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Gusii myths cast shadow on census in Kisii, Nyamira

Friday August 9 2019

Kisii Governor James Ongwae 

Kisii Governor James Ongwae before the Senate's Public Accounts and Investment Committee on May 15, 2019. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The governors of Kisii and Nyamira counties have urged their people to disregard myths and traditional beliefs about the census and fully participate.

James Ongwae and John Nyagarama say members of the Gusii community believe it is taboo to count members of a household, children in particular, so they intend to keep off the national exercise.

The Gusii community believes that children who are counted die naturally or are bewitched by their families' enemies as they are considered a source of wealth.

However, this has affected development in the region as funding for projects and programmes is based on numbers.


Speaking separately, the governors told residents of Kisii and Nyamira that it would be crucial for them to disregard the beliefs and fully take part in the census set for August 24-31 to help the government plan for the region. 


Speaking in his office on Wednesday, Mr Ongwae asked Kisii residents to embrace the exercise for the county to get more money from the National Treasury.

The county chief noted that the region is underfunded because a majority of its residents did not participate in the last census 10 years ago.

"I believe we have a population of over three million people in Kisii alone as opposed to the documented 1.5 million. This makes for a loss when it comes to resource allocation,” he said.


Mr Nyagarama said Nyamira cannot risk missing 'national goodies'.

There is nothing wrong with parents giving the correct number of children in their homes, he said.

"I have always declared that I have 10 children and nothing happens to them, so my appeal is for each individual in Nyamira and Kisii to be accounted for in the exercise," he said.


Mr James Abuga, the national coordinator of Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, said ICT training for the exercise has been finalised.

Mr Abuga said the training of content supervisors was ongoing at the Kenya Institute of Highways and Building Technology.

“The training for ICT was held in Kisumu last week. Those trained are now training content supervisors who will later train enumerators” he said.

In Kisii, 3,500 enumerators, 431 content supervisors and 53 ICT supervisors were hired to carry out the exercise amid concerns that the shortlisting was neither free nor fair.