Siasa Place is a youth founded and youth led political hub and co-working space that aims to provide an enabling environment for women and youth mainstreaming into our body politic. The word ‘Siasa’ meaning politics is always connoted negatively by women and youth who often shy away from it. Siasa Place seeks to inculcate, ideological and issue based politics in Kenya that is aligned to the citizenry’s aspirations. As an organization we are of the opinion that politics affects our daily lives socially and economically, therefore we see it necessary to encourage and support women and youth participation.
Politics also makes public policy more efficient and effective and makes bureaucracies more responsive and accountable for meaningful socio-economic developments. We help to cultivate democratic participation in political processes through contextualized programmes that enhance collective empowerment, facilitate discourse and knowledge sharing and encourage policy change towards inclusivity, equity and sustainability.
The Siasa Open Day was held on the Friday, 29th January 2016, from 9:00am- 4:00pm at the Freedom Corner, Uhuru Park, Nairobi. Simultaneously, online discussions were held on social media throughout the day, as the event progressed. The Siasa Open Day was a platform for discourse and was aimed at creating public awareness on the various stakeholders in the political process within the country and ignite interactions between them and the citizenry on their mandates and what platforms are available for engagement. The uniqueness of the event was the transparency, being able to invite different imperative stakeholders to openly share information, discourse and engage with citizens was an occurrence that rarely happened in such a platform before. Siasa Place identifies the integral part played by politics in the growth of democracy which cannot be overstated and needs an informed mind to be able to better discern the best way forward. Due to this, the purpose of the Siasa Open Day was to create an enabling platform for information sharing.
The objectives of the Siasa Open Day were:
- Create public awareness on constitutional provisions on political participation.
- Promote the public understanding and interaction on political organizations.
- Synergise the goals and objectives of the political institutions with the aspirations of the citizens
- Encourage the youth to become more aware of political parties and their programmes, political agencies and their functions.
- Give political parties and stakeholders a platform to engage with the public well in advance of electoral campaign season so as to establish building blocks for an engaging relationship and to educate the public on their manifestos and ideologies
The theme for the Open Day was “Siasa Na Raia,” meaning, politics and the citizen. Designed to be informative and interactive and help achieve a mutual sharing of information between the citizenry and the political organizations to the greatest extent possible, the Siasa Open Day was constructed around exhibition stands to allow for personalized interaction of the organizations and the public. There was also a series of panel discussions that involved the representatives of political organizations, civil society, academia and the public. This helped in the interrogation of the political ecosystem in the country and the way forward in light of the upcoming elections and the lessons learnt from our past.
The topics for the panel discussions were:
- Political Ideology and Nation Building
- Young Women and Political Parties
- Social Movements and Active Citizenry
Target Audience Reach:
The Siasa Open Day targeted 1000 young men and young women attendants to take part in the open day and we were able to reach approximately 300 participants throughout the open day who were mostly youths, which was mainly attributed to it being a working day. We were able to get a total audience of 1,181,681 Million and a total of 16, 307 346 million impressions on Twitter. We invited 15 political parties to attend and seven of them honoured the invitation, [ Labour Party Of Kenya, KANU, Social Democratic Party, Mashinani Development Party, NARC – Kenya, Amani National Congress and Democratic Congress] of the three social movements we invited, Thirdway Alliance and Maskani ya Taifa attended while the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal represented state agencies with an apology from IEBC who confused the date for the event.
Impact The attendants were able to have a better understanding of what the various political parties were about and what the mechanisms were that they had put in place to mainstream them. The participants were able to get a better knowledge on the citizens views of various political players and how best to engage them as the main stakeholders in the political ecosystem. The general feeling was that the Open Day was very significant first and that there was need to have it often.
- Youth are eager to get politically involved by understanding political manifestos first
- There was an initial reluctance for political stakeholders to commit due to suspicion
- The evident history of mistrust and adversarial relations between political parties
- Smaller parties seemed more eager to participate- larger parties did not recognize the benefit
- The event gave political parties faces other than the flag bearers who are often popularized on media