conflicts, retaliatory attacks, backlash and bitterness among boda boda operators in Njoro who are known to be the most abused sector by politicians who only use them for their own political mileage. At the event, the riders vowed to reject petty offers from politicians who use them to cause mayhem, to execute violence and amplify hate messages during elections.  During the signing of the peace accord, there were confessions of looming election violence where some bodaboda operators were already threatening to attack their colleagues from different tribes and political divisions. The affirmation epitomized a peaceful election period during the concluded 2022 general elections where no youth was used by political leaders and thus a peaceful campaign and election process in Nessuit ward.