22 Places to Educate Yourself Online for Free – Take Online Courses with Certificate

It’s not just another hype. Massive Open Online Courses – MOOCs and OpenCourseWare – OCW is causing a progressive movement in human development; a phenomenon in the learning experience for the workforce, gradually bridging the chasm between the educated and uneducated.

With online courses, anyone from any part of the world can gain knowledge in any field of interest for free or almost. All you need is a computer; laptop, tablet or Smartphone – internet connection, commitment and a self-made schedule. You can even get a certificate on completing the course.


ALISON (Advance Learning Interactive System Online) offers Free Online Courses, Workplace Skills, Interactive Education and Multimedia learning. With ALISON you can take online courses with certificate of completion or Diploma level, on a wide range of courses.

  1. Coursera

Coursera offer high quality courses from top universities, for free to everyone to improve your resume, advance your career, expand your knowledge, and gain confidence. This online learning platform currently host courses from Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and University of Pennsylvania.

  1. Udemy

Udemy’s goal is to disrupt and democratize the world of education by enabling anyone to teach and learn online. It seeks to dramatically change education by empowering millions of experts around the world to teach & share what they know. Whether you want to learn excel, business & entrepreneurship, academics, the arts, health & fitness, language, music or technology, there is a comprehensive course for you.

  1. Udacity

When Udacity started its first courses in February 2012, the model was that all online courses are open enrollment; you can learn at your own pace and access all of the information you need at any time. Upon completion of the class, you download your class certification to demonstrate your level of achievement in the course, all for free. However in April 2014, it announced that effective from May 16, they will be phasing out certificates for free courseware completion. Students are now required to pay to complete courses and get a verified certificate. Read this comparison article between Udemy Vs Udacity

  1. Khan Academy

At Khan Academy, you learn almost anything for free. With over 3,100 videos on everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and hundreds of skills to practice, the online academy is on the mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace.

  1. Edx

EdX is a transformational partnership in online education between The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University to offer online university courses with certificate to millions of people around the world. Today, several other world class universities offer online courses on edX.

  1. University of the People

University of the People (UoPeople) is proclaimed the world’s first tuition-free online university dedicated to the global advancement and democratization of higher education. UoPeople offers Associates and Bachelors degree programs in Business Administration and Computer Science.

  1. iTunes U

If you’re a student who uses Apple devices, you will be happy to know that you have access toiTunes U, which gives you access to different educational courses from all leading universities for free! Did you dream of studying at MIT, Oxford, Yale, or Cambridge? This is your chance to learn various subjects from the best colleges and universities in the world.

  1. Saylor

Saylor strives to provide quality education for free for everyone around the world. The Saylor team hires credentialed professors to create course blueprints and to locate, vet, and organize Open Education Resources – OER materials into a structured and intuitive format. Each course culminates with a final exam, and students receiving a passing grade can download a certificate of completion.

  1. Skillfeed

If you are looking to learning a new skill, or improving on your proficiency in Photoshop, Illustrator, or HTML, Skillfeed offers unlimited access to high quality video courses from a worldwide community of instructors. You have a month’s free trial which thereafter, you will subscribe to a monthly fee to gain unlimited access to *all* courses!

  1. Academic Earth 

Academic Earth has curated links to over 750 online courses and 8,500 individual online lectures, giving students of all ages unparalleled access to college courses they may otherwise never experience. Whether supplementing existing coursework, or learning for the sake of learning, anyone with an internet connection has the freedom to learn at their own pace from world-renowned experts, without the burden of rising tuition costs.

  1. OpenCourseWare Consortium

The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a worldwide collaborative initiative that brings together OCW from universities across six continents.

  1. MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW)

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a permanent free web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content and is open and available to anyone around the world. The over 2100 OCW materials reflect almost all the undergraduate and graduate subjects taught at MIT.

