In the bustling streets of Nairobi, a heartbreaking incident recently unfolded, shedding light on the challenges faced by the city’s hawkers, particularly the vulnerable.
Kenyans are filled with sympathy for a physically disabled woman in confrontation with city askaris after they impounded her wares and pushed her off her chair.
A video comes shortly after last weeks chaotic scenes in the CBD with mayai smokie vendors engaged in a clash with askaris.
The woman in the video falls off the chair and pleads to be left alone. It happened on Oct 3, but went viral on Oct 20.
The details about the woman are now emerging after Eric Omondi searched for her and she also spoke up in an interview with Mungai Eve.
When the video went viral, public outrage soon ensued with most Kenyans piling on the County Government accusing its officers of operating with impunity. Most Kenyans also pointed out that it was in the same week that the officers harassed smokie vendors and destroyed their carts.
As of Monday morning, Eric Omondi announced that well-wishers had contributed a total of Ksh 817,000 with contributions closing in on Ksh1 million.
”Thank you very much to all who contributed and may God bless you,” Mary said acknowledging her well-wishers through Eric Omondi’s channels.
The disabled woman’s name is Mary Consolata Achieng Otieno.
She is a single mother of five children and lives in a single room with them. Three are her biological children, the other two are adopted.
The incident involved Mary Consolata Achieng Otieno, a physically disabled single mother of five, who found herself in a confrontation with city askaris after they impounded her wares and callously pushed her off her chair.
Mary Consolata, known as Mary to her friends and customers, has faced unimaginable hardships throughout her life.
Afflicted with Polio at the age of ten, she persevered through therapy and education provided by the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK).
Despite her disability, she chose not to succumb to a life of begging but instead became a hawker, selling beauty items on the streets of Nairobi for over two decades.
Her tenacity and determination to provide for her children have kept her going.
In a recent interview with Mungai Eve, Mary shared her story of resilience.
She revealed that she was abandoned by her husband, leaving her to raise their five children, three of whom are her biological offspring, while the other two are adopted.
“I was ten years with Polio, when I was taken to APDK and given therapy and given metals, and taken to school”
She has faced hardship ever since. She has been a hawker for over 20 years
“It has been very hard hawking with city council, they come and grab our stuff, then friends come together and contribute, every time. This is what I educate my children with, that is how I have lived my life”
“I was married, but my husband left me with the children. He went and got remarried, and I continued with my life and my children’s lives, hawking,” she said, her voice a testament to her strength.
Mary’s encounter with the askaris occurred on a seemingly ordinary day at 7 p.m.
One of the askaris, whom she recognized, approached her, demanding a bribe to allow her to continue her business in peace.
She staunchly refused, unwilling to succumb to corruption.
In retaliation, the askari returned with another man, and they callously threw her off her chair, subsequently impounding her wares, which included shower caps and hairbands.
She would rather hawk than beg
“I have never wanted to beg, I prefer to work hiyo shiling mtu anakuptupoia huujui anakutupia na roho gani, hiyo shilingi nilikataa”
She hawks beauty items.
“It happened saa saba mchana with an askari I know. I know all of them, I can name them. He first came and reminded me that I need to part with hongo to stay where I was.
I refused,I asked him how much he wanted and he said sh500. I told him I won’t part with a bribe, then he returned with another man and they threw me off my chair.
They started impounding my wares.”
Despite her ordeal, Mary reported the incident to the council’s director, Mr. Omondi, who intervened and resolved the matter.
However, her story is not an isolated incident; many hawkers in Nairobi face similar challenges daily.