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Oliva Kinabo (2006)

Oliva Kinabo

Oliva Kinabo

When I was young my grand mum used to tell me a story of baobab tree that it grows every second. She was also blessing me that I grow like a baobab tree. I once cried because I couldn’t image how big and fun I would look when I become big like a baobab.
The dream to become a baobab came true when I joined KDSC. I found that every second was a learning moment and as the baobab grow in width and length my knowledge and skills were also growing/increasing.

The lecturers helped me to understand, analyze and critique new theories in relation to my life. I could see how unequal power relations affect the globe through creating opportunities to few minorities while leaving majority in darkness and abject poverty. I discovered that the poverty we are experiencing is not a result of lack of resources but it is rooted from unequal distribution of resources and social injustices. I looked at the policies and in a more specific ways, I was able to analyse and see theoretical part of the MDGs the way they were sounding good but with very little chances to be achieved by the least developed countries. A true commitment is not yet there. How can you talk about sustainable environment while carbon emissions still increasing in the developed country? Who is committed to reduce poverty while corruption is part of some people’s lives? Whose reality could this be? There are many more questions than answers.

In addition, the lecturers at Kimmage, helped me to look critically at governance issues in my own country and realize impediments from the duty bearers who instead of protecting their citizens and promote citizenry rights, they use their positions to create wealth for themselves at the expense of the marginalized and vulnerable groups.

My interaction with other students from all over the world was awesome. The sharing was done both in and outside the class. It was interesting to learn how people were analyzing issues from different perspectives according to their contexts.
Five years after my graduation at Kimmage, I could see myself growing more branches and width – the same as a baobab tree. First of all I got a new job. I used the opportunity to transform many people through training. One of the key subjects I facilitated was on social accountability whereby, I helped course participants to apply different tools for empowering the communities to understand their rights and hold the duty bearers (Government and private sector) accountable. The emphasis here was that people should understand social contract they have entered with their leaders and hold them into account especially in delivering of adequate and quality social services. They should also be able to follow the private sector (investors) to make sure that their commitments are adhered to. As I am writing this article now, communities in the three districts I worked with them (through training, coaching and mentoring) have seen the importance of attending public (village meetings) and question issues concern their lives. They also track expenditures from the district budgets. Increasingly, women are participating in decision making bodies.

In addition, I also worked with women helping them to build their inner esteem and gain confidence, understand and challenge both structural and cultural systems and practices that prevent them from enjoying their women’s human rights in different spheres. Now, women have started challenging their own cultural and traditional beliefs and practices which violate their rights. They question on why girls are not given equal opportunities in education, issues of inheritance and in specific way, gender equality in land ownership.

Now, I have moved from the training institution to program work in order to “walk the talk” – practicing what I was teaching. I am working with different groups to advocate for land rights to the small scale farmers and pastoralists. I am still applying the knowledge and skills gained from Kimmage. I am challenging the land tenure system and policies imposed by the international companies. This is not easy but I have confidence that my contributions will transform lives of many people.


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