  1. Harvard Open Courses

Online courses at Harvard Extension School have either an online video or live web-conference format. Some courses also include a weekend of intensive on-campus lectures. Online courses span a full semester and have scheduled assignments and exams. Due to the interactive nature of the web conference lesssons, you will have to pay for certain courses here!

  1. Yale Open Courses

Are you a bachelor or high school student who is undecided about your future course of interest? Yale Open Courses provides free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. Discover a range of timely and timeless topics taught by Yale professors, each with a unique perspective and an individual interpretation of a particular field of study.

  1. Michigan

Open.Michigan, University of Michigan’s OCW initiative, features a giant collection of courses from 19 of the university’s schools, colleges and units. Ranging from literature to dentistry to public policy, the extensive list hosts a variety of courses — all complete with syllabi, course lectures and supplementary material.

  1. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health offers comprehensive materials for dozens of courses on topics like chronic diseases, global health and injury prevention.

  1. Harvard Medical School

Harvard Medical School’s OCW initiative includes dozens of materials from its course catalog. It’s more of a library of resources than a list of full courses — the collection includes classes with video clips, lecture slides, notes and projects.

  1. Carnegie Mellon

Carnegie Mellon only has a handful of courses, mostly in the STEM fields. However, the courses are comprehensive and the layout is conducive to a streamlined learning experience. Though there aren’t any video lectures, the classes are laid out like online courses. All notes are completely digital, and there are interactive practice problems for students to self-check their understanding of each lesson.

  1. Tufts University

Choose from schools of dentistry, medicine, nutrition policy, veterinary medicine, arts and sciences,engineering and international relations. Each course contains a variety of materials: PDFs of lecture slides, homework assignments and exams.

  1. Notre Dame

Notre Dame’s OCW program offers courses across two dozen of its departments, from aerospace engineering and classics to mathematics and theology. Each course includes a syllabus; others have class structure outlines. Classes also include professor biographies — so you know you’re learning from an accredited source. Audio lectures, PowerPoint slides, illustrations and texts are all free to use.

  1. UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley webcasts offers a large selection of courses in a comprehensive list of departments — bioengineering, Japanese, legal studies, public health. Since the webcasts are more or less recordings of actual lectures, as opposed to courses optimized for web, they lack lecture notes and supplementary materials. However, each course has audio recordings of lectures via iTunes or video recordings of lectures via YouTube.

Source: After School Africa

Building better, resilient and safer cities: the Happiness Index

Instruction in youth is like engraving in stones-Berber proverb, North Africa.

Growing up in the urban cities of Mombasa and Nairobi, I thought to a large extent that better livelihoods equated to access to food, education, clean water, good health, clothes and shelter for all with the underlying factor being money. The basic needs as we know them; however there’s more to it. Today, I have come to learn and appreciate certain aspects of life that are easily overlooked; one of them being the happiness index.

The world is slowly shifting public policy from being a mere representation of cold numbers to a more candid reflection of the well being of its citizens. It no longer is about calculating GDP and economic statistics alone,  there is more to life and economic indicators by themselves are a poor representation of a people; people in essence do not eat nor dance with GDP. The happiness index reflects citizens’ actual living conditions and quality of life and inculcates social indicators; the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them.

Are you smiling more often today? If so can you pin point the ingredients that have cooked this feel good factor?


Statistics indicate that urban cities are home to a large number of youth in the African continent and these numbers continue to grow by the day. This brings new issues to the forefront of economic, political and human development both in a positive and negative light. The increase in numbers has inadvertently raised the challenge of addressing inequality caused by rising unemployment which has further exacerbated insecurity in many urban settings. This rapid urbanization is a ticking time bomb if wide arrays of issues are left unabated.

Estimations show that by the year 2050, 7 in 10 people will be urban dwellers and that 60% of all urban dwellers are expected to be under the age of 18 by 2030.

