Is Ole Lenku the Dumbest Secretary in the Cabinet? | Questions arising from the Nyumba Kumi Initiative

One of the reasons why Kenyans voted for the new constitution during the 2010 constitution referendum was because of the separation it made between elected MPs and cabinet secretaries (back then known as ministers). We saw it as the best way of ensuring that the appointed cabinet secretaries, who would then be vetted by the legislature, would be fully qualified for the job and appointed due to their meritocracy. This would have put an end to the old days when ministerial posts were used as rewards to the winning party’s unmerited political cronies. It would have ensured efficiency in the running of government affairs. Many foresaw a situation where we could have easily blitzed past the 2015 global Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) and swiftly meandered our way towards accomplishing the Kenya Vision 2030 sometime even before 2030! Ole wetu! Or should I probably say Ole Lenku! (It’s the new exclamation in Nairobi denoting regrets of a higher magnitude). Anyway, don’t blame for having been optimistic. We all get delusional at times, don’t we?

Are we this screwed up?

Last year’s presidential elections marked the end of the old government ministerial system and ushered in the new system. A gentleman going by the name of Joseph Ole Lenku got nominated for the post of Interior Security cabinet secretary. He was apparently vetted by the parliamentarians and found to be up to task. Then came Love quotes which placed the spotlight squarely on Ole Lenku, the confused press statements, the ugly public pokes on his intellectualism and then the whole issue seemed to simmer off.

But from the Nyumba Kumi Community Policing Initiative, it is clear that the good ol’ Ole Lenku still has a slice of his idiosyncratic ingenuity stuck somewhere up his sleeve.

What is the Nyumba Kumi Initiative and Why I believe it is a Waste of Time In Kenya

The Nyumba Kumi Initiative is a community policing system that is more popular, and very successful, I should add, In Tanzania. Under the concept, households are grouped into clusters of 10. Each cluster has a leader who the other households report to if they notice anything untoward going on in the neighborhood. Any stranger joining the neighborhood is also required to report and make himself known to the Nyumba Kumi leader. The leader then forwards the information to immigration officials and the police.

The Nyumba Kumi concept works very well in Tanzania for two principal reasons.

  1. Tanzanians are more disciplined than Kenyans
  2. History of socialism in Tanzania made a good foundation for the initiative.


5 Reasons Why the Nyumba Kumi Initiative Will Never Work in Kenya

  1. Corruption

Kenyans are neck-deep leprous with corruption. In fact, corruption has already been named as a major contributing factor in the Westgate Mall terrorist attack and if the Nyumba Kumi initiative is the government’s idea of beefing up security to avoid another Westgate, then I am sorry but we must start readying ourselves for another Westgate.

  1. Community Policing Has Always been There in Rural Kenya

How does the Interior Security ministry propose to make Nyumba Kumi work in crowded neighborhoods such as Kibera and Korogocho? The truth is that the initiative will never work in urban areas and slums. Ole Lenku is also not telling you that our rural areas already have community policing, have been having it since time immemorial. In essence, Nyumba Kumi offers nothing new. It is idle chitchat.

  1. Nyumba Kumi is an Unnecessary Breach of Privacy

I love to be left alone, especially by my neighbors. That’s just how I like it, and nothing else will do. Nyumba Kumi or no Nyumba Kumi. This initiative will be a great breach of privacy more so in the affluent neighborhoods where households want to live a more secluded life. If you know anything about terrorists, then you will also know that they don’t live in Mukuru kwa Njenga, and that tells us a lot.

  1. Ndiakagwo ta ya Wakini

Mhh. I just had to use my native language there. What that means is that you what works in your neighbor’s house may not necessarily work in yours. In this case, Nyumba Kumi has worked in Tanzania but it won’t necessarily work in Kenya.

  1. The Nyumba Kumi Initiative Stinks of Organized Gangs

Honestly, this Nyumba Kumi thing reminds me of the era of Mungiki where certain neighborhoods were forced to pay protection fees. Do you think the Nyumba Kumi initiative will work in Kenya. Leave your comments as we try to brainstorm the way forward.


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Patrick Mahinge

Patrick Mahinge is a prolific digital marketer and "serial webpreneur". He runs multiple profitable niche websites and blogs monetized through affiliate marketing and advertising. Patrick generously shares his expertise in affiliate marketing, blogging, and online business through his Facebook group of over 5,000 aspiring entrepreneurs.

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