Makadara group now wants government to pay them for illegally lifting their idea and rebranding it Nyumba Kumi
Makongeni location was one of the worst affected areas by the post-election violence of 2008. But residents believe their efforts during the crisis gave Kenya the often controversial Nyumba Kumi Initiative.
One of the community leaders, Mike Maganzo, says he was tasked with organising the estate residents to receive relief food and other donations.
“It was an arduous task. I organised the people into groups of ten households to easily manage them. There were many infiltrators in city estates and we felt we needed to know the true residents of Makongeni,” he says.
The set up worked well and Makongeni was later praised as having the best food distribution system in Nairobi.
“We called it ten-ten because we grouped households into clusters of ten and each cluster appointed a leader who would report to me,” says Maganzo.
When Alexander Hoops was posted to Makongeni as the area chief, he embraced the ten-ten initiative and proposed that it should be made permanent.
Maganzo and Hoops, who quit civil service last year, say they strongly believe it was their concept the government adopted last year and rebranded as Nyumba Kumi Initiative.
The government has budgeted Sh6 billion to roll out the initiative, now headed by former Provincial Commissioner Joseph Kaguthi, countrywide.
And that is where Hoops and Maganzo believe the problem beings. “We feel neglected yet we are the founders of this initiative. Ole Lenku (Interior Security minister) has been claiming it came from Tanzania. That is not true,” says Hoops.
Maganzo says the government should be compelled to compensate them for intellectual property infringement.
“This is a political ideology that we invented. It’s private investment capital that we own,” he adds.
Maganzo says although he attended a seminary in Tanzania in the 1970s, he never came across Nyumba Kumi and says the government is being insincere to claim Nyumba Kumi is Tanzanian.
“It is a political theory of Kenya that we invented. Tanzania has been practising socialism for a long time, so a Tanzanian concept cannot easily succeed in Kenya,” say former chief Hoops.
By end of 2012, Makongeni’s ten-ten concept was hugely successful and Hoops had already become a superstar chief that he resigned to run for a Member of County Assembly (MCA) in last year’s election. He lost.
“People have been asking why we did not patent the ten-ten if we indeed owned it. But I could not do business with the government since I was a civil servant,” he says.
The two now plan to petition the Nyumba Kumi secretariat to recognise their intellectual input as the originators of the initiative.
Maganzo says the ten-ten concept run smoothly once chief Hoops took over.
In 2010 Hoops filed the normal performance and achievements report for his location as part of the government’s performance target.
He outlined the success of ten-ten initiative. “Ten-ten method is an ideal village/ estate mechanism, which permit integration between the government and the citizen in all matters,” he wrote.
He also outlined how the initiative birthed another initiative called Mulika Chang’aa Okoa Mtoto in Makongeni.
Through counselling and seminars, illegal chang’aa dealers from 48 households were introduced into legal business like selling cereals and clothes.
“There was no way you could know who the chang’aa dealers were and engage them except through the ten-ten,” Maganzo adds.
The two also started a garbage collection programme which also helped clean the Nairobi River, called “Weka Taka Okoa Nairobi River Basin.”
Unsurprisingly, this work caught the eye of the Office of the President, which recognised their input to community policing during the Third Wave Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) rankings in 2010.
Hoops was ranked the best performing chief in Nairobi Province, Ms Margaret Mbugua, the Makadara Divisional Officer was ranked the best DO while Makadara District Commissioner (DC), Suleiman Chege was ranked as the best DC.
Hoops received a certificate signed by then head of public service thanking him for the exemplary work.
“After post-election violence, so many chiefs were diverting relief food. In Makadara you couldn’t do that because everybody was well known,” he says.
He believes President Kenyatta personally liked the ten-ten concept during the civil exhibition week last year.
President Kenyatta visited the Makongeni desk and picked a copy of the ten-ten concept, Hoops says.
“Afterwards, Joseph Kaguthi invited us for a meeting at Charter Hall in April this year and invited me to explain the concept to the meeting. In his first outreach meeting he came to Makongeni and actually people told him I started it,” Hoops said.
Kaguthi told the Star he remembers meeting Chief Hoops. But he says Nyumba Kumi is different from former chief Hoops ten-ten concept.
He says: “But you know they failed? Do not make it a chief-based community policing. What if corruption enters there? The citizens will leave them there. The chief and his people were calling it ten-ten because it was formed to help people after the 2008 election violence. But we’re not dismantling anything they did. So what we are saying is, involve everybody and let leadership be dynamic. They must let people elect their leaders.”
Kaguthi says Nyumba Kumi in Makadara is flourishing better compared to other places in Kenya. “We have given them a prototype constitution to follow. We do not want this version to fail the way the previous one failed, because the citizens will suffer,” he says.
Makadara currently has 554 clusters of 10 which meet regularly. “They identify problems and find solutions. The problem could even not be security-related. It could be social or environmental,” Kaguthi says.
Hoops is however adamant that ten-ten, as practised in Makadara before Nyumba Kumi arrived, was a success.
In April this year he prepared the concept and took it to University of Nairobi’s lecturers Dr Fridah Mugo and Zechariah Maleche, from the department of Urban and Regional Planning.
“They gave me 99 per cent,” he says. The Star could not reach the two to confirm this.
Nyumba Kumi similarly works through clusters of 10 households in every village, with an elected villager to head each cluster for maximum six years.
This elder is expected to disseminateinformationongovernmentpolicies, resolvedisputesbetweencommunitymembersand createa localcommunitypolicingcommittee.
Maganzo says this is an adulteration of the original ten-ten concept. “It is simply community policing. Our ten-ten concept addressed all development issues. We would also address unemployment because we could easily identify people with certain skills from the ten households,” he says.
“Theirs is wrong. They have neglected grassroots. They are addressing thieves and terrorists, but they are neglecting the social and economic aspects.”
Under the ten-ten, the households were given forms to fill out. “We captured all people’s details. We also involved village elders, but Nyumba Kumi fails to capture this. We are telling them it cannot work like this,” he says.
Kaguthi says the focus of Nyumba Kumi is not just security. “The problems we address could even be social or environmental,” he said in a past interview.
Jane Wandera, a former cluster leader in the ten-ten in Makadara sub county, says her skills are being wasted because when Nyumba Kumi came the former cluster leaders of Makongeni location were not recognised.
“We had been trained for one month. We learnt how to work with different heads of households in Makadara, so where we live there is no tribalism,” she says.
Benard Kalii, another former cluster head, says the coordinators of Nyumba Kumi should reach out to the originators of the ten-ten.
Hoops says he is ready to assist the Nyumba Kumi coordinators because he believes if properly executed, Nyumba Kumi, or ten-ten, will be the best tool for devolution.