Naturally, before you can fix something you’ve got to analyze and quantify it and urbanization in and of itself requires a reintroduction of lasting solutions which among them includes bringing youth on board as partners to find legitimate and inclusive ways to enhance the sustainability and quality of life for all people living in cities; ultimately supporting the realization of sustainable urbanization and decent housing for all as espoused in UN-HABITAT’s mandate.

Youth, especially those living in informal settlements will tell you that among their most prized possessions are open spaces which bring them together with their friends and family. Some of these spaces measure 40×20 metres, others much smaller. These spaces are utilized for sporting activities such as football and volleyball which are quite popular or for community barazas to discuss issues affecting the larger society which creates a sense of belonging.


(Pic courtesy of theguardian.com)

“Life can be quite tough, a sense of belonging gives us sanity,” one of the youth in Mathare tells me. Some people have argued that a stronger sense of community and culture often gives them a naturally more upbeat and cheerful outlook on the world, some argue that it doesn’t. The evidence is blatant nonetheless.

These public spaces are not only venues for recreation and social interaction, but are also critical for innovation and entrepreneurship which supports economic development. These dynamics are well known however why is it that we still do not create these spaces especially in informal settlements? In today’s world, any space means money and this economic opportunity means more concrete jungles. Accessing these open spaces in informal settlements where even an acute space originally planned for a toilet will be exchanged for habitation is indeed a dirty fight for the youth.

The team at UN-HABITAT is working diligently with grass root organizations, local and national governments to actualize these public spaces. Such like organizations in Kenya are Sisi ni Amani, One Stop Youth Resource Centre, Kibera Soweto Resource Centre which are located in Mathare and Kibera respectively and the Kimisagara One Stop Youth employment and productive centre in Rwanda among many others. Their collaborative efforts have transformed garbage and burnt spaces into environmental, health and recreational centres where youth especially those from informal settlements are interacting with one another and with youth serving agencies. The groups work hand in hand with the larger community gaining their buy in and support in the projects which has made it community owned and sustainable.


(Dance group at the Kimisagara centre. Pic courtesy of http://www.nyc.gov.rw)

“We are happier, more active, more united.You’d be surprised what an open space can do,” Kaka, coordinator of the Mathare Environmental slum soccer initiative.


(The slum soccer initiative by Mathare Environmental youth, Sisi ni Amani and One Stop Youth Resource Centre)

Mombasa youth through David’s eyes Part I

“Look at him. You just take a long hard look at him. IMG_20141022_101300 Please tell me if these people are lazy. It is 5.20 a.m. They were here before you even came. What you’re seeing him doing is collecting feed to catch fish. The tide is also about to come so he is preparing for it in advance. I know these boys; it is as if they are my sons. Some of them are my neighbours, some of them I never see again but they still are like my sons. I have watched them from different places in Mombasa for over 28 years. Yes, I have worked in Mombasa for over 28 years. Do you believe me? (chuckles) I have done all manner of jobs but I’m most proud as a security guard. I have worn this uniform for a longer period than you’ve probably existed in this world. You look very young but I will not ask you your age.  I hear it is bad manners to do so. (chuckles) I started here in the early 80’s. Things were great. Tourism was booming. Mombasa was the it place in the whole East African coast, actually in Africa. It was the same in the 90’s but I cannot say it’s the same today. (silence) I am earning the least I have ever earned in my life, but I am grateful. I still have a job. I can’t say it’s the same for some of my friends, actually most of them. They are so bitter with life. Do you blame them? (silence) So these boys, you’d like to know more about them? Well, these boys right now are one the most hardworking individuals I know. Everyone says that Mombasa youth are lazy. Do people in the urban cities even wake at these ungodly hours to go to work? Let alone to do a traditional economic activity such as fishing? Why label what you do not know? You end up belittling those who still have a bit of fire in them. You honestly do. Despite all hardship and short comings, they are still here before dawn to fend for themselves. Make no mistake though, they still do engage in illegal activities. You do know that drugs are rampant here. It’s a shame. They have destroyed our youth. Majority are high at least at some point in the day. Call it escapism and opportunists making a killing. These children probably dropped out of school in class 4-8 or at the most in their second year in high school. People say they are lazy because now there is free primary education but that is not the case. The funds available are Kshs 3000 ( USD 34) and one needs Kshs 7000 (USD 78). Yes one many say that they can work to offset the balance but there are other things that take priority, food and shelter. The basic needs. Those are more of a priority. School comes as an afterthought yet it is the one thing that could remove them from abject poverty. But there is another problem. There are those who have gone to school but have still not gotten a shot at their silver lining. There are no jobs. Am sure you can now see why I say that these boys out here fishing are hardworking. They know that people cannot do without food and even despite them earning very little, they are still here. They then take the fish to the factory in Old Town then to marikiti. They live a day at a time. It’s worse today though, they cannot bank on the tourism industry to make some extra money. There are no tourists. We need each other to face this menace, we need our security back. Can we have a national dialogue about this?”

