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Tom Mboya: The Kenyan Activist Turned Politician Fighting Corruption

Tom Mboya is a civil-society activist, writer and politician. He is the chairman of the Democratic Congress (DC), a new party that aims to change the political culture in Kenya and to put citizens at the centre of that process.

He also runs the blog All Things Kenya ~ Public Affairs in Kenya where he discusses politics, corruption and leadership in Kenya and beyond. As a freelance governance consultant, Tom has consulted with parliaments across Africa related to constitutional reform, anti-corruption reform and institutional capacity building.

Tom is also the chairman of the board of Karengata Youth Soccer Academy.

What are the practical ways ordinary young citizens can fight corruption?

Too often, we see corruption as the misappropriation of large sums of money and NOT the day-to-day instances of ‘petty’ corruption that we encounter. This is misleading! Corruption is most often perpetrated by ordinary citizens. Thus, the key to fighting corruption also lies with the citizens coming together.

Ordinary young citizens must be the catalyst in order to ‘just say NO’ to corruption.

Ordinary young citizens can fight corruption by ensuring that they do not in any way participate in or perpetuate any corrupt transaction. While it is often easier to part with a small sum of money to expedite a transaction, secure a public service, or even bribe a policeman, it is in so doing that we lay the foundation for much grander corruption.

Ordinary young citizens must be the catalyst in order to ‘just say NO’ to corruption, in all its manifestations, so as to begin to turn the tide on a scourge that is ravaging the continent.

Do you feel positive about the future of Kenya and its role on the continent?

I feel very positive about the future of Kenya and our role on the continent. Despite the myriad challenges we are facing, as a country we continue to forge ahead, buoyed by the immense promise of our number one resource: our people.

I feel positive about the future of Kenya because the resilience and fortitude of our people have seen us overcome numerous challenges in the past.

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Kenya must continue to actively play a leadership role on the continent.

Many still lie ahead; that much is clear! I have no doubt in my mind that if we are able to face these challenges as an united people, no obstacle is insurmountable. It is, however, important to not bury our heads in the sand. Challenges we face must be confronted head on: as this is what will define us as a people, as well as inform the direction the country will ultimately take.

Kenya must continue to actively play a leadership role on the continent. It is not by accident that we find ourselves in such a position but we must recognise that with such a role comes tremendous responsibility. I am confident that Kenya will continue to show leadership in addressing those issues that most affect the continent, such as the fight against terror. It is my sincere hope that will be able to take concrete steps towards dealing with the scourge of corruption and thus chart a path that other African countries can follow.

Who’s your African of the year?

My African of the year is Kennedy Odede. Though Kennedy was raised in Kibera, one of the world’s largest and most well-known slums, he never allowed that to stand in the way of becoming a dreamer and an achiever. Most importantly, he identified the path to addressing urban poverty, particularly in the environment in which he was raised: girls!

Recognising that the education and empowerment of young girls had the most potential of significantly reducing poverty, Kennedy founded Shining Hope For Communities (SHOFCO) and has gone on to become one of the world’s foremost social entrepreneurs, winning numerous awards and accolades along the way!

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