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Sad to see young graduates flooding the mtumba business

One of Governor Johnson Sakaja’s manifestos when he came to power was to allow hawkers into the CBD, and he did so, much to the chagrin of the normal pedestrians, whose possession of the sidewalks was now lost to the hawkers.

In addition, the governor converted certain parts of the CBD into market areas over the weekend, with tents acting as stalls. This also includes the area around the Kenya National Archives.

On Sunday I walked around town and got a chance to see all of this in play. The entire Tom Mboya Street, from the fire station to the Afya Center, was lined with hawkers, and in some places there were as many as three hawkers spanning the width of the sidewalk.

As I walked along Tom Mboya Street, from the intersection with Ronald Ngala Street to the intersection with Luthuli Avenue, one thing stood out. All the street vendors in that area were young people. Especially young men, who all sell shoes or clothing.

Having been around graduates of universities and colleges, I am aware of the resignation of fate, after failing to find any job, to resort to selling mitumba. It’s sad to see brains skilled enough in STEM, hospitality or business wasting away on the streets. And this is not to disparage mitumba sales. No, just like any other trade, it is of course necessary for us.

The only thing I am against is that university graduates, due to lack of work, resort to it. First, it shows a failure in our country’s system. Second, it promotes the country’s tendency to be solely a service sector, rather than a manufacturing industry. We are more consumers than producers, and in the grand scheme of things that does us more harm than good.

This leads to a shrinking economy, and until we get out of that rut, our country will never develop. Construction industries. Create employment for the youth. Raise people’s living standards.

Qwani founder