Sam is the type of person who starts off a meeting by quoting Paulo Freire’s, “Pedaagogy of the Oppressed,” that is to say, a natural activist! “When I was in school, I always found myself being the guy who said what needed to be said,” Sam shares with a laugh, “I’m not sure how it happened but I was always playing the advocate.”
Sam Mbiu comes from a historically socially and politically active family. “My grandfather and father were always political, and my grandmother’s sister was one of the leaders of the Maendeleo ya Wanawake movement in Kiambu,” reveals Sam. He says that it’s no surprise that he wound up as a law student, excited to embark on a long career of advocacy.
Sam has never shied away from having difficult conversations nor is he afraid of winding up on authorities bad side. “I never want to sit aside and allow a bad situation to continue,” Sam asserts. This desire to rectify problems has led Sam to launch his Tatua campaign; he aims to improve reproductive health outcomes for young people in Kawangware, where he spent part of his childhood. “There were people in my family – very young people – who ended up being parents before they were really ready to be,” explains Sam, “I knew that if they had had access to better family planning, the outcomes would have been different.”
Now as the Coordinator for Youth Programs at Sauti ya Jamii, (“Voice of the Community”); a group that seeks to empower young people with information to change their mindsets. Sam is able to draw from his background as a representative voice to direct grassroots programming for young Kenyans, especially those living in informal settlements. His role at Sauti ya Jamii presents a unique opportunity for his work as a Tatua Fellow because he is able to run the campaign as one of his programs, providing crucial organizational support for him.
When asked about some of the challenges that he has faced in this work, Sam shares that conservative values have sometimes gotten in the way of the work. “Sometimes school officials are hesitant to let us speak to students because they think we’re encouraging young people to have sex,” says Sam, “But the reception from young people and high school students proves that our work is necessary.”
As the Youth Chair for the Kenya Red Cross in Kiambu, and a member of the legal team at U-GEN – a platform that hopes to represent youth interests at a national level – Sam is no stranger to leadership. Keeping busy by speaking out, Sam has a bright future in activism in Kenya.
Join us in supporting Sam and our other incredible fellows as they build power in their communities. Fill out this form for updates and information about how you can get involved.