Own your space #DGTrends


Musings of a people: Part II

“Creativity has nothing to do with any activity in particular — with painting, poetry, dancing, singing. It has nothing to do with anything in particular. Anything can be creative — you bring that quality to the activity. Activity itself is neither creative nor uncreative. You can paint in an uncreative way. You can sing in an uncreative way. You can clean the floor in a creative way. You can cook in a creative way. Creativity is the quality that you bring to the activity you are doing. It is an attitude, an inner approach — how you look at things. Creativity means loving whatsoever you do — enjoying, celebrating it, as a gift of God.” This is by far one of my most favourite quotes by Osho.

I must admit that sometimes I do get lost in Osho’s teachings, they sometimes sound a bit too idealistic in an increasingly capitalist and challenging world. He states that ambition kills creativity. That an ambitious man cannot love any activity for its own sake. ‘While he is painting he is looking ahead; he is thinking, `When am I going to get a Nobel Prize?` When he is writing a novel, he is looking ahead. He is always in the future — and a creative person is always in the present.’ We destroy creativity. Nobody is born uncreative, but we make ninety-nine percent of people uncreative.

I am indeed grateful that I got to meet two individuals who demonstrated this philosophy (if I may call it that) to me; I got to have a better understanding of what this creativity was, this lack of “ambition”, this attitude he speaks of.

Meet Eliud;


Eliud is a 21 year old finance and engineering student. This young man amazed me on all levels to say the least.

He and his friend Eric sell buckets near the 46 stage. They buy buckets from several different companies, clean, sterilize and sell them for a margin. The shop is piled with buckets and I of course got curious on their turnover.

Do these young men make enough money off this? The answer is a resounding yes. Eliud and Eric discovered that the one item every household in Kawangware cannot do without is a bucket. This is not restricted to households alone but also to all business enterprises in the area. Buckets to store and transport goods; be it water, food, cement, sand, stones… buckets are essential in everyday activities. In fact the two constantly run out of supply due to the high demand.

One thing that came across strongly for me was Eliud’s excitement and entrepreneurial spirit. He loves what he does.

”How do you do this and attend school let alone juggle two degrees?’ I ask.  Eliud amidst a huge grin informs me that he does this business on a part time basis; over the weekends and school holidays. Majority of the time the shop is run by his two employees.

Eliud’s dream is to create a financial system that will assist others. He’s not quite sure on how he’ll do it but he knows he will. He’s passionate about using the ICT platform to solve society’s problems.

One challenge he witnesses on a daily basis is the need for people to access information, quality information to be specific; to know and capitalize on opportunities just as he did with buckets. He wishes that there were more centres that would expose youth to this.  He appreciates the fact that he’s the rare type, the ones whose favourite past time is reading.

“The worst thing you can ask a young person to do is read,” he says. Eliud intends to simplify and disseminate information to the masses, an initiative that he has already taken up with his friends. I see Eric nodding in agreement.

