NGO boss feted for saving play grounds from land grabbers
Amnesty International Kenya chairperson Renee Ngamau has been feted for her efforts to defend public playing grounds and open spaces.
Ngamau, who is also the chairperson of the Jamhuri Phase One Residents Association, was awarded the United Success Global Award dubbed Women Moving Mountains in recognition of her efforts to keep a private developer from grabbing public land in the estate set aside as a playing ground.
Last month Ngamau mobilised residents to hold peaceful protests to oppose the private development of the land, leading to her arrest. She was later released without any charge.
“I dedicate this award to each of the members of the leadership of Jamhuri Estate committee for your commitment, dedication, bravery, vision and leadership and to the residents of Jamhuri estate for their steadfast refusal to accept intimidation by land grabbers and dedication to the preservation of green spaces,” she said.
In an interview with People Daily, Ngamau said she was elated to be a recipient of the award and credited successive leadership in the Jamhuri Estate residents association for fighting to keep public spaces from the hands of land grabbers.
“I felt vindicated that the work our committee is doing has received global recognition. We are not alone in the fight to protect playing fields.
The truth is the fight for public spaces and playing fields is often unseen, but there are many residents groups in Langata, Kitisuru, Muthaiga, Mathare, Kariobangi and other estates who are putting in a lot of effort to get back grabbed public spaces,” she said.
Ngamau said children deserve a space to play and it is wrong to allow grabbers to take over land that has been designated as open spaces for them to play in.
“Children should not be playing in between cars and apartments or watching TV the whole day because they do not have a safe space to play. This is affecting their eyesight and cognitive abilities.
They deserve the dignity and right to have a space to play. Children are not a nuisance and the government should take action against those intent on grabbing playing grounds,” she said.
The award, she said, has given the fight for playing fields and open spaces a global platform and sends a strong message to those in authority that they cannot continue to ignore the voice of residents.