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From MCA to street food vendor

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She served as an MCA in the first County Assembly of Lamu from 2013 to 2017, after being nominated by The New Democrats Party.

Meet 36-year-old Khadija Mohamed Hamid, the former MCA who is now a highly-paid street food vendor.

Kalume Kazungu | Nation Media Group

Before joining the assembly, Ms Hamid worked as an activist with various community based organisations in Lamu’s Old Town.

Today, Ms Hamid sells Swahili delicacies such as deep fried potatoes commonly known as viazi karai, potato cutlets with a ground meat filling called katlesi, mandazi, bhajia and samosa on the streets of Bosnia on Lamu Island.

From MCA to street food vendor: Meet 36-year-old Khadija Mohamed Hamid, the ‘Mheshimiwa’ Viazi Karai

When she started selling food, her community thought she was broke, and had been forced into the business to survive. However, she says, her new income-generating activity is a passion that happens to pay well – better than the political job, actually.

Ms Hamid has been selling Swahili dishes since 2017, after she failed to get another nomination to the county assembly.

And despite now being a food vendor, her customers still address her with the deference that came with her past office, calling her the ‘mheshimiwa’ (honourable) food vendor, says the mother of four.

The former MCA insists she is not broke, and that only her passion to serve the Lamu community made her engage in the street food business.

“This kind of business is mostly associated with people of low status, who are usually badly paid. But for me, I value it so much. Apart from enabling me to interact and directly serve my community, the business earns me more than I used to get in my previous MCA job. I don’t regret the decision at all,” says Ms Hamid.

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And one of the best things about the business of food, is that her pay comes in daily, unlike in the previous job, where she would get paid at the end of the month.

Kalume Kazungu | Nation Media Group

Her joint is always chock-full of customers, especially in the afternoon and evening hours.

“Sometimes I am overwhelmed with customers buying my fried potatoes, potato chips, cutlets and bhajia and samosa. I prepare and sell these foods myself,” she says.

However, Ms Hamid does not rule out returning to the county assembly.

“I wasn’t nominated there only to earn a salary, but rather, to fight for the rights of my people. Today, I am here as a food seller in this street, but don’t be surprised to see me back in the house in the coming years. I am still in politics,” said Ms Hamid.

She advises youth and women not to focus too much on acquiring education with the aim of getting employed afterwards. She blames the Kenyan education system for playing a major role in the high unemployment rate in the country.

“Instead of idling around as we wait to be employed, let’s rise up to the occasion by engaging in any kind of work, including street vending of food and hawking, and we will succeed. There is a lot of opportunity in this country. Let’s explore such opportunities and improve our lives,” says Ms Hamid.

Her customers praised her for being a good cook. Others are drawn by her personality.

Mr Hussein Farid says he likes buying Ms Hamid’s food due to her humility and warm nature.

Kalume Kazungu | Nation Media Group

“Not all people who have served as MCAs can be as down-to-earth as Ms Hamid. She always smiles as she serves customers. That’s why I don’t buy food in any other place except hers,” says Mr Farid.

Hongwe Ward MCA James Komu, who served in the first Lamu County Assembly with Ms Hamid praised her for her determination and hard work.

“She is an inspiration to many of us. Some people, particularly politicians become shy of doing menial jobs, especially after serving in big positions in society. We need to realise that after all, life has to go on, like what Ms Hamid does,” says Mr Komu.

skazungu@ke.nationmedia.com

By nation.co.ke

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