Is Eliud in the right profession to actualize this? Definitely. Finance+ engineering. World watch out for Eliud.

Meet George;


The 24 year old who runs his own cyber café, IT company and mpesa outlet. George came off as a very mature individual from the get go and it soon dawned on me why.

He is the guardian to his late sister’s son and is currently schooling him and most importantly, mentoring him. To be honest George was the first individual to mention the “mentorship” word. It was both refreshing and exciting to hold a different kind of conversation with this young man. Not the conventional “naomba serikali” kind of vibe.

The young man has a lot going on for him and I ask him on how he has been able to achieve this. George gives most credit to his late uncle, the man who mentored him.

He was orphaned at a very young age and for majority of his life, has been the parent and bread winner. He currently has custody of his nephew and three younger siblings.

We discuss several things with George, from aspects on how the government can improve its engagement with the youth to philosophies on life. So many high points but let me share a few here. George’s biggest worry for youth in Kawangware is their lack of vision and guidance.

“Given the opportunity youth can do great things, they just need guidance, they have the energy,” he states. “Some of them are so creative but due to bad company, it all goes in vain.” Ah there goes that creativity word again. George feels that there is abundance in talent; that it’s just the attitudes that need improvement. Osho’s quote comes to mind.

George is currently mentoring several young boys but wishes he could do more. The government could assist him in only one way he informs me; by acknowledging the hard work of young individuals. “Nothing big by the way, if even my local mp extended a handshake, that would be enough, that’s all I want my government to do for me,” he states. His reasoning behind this is that often times it’s the crooks and the ‘casanovas’ who have a large following in the area. “If hard work was appreciated even by a small gesture you’ll see several young people come out to harness their talents; a little goes a long way.”

George’s parting words are that we should all work from what we have to get what we want.

My take home was that selling buckets with zeal, vision and excitement is creative, disseminating and simplifying information for friends with passion is creative, mentoring with such heart is creative, Osho was not wrong in stating that the more creative one is, the more one will see transformation happening of its own accord.

Is Pan-Africanism a child waiting to be born or is it an old man that has gone? #dgtrends

You can not be a Lizard in your village and expect to be a Crocodile overseas- Nigerian proverb.

African Youth I celebrate and salute you for your diversity, your energy, your enthusiasm and eagerness for change and your appreciation of the enormous task ahead of you; the task to transform and unite this continent.

This week I attended the African Union youth consultation to the Third High Level Dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance. The theme being ‘Silencing the guns in Africa’ which is in direct response to the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration adopted by the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government on 26th May 2013 to end all wars in Africa by 2020.

 To be honest I wasn’t quite sure on my expectations. These dialogues happen all the time; we draft beautiful and lofty resolutions but hardly ever come up with tangible and impactful implementation. Why the gap? Why the inconsistency?

I was both relieved and challenged by this forum. This dialogue was different. Not because we discussed key thematic topics such as youth, power and politics for sustainable peace or the engagement strategy for youth in the Africa Governance Structure within the African Union framework, or even the role of young people in fostering accountable, responsive and effective governance in Africa. All these have been discussed time and again on various platforms. What sparked my interest is simply the fact that young African leaders from over 40 countries across the continent shared one ideology; pan African consciousness; an African renaissance brought about by consciously depicting our identities and charting our destinies. What do I mean by this? And why is this so important in silencing the guns?

Majority of us are aware of the dire need to address the conflicts on our continent; to silence the guns that have been blazing and bleeding our continent dry. Our leaders have envisioned this by the year 2020, quite a brave and ambitious declaration if you ask me and even for most, an unrealistic one.

We have read numerous reports that state that majority of Africans are poor and living below the poverty line, that corrupt government officials are robbing us of our resources and that leaders are thriving off this very conflicts and riding the wave of the poorly told African narrative. This is true to a very large extent but I beg to differ with one thought. Africans are not poor and this ideology is artificial.

