Peoples’ Parliament on Airburgers

Here’s a press release from the Kenyan Bunge la Mwananchi (Swahili for “the Peoples’ Parliament”). Unlike many of the press releases that I put up here, this one reads like poetry. It’s well worth a read, not least because it’s always worth reminding oneself that, around the world, hunger is never experienced impassively. There is anger in peoples’ bellies, even when there’s nothing else. Via Shailja.

The Right To Eat

From Bunge La Mwananchi, the Peoples’ Parliament of Kenya.
Contact: George Nyongesa, grnyongesa@yahoo.com
+254 720 451 235

We stand for the right to food for all Kenyans!

We are hungry and angry Kenyans who demand that the government ensures the right to food for all Kenyans. We are tired of eating “airburgers”. We are tired of watching our children go to bed hungry. We can no longer keep to the-skip-a-meal program.

This government cannot claim to uphold any human rights if it does not, at minimum, ensure the right to food.

In a country where the President, Prime Minister and Vice-President will spend over Ksh.2.4 billion this year on:

– their households,
– public relations service,
– lavish state functions,
– political party retreats,
– unnecessary paid media advertisements,

it is unacceptable that the government does not subsidize basic commodities consumed by ordinary Kenyans, such as unga (maize meal), kerosene, milk, bread and rice.

In a country where the government pays politicians’ wives Ksh. 9.6 million [US$ 130,000] per annum, it is scandalous that our people, hidden in the slums, are starving.

In country where the rich feed their dogs and cats on meat, milk, chicken and biscuits, it is despicable that our children are malnourished. Eat rats and wild berries to survive. Miss school because of hunger.

On May 31st, 2008, hundreds of Kenyans marched through Nairobi streets to protest unchecked increases in food prices. The government, through the police, disrupted, teargassed and beat up women and children in this peaceful procession. Activists were arrested and charged with illegal assembly, despite the procession meeting all legal requirements. The police continue to harass, arbitrarily arrest and threaten Bunge La Mwananchi members across the country.

Since then we have been involved in a protracted court process that disrupts our families, stresses our small finances, derails our quest for livelihoods.

God put enough food in this country for all our needs and not for some people’s greed.

If the rich would only choose to grow rich slower, all of us can have jobs. No member of the ruling elite should collect salaries for two, three or four paid positions while we have none at all.

All human beings are born equal. Socio-economic structures created by some selfish individuals shackle us in hunger, unemployment, poverty. The pangs of hunger, our thirst for clean water, the cold nights on sidewalks, the pinch of poverty, the stench of poor living conditions, cannot wait for the year 2030!

We demand urgent government intervention. As a start, food must be affordable to all Kenyans.

Bunge la Mwananchi