MOMBASA, Kenya, Mar 4 –A public forum to deliberate on a proposal to rename the Mama Ngina Waterfront Park flopped on Wednesday after Mombasa County Assembly cancelled the event set to be held at Tononoka Social Hall.
Last week, the Mombasa County Assembly had put up an advertisement on local dailies inviting members of the public to the forum on the proposed renaming of the Mama Ngina Watefront Park.
The latest attempt to rename the park followed a petition launched last year by Okoa Mombasa, a coalition of rights lobby groups.
The lobby had urged the Mombasa County Assembly to change the name of the park refurbished at a cost of Sh460 million.
However, the much-awaited forum was cancelled in the last minute, the assembly placing another advert was placed in the local dailies announcing the event’s cancelation.
The Mombasa County Assembly Clerk asked the members of the public to submit written memoranda to his office, instead.
However, rights groups in Mombasa read mischief with the turn of events.
Khelef Khalifa, the Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) Chairperson, accused the Governor Hassan Joho-led administration of misusing public resources by placing an advert only for the event to be cancelled without a valid reason.
“We have noticed with concern that public resources are being misused. Last week, the Mombasa County advertised this forum. Today, they have also put up another advert cancelling the forum. Probably, about Sh300,000 was spent, which could have been put in better use,” said Khelef.
Aboubakar Zain, the Muhuri CEO, said Mama Ngina Waterfront Park was known as Mzimule, demanding reversion to its original name.
“That place has its history; it has its cultural ties. We want it to retain its original name of Mzimule because that is our dignity,” he said.
Fr Gabriel Dolan of the Haki Yetu Organization said the Mombasa residents will demand answers as to who is behind the cancellation of the forum.
“Whose decision was it? Was it the governor’s decision, the county assembly or even the national government?” he possed.
“We all know Mama Ngina was the First Lady of Kenya’s first President,” said Dolan.