The intellectual, brilliant and clear sighted Brian Kagoro, rightly put it, we need an emergence of self confident, self believing African individuals who are ready to steer and propel this continent forward and this begins by creating identities built on consciousness. Kwame Nkrumah consistently reiterated the fact that political independence is not independence in its entirety. Independence begins in the mind.

We fight over resources, we face challenges in rising insecurity, and we have a youth demographic that is bursting at the seams. It is these youth who are picking these guns, youth who are frustrated and experiencing numerous challenges on this resource rich continent.

Pan africanism is not about disowning our brothers fighting and focusing on our growth individually. Nor is it a reserve for intellectuals. Pan africanism is about accepting our challenges and moving forward together regardless of our diversity, an inclusive and collective effort in developing this continent to one of peace and prosperity.

As Mr. Kagoro stated, “The true emancipation of African youth lies in this consciousness that our humanity, our freedom and our justice is indivisible.” This involves inclusiveness and tolerating one other at our weakest moments; and that moment being right now with wars sweeping across the continent. A great example of this inclusiveness and toleration that I speak of is Malcolm X, the revolutionary young man who changed black history. Did you know that this man had attempted to straighten his hair and bleach his skin? Had society decided to shun this man based on this temporary moment of weakness, black history would not be what it is today.

Pan Africanism is about you and I consciously shedding light on this continent by telling our own stories, by helping each other arrive at this consciousness in ways we know best. If a photographer, let not the gun but the camera shoot.

Many times as youth we do feel the need to critic and involve ourselves in the immature politics of hurling insults at our governments. We want to be ‘big’ without even peering through the window to know let alone concern ourselves with what our neighbor is doing or facing. Focusing solely on our economic progression without realizing it is our very regression. Let us resist the temptation to be important before our time and not put title and class before humanity.

If you develop yourself consciously I consider you pan African, if you help even just one other person arrive at this consciousness, I consider you too to be pan African. As Brian Kagoro put it, “In a world bound by such dark clouds of conflict, violence and bitterness, no one light suffices to dispel evil. Light many lights of peace, love and joint prosperity.”

Musings of a people: Part I


Kawangware, a buzzing slum just a few 100 metres from up town Lavington residential area is the location for my first field visit where I intend to interact with the youth.

Perhaps my reason for choosing the location is its close proximity, easy accessibility and more importantly, it is an area that houses thousands of youth in Nairobi. For purposes of this visit, I identified youth as persons between 18-30.

I take a 46 matatu (public service vehicle) and alight at a terminal called Kanugaga where I am then escorted to the house that I will be staying at by my good friend Phanice who resides in the area. We pass several people and I can’t help but notice how vibrant the place is. There are a couple of boys by the corner seated in three saloon cars, doors open with loud music playing. I ask her what they’re up to and she informs me that they are driving instructors who give lessons throughout the day. They were currently waiting for customers. Curious as to the price, I ask and find out they charge Ksh 100 for every half kilometer or so. The boys seem to be enjoying the music, the day and basically their job as they bop their heads to the beat.

We arrive at the house which I am told is located in 56 where I meet my two gracious hosts, Eva and Tossi. Eva is a beautiful 25 year old  girl who has just completed her undergraduate degree in Medical Lab while her brother Tossi, is 24  years and in his third year studying Finance and Economics. The house is made of stone and is a single room approximately 20 by 10 metres. The house is simply decorated, with a single bed, a mattress folded on the floor, TV, coffee table and two sofa sets. The sitting area and bedroom are separated by a bed sheet.

Being of around the same age we immediately start talking and instantly create a rapport. I am grateful to the two for agreeing to host me and to sharing their insight on life growing up in Kawangware.  Both of them have grown up in the area all their lives besides the few years that they spent in high school in shaggz (up country). I soon find out that the two were raised single handedly by their mother who has been working as a house help in the nearby suburb Kileleshwa. Tossi tells me that she is his role model and he aspires to be as hard working as her. This is clearly evident as she has schooled her children to university level and is still currently schooling their younger brother. ‘Very admirable,’ I say.

