Thursday, February 29, 2024

Meet this 32-year-old YALI graduate out to render Shakeel Shabbir jobless

On October 22, 2020, Betty Akinyi Otieno joined hundreds of Nyanza leaders who met President Uhuru Kenyatta at Yatch Club, in Kisumu.

The President was in a working tour of the area after presiding over Madaraka Day celebration.

The meeting brought together Governors, Members of Parliament, and a host of corporate and opinion leaders from Nyanza who were presenting a memorandum to the President on the area development demands.

“When I stood up to speak, I challenged the President to address youth unemployment, and reminded him that he is the United Nation’s Global Youth Champion,” said Akinyi, a mother of two.

However, the President failed to respond to her comments, probably, following the many comments from the senior politicians who raised many other development concerns.

“After that, I felt I needed a forum where I can champion youth agenda, and after consultations, I have decided to go for Kisumu East Parliamentary seat,” said Akinyi.

Betty Akinyi with Ida Odinga (Photo: Courtesy)

Who is Betty Akinyi?

The first born in a family of four children went to M M ShaH Primary School, before moving to Rae Kajulu Primary School where she sat for her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations in 2002.

Akinyi joined Ulanda Girls’ High School in Migori, sitting her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations in 2006 before joining Multimedia University in Nairobi to pursue a Diploma in Mass Communication between 2007 and 2009.

Akinyi later pursued Bachelors of Communication and Media from Maseno University between 2015 and 2019, before working as a reporter at Urban Radio in Kisumu, and Standard Group’s Radio Maisha.

Betty Akinyi during a community campaign on tree planting in schools (Photo: Courtesy)

Community work

Her community work however begun in 2006 when she begun an environmental program which saw her work with learners to plant trees in schools.

“I was passionate about environment, and I followed closely on issues of Climate Change, and how to save the world from its impacts,” said Akinyi.

In 2015, she followed former United States President Barrack Obama’s speeches which passionately appealed to the youth to come out and be counted through the little things they do in their communities.

And when the call for Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) came out, Akinyi tried it out, and fortunately she was selected.

This is a three-month mentorship program which targets young leaders through sharing their experiences and getting expert guidance.

“It was after this program that my view of the world changed. I got into youth mentorship programs, and trying to have them be part of the decision making in government,” said Akinyi.

Betty Akinyi campaign poster. (Photo: Courtesy)

Youth advisory

Akinyi managed to get appointment into an advisory team of the Next Generation Kenya, a British Council run program on youth affairs.

This was in collaborations with Kenya’s Directorate of Youth Affairs, which saw her take part in a survey on youth issues across the country. A report from the survey later contributed greatly in the preparation of a youth policy.

Akinyi however claims that despite the good legislation targeting youths in the country, nothing much has been done to help them.

“There are lots of funds through different coffers targeting the youth, but there is no effort to have the youths access the funds, and a lot has been diverted to other things or embezzled,” said Akinyi.

She however says the challenges facing the youths emanate from the unmonitored transition from childhood to teenage and youth.

Painful childhood

She draws from her experience as a teenage mother, having got a baby at the age of 17.

“Had it not been for the strong support from my mother, I would have been married off at that age, and I could not have managed to complete school,” she says.

According to Akinyi, a number of young girls continue to lose out at teenage years due to teenage pregnancies.

“We have to come up with a support system which ensures that our young girls are empowered and protected not to get pregnant and early ages, and the young boys protected from drugs and temptations of getting into early marriages,” she said.

Her headache will however be getting the best formula to kick out Kisumu East Member of Parliament Shakeel Shabbir who will be going for his fourth term in the august house.

In his past media interviews, Shakeel has exuded confidence that he is at the heart of Kisumu East voters who have been asking him to go for the seat.

The former Kisumu Mayor has mastered the politics of the area, having initiatives which ensures distribution of maize seeds to residents, and providing sacks of maize floor, a bull and coffin whenever a family is bereaved, earning him the name ‘Onyango Wuon Mogo’ (Onyango the flour donor).

Betty Akinyi presenting a point during a past youth forum. (Photo: Courtesy)

But Akinyi seems unshaken.

“I have spent the better part of my life in the village, and I relate with the issues there,” she says.

She had gone past the first huddle of convincing her family to allow her go for the seat despite their fears previously.

“My mother and my husband thought politics is not the best option, but I convinced them that I will be going to provide leadership, and not politics. They have told me that if that is what satisfies me then I have their support,” she says.

She added: “I have fought so many battles in life which have molded me for life out there. I do not have the financial muscles to battle most of the aspirants, but I want to replace the dependent model of governance in my area to independence through real economic empowerment.”

Kevine Omollo
Lake Region Bulletin is your one stop multi-media platform for news from Lake Region Counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Vihiga, Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Kericho and Bomet. Email:

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