Canada Kenya: The "Mama Mboga" place their last hopes in the future president

12:20  13 august  2022
12:20  13 august  2022 Source:   francetvinfo.fr

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Agneta Ambane (à gauche), une vendeuse de légumes ( © Simon Maina Agneta Ambane (left), a vegetable saleswoman ("Mama Mboga") at the Eldoret market, in Kenya, 12 August 2022.

behind his makeshift stall, a plastic tarpaulin placed on the ground dotted with spinach boots and Kale leaves, Agneta Muhonja Ambane has a tired look.

This 68-year-old grandmother did not return home last night. She preferred to sleep "in the cold" in a corner of the Eldoret market, a city in the center of Kenya, for fear of finding her owner at her home who claims her rent that she can no longer pay.

Agneta is a "Mama Mboga" ("Maman vegetables" in Kiswahili), as found everywhere along the streets, by the roads in Kenya. These mothers sell some fruits, vegetables, beans or fried fish to bring their homes to life.

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Agneta has been selling vegetables since she was eight years old. But "today it's really hard, life is too expensive," she sighs.

Kenya faces a flambée in food and petrol prices, started with the Pandemic of Covid-19 and aggravated by the war in Ukraine. Inflation reached 8.3% in July and the cost of living was at the heart of the presidential election held on Tuesday.

Des marchandes de légumes kényanes, ou © Simon Maina Kenyan vegetable merchants, or "Mama Mboga", on their market stalls in Eldoret, August 12, 2022.

The child of the country, the outgoing vice-president William Ruto who is among the two Favorites, erected as a spokesperson for "resourceful" ("Hustlers") which fight to reach both ends. His rival Raila Odonga, a historic opponent now supported by outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta, also promised to improve the fate of the small people.

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After having voted, the "Mama Mboga" of Eldoret now wait for the elected candidate - whose identity is not yet known - holding his promises.

- Sale at a loss -

for them, the situation becomes serious. Customers are becoming increasingly rare.

The meager income from Agneta Muhonja Ambane melted. "Sometimes you are going to make a profit of only 100 shillings (80 cents, editor's note) in one day. What are you going to buy with 100 shillings?", Explains this grandmother of 27 grandchildren, arms Crossed on his orange checkered apron: "And you think it is possible to support my family with these vegetables? This is not possible".

Julia Chepchirchir (à gauche), une marchande de légumes ou © Simon Maina Julia Chepchirchir (left), a vegetable merchant or "Mama Mboga", waits for the client in a Eldoret market, in central Kenya, August 12, 2022.

"when you get sick , you cannot afford to go to the hospital. Either you choose to have food in the stomach or go to the hospital, "she continues, before interrupting.

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A client requires the price of spinach. A few words exchanged and she leaves. "I told her 20 shillings (15 cents, editor's note). She wanted 10, but I buy her at 15!", Explains Agneta, disappointed.

At the end of a neighboring street, Julia Chepchirchir decided to sell at a loss. "Otherwise, I don't sell anything," explains this single mother, with an entrenched head of a pink scarf.

"From the covid, we turn in slow motion. We hope that after the elections, everything will be better. We try to sell but people do not buy, money does not circulate (...) I don't know Why prices have increased so much, I have never known that, "she adds.

- "No other choice" -

This forties, who lives with his "three babies" of 20, 18 and 14 years old, has given up the Ugali, a dish based on corn flour which is the food of Base in Kenya: "Corn flour is too expensive, I have to eat rice and potatoes".

"I no longer eat neither fish nor meat", confirms her stall neighbor, Gladys Nyaaanga Yeno: "We only eat vegetables, but not tomatoes because it is too expensive. Sugar, soap, Corn flour ... everything has increased ".

"We need government help. We have to pay for tuition fees, rent, some of our children become street children," continues this 35 -year -old woman.

More and more Kenyans deplore the unwenting promises of the political class to help the "Mwananchi", the average citizen. For some, this explains abstention on Tuesday, at almost 35%.

But for the "Mama Mboga", "we have no choice but to hope", slides Gladys Nyaaanga Yeno.

"If it continues like that, old women like me will die because of the cost of living and stress that it causes," says Agneta, looking in the void: "Sometimes I tell myself that it would be better to die And rest. This is not how a human being should live. And there are so many people in this situation. "


to the Kenyan presidential election, the historical breakthrough of women on the political scene .
© Reuters - Monicah Mwangi of the delegates of various political parties and representatives of the electoral commission and the independent borders (IEBC) at the National Center of 'IEBC, at the Bomas of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya, on August 11, 2022. on August 9, the voters voted for their president but also several local elected officials, and the candidates obtained a record number of positions.

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