I am hopeful to tour as much as possible and so we begin our rounds. Tossi has a couple of friends who I get to speak with, of whom I will speak of in another post. Disappointingly, I was able to converse with only two ladies in my two day stay.

As we walk around I am bemused by the number of small children playing on the streets. Another striking thing is the amount of food being sold by the roadside. People really do like to eat around here I think to myself. Eva tells me that it is the one business that residents in Kawangware are a keen to as customers are there on a constant. I find out that food is actually sold as from 4 am when people are heading out to work till 11 pm in the night. One of the favourites is githeri, (a mixture of maize and beans) which is packed in small paper bags (ready to go githeri). Another is chapattis, mandazis, and a lot of meat and vegetables. Looking at the prices I realize that food is very affordable in the area. Chapattis for instance are sold at Ksh 10 and a githeri bag at Ksh 10 as well. Sukuma wiki ( Kale) that can feed two goes for Ksh 5.

One of the issues that arose for me was food security in itself, the job market and the correlation between the two. It’s quite evident that the food prices are relatively low to enhance competitiveness seeing as every two or so metres are food vendors. The upside is that majority of the households in Kawangware are able to feed themselves, however does this business allow room for growth? This grapples me. One of the food vendors informs me that this is a business that he has done for eight years, it pays his bills and feeds his children, he is content with life. Eva alerts me that I will meet several others who share his sentiments; further, that it is very few individuals who have been able to grow their businesses let alone diversify and venture into others.

With limited access to capital how then do these individuals diversify? Does lack of ambition come into play? There being strength in numbers, are these individuals part of chamas (Informal cooperatives)? How can they deal with undercutting from a business perspective? Questions that I hope to answer by the end of my stay.

I meet Ramadhani (27 years), Issah (28years) and Willy (27 years), three young men who sell shoes next to the Congo terminal. I introduce myself and tell them that I’m a youth on an inquisitive journey to understand better youth issues. They agree to spare some time to share their life stories and insight with me. For such a forthright approach, it came as a surprise as to how welcoming they were. Willy stuffs a ‘gunia’ (sack) with paper bags for me to sit on.

I get to learn that the three of them have lived in Kawangware for an average of 10 years. Ramadhani begins and tells me that he is a proud father of three girls and loving husband to what he deems the luckiest girl in the world. He is a devoted Muslim and believer in humanity. He tells me that he is happiest when he sees his friends flourish in their businesses and happy; a philosophy that he lives by.

Issah tells me that reality tells him he’s a hustler but his heart and mind tell him he is an artist. I then ask him on when he last painted to which he informs me approximately three months ago. He wishes that he could have more avenues to showcase his work because then, he will be living in a better neighbourhood. “My work is great!” he muses.

As for Willy he is a very quiet young man and nods in agreement to his friends’ sentiments without directly responding to anything I ask. I throw him off guard and ask him to talk to me as if it were Uhuru Kenyatta, the president of Kenya seated right next to him in the middle of the street on a ‘gunia’. The young man beams and chuckles. “Well in that case,” he says, “I would definitely ask you for some money, and not in the sense that you think.” “For a long time coming we have wanted to expand this business and to sell shoes in other spots but capital is limiting.” “I would also ask you to make it more accessible for us to get credit; I have no land, I have no property, what I do have is my able hands and mind to do business.”

I inquire on the various projects and funds that have been set up by government to facilitate with this to which he laughs. “Even those have their owners,” he says. Willy explains that even with well intended government facilitation, there is inadequate transparency; only a select few have access to these funds let alone information on them.

They tell me that they are grateful to Allah each day because it is him who has enabled them to never sleep hungry. Ramadhani tells me that even with 100 Kenya Shillings his girls sleep on a full stomach and are happy. I thank them for their time and proceed on…


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