James Nandi, 33

Assistant County Commissioner & Chairman, Peace Ambassadors Kenya

Meru County

Long before he became a community mobiliser in the national government, James was making a big impact while still at the university.

In 2012, when the country was gearing up for the hotly contested General Elections, with fears of a repeat of the 2007/8 violence, James decided to put into action what he had learned in his sociology class to bring change.

Then, as a student at Moi University, he devised the idea to organise a peace walk traversing several counties to raise awareness. The initiative was well-received, with participants taking five days to cover the 170-kilometre journey from Eldoret to Kakamega.

The community mobilisation seed had been sowed.

"I am trying my best to paint a different picture of public service."

Following the success of the peace walk, peace clubs were established in institutions of higher learning across the country.

Later on, when he was recruited by the Administration Police Service, he pitched for the formation of the Peace Ambassadors Kenya (PAK) programme, which he has been part of for the past 11 years and serves as the chairman.

PAK is registered as a youth-led, non-profit organisation that aims to build peace and empower youth. Its goal is to create a peaceful and prosperous society by participating in community development projects. It establishes and coordinates peace clubs in universities and colleges, and its activities include peace walks, forums, and tree planting.

Under his leadership, Nyeri County held its first half marathon, after which the youth planted 5,000 trees in Tanyai Forest. He believes he has personally planted at least 3,000 trees.

When James, stationed in Meru County, is not chairing the PAK board or coordinating an event, he is in the field doing community work.

“I have stayed rooted in the community all my life. I feel more at home in the field than in the office,” he says, adding he does not believe in half-measures.

James is most proud that he has paved the way for the youth to contribute to community forums in the counties he has served. The youth’s opinions, he notes, have always been overlooked, yet they have the potential to impact change.

What does he want to change?

“I am trying my best to paint a different picture of public service.”

Marion Sitawa