African Social Justice Network Women in Social Justice Centres

African Women Shaping Democracy

Two powerful women at MSJC, Rahma Wako and Njeri Mwangi, were featured in Luminate’s “African Women Shaping Democracy” article.

We celebrate the important work that Rahma and Njeri are doing, and continue to be inspired by their work to build community power and dignity.

Viva Mama Rahma and Njeri viva!

EJE Campaign Police Brutality

Police Use of Lethal Force – Report

MSJC was part of a collaborative study on the use of lethal force by the police. The purpose of the study was “to analyse the use of force by the police in Kenya” in 2021.

This important study brings together the work of organisations including the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU), the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI), the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF), MSJC and Laboratorio de Analise de Violencia.

The critical findings and recommendations in the report are accessible through this link:

African Social Justice Network

Building African Movements

Between November 2 – 4, 2022, there was a convening of social justice movements from diverse African contexts in Nairobi, Kenya. This meeting was organized by the Tshisimani Centre For Activist Education and hosted by Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC), and is intended to build-up to a larger convening in Africa in 2022: where social movements in Southern and East Africa will come together to share strategies’, learn, and strengthen activism.

The two-day gathering brought a lot of learning through group discussions, readings, artistic processes, engaging pedagogy, cultural night, and site visits to the Ukombozi library, Mathare Social Justice Centre, and Kayole Social Justice Centre.

You can download the report of the convening here:

EJE Campaign Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network Police Brutality

Charge Killer-Cop Rashid!

After many years of community appeals, and the brave work of activists, killer-cop Rashid is scheduled to face his day in court, since the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) have accepted IPOA’s investigations about his role in the killing of two youth in Pangani — killings that were filmed and were broadcast across the nation five years ago in 2017.

We are here to say, as we have been documenting since 2016, that killer-cop Rashid has killed many more of our brothers, some of them as young as 12 years. We document and keep documenting. For those defending him, and as he continues to protest his innocence, please see here a list of 43 young people killed by Rashid in Mathare and more in our 2017 report: Who is Next.

This list was compiled by Mothers of Victims and Survivors in Mathare, whose children have also been killed by police bullets.

We will not be silent. We will be in court to watch the prosecution of Rashid. And we will keep fighting for our children.

1.Christopher Maina21/02/201725yrsMlango kubwa
2.Clinton Kioko16/06/201718yrs 
3.Peter Gachichi Gitau01/01/201720yrsMlango Kubwa
4.Kelvin Gitau14/04/201925yrsEastleigh
5.Paul Munyoki Monthe31/12/201719yrsMlango Kubwa
6.Dennis Mugambi07/12/201618yrs 
7.Mbatia 30/11/2016  
8.Saidi 18/04/201618yrs 
9.Nicholas Maina Gitau20/05/2018  
10.Francis Karani8/04/2017 Mlango Kubwa
11.Papa   Mlango Kubwa
12.Josh   Mlango Kubwa
13.Santos   Mlango Kubwa
14.Tobias 5/05/202017yrsBH
15.Jarred Nyausi1/03/2021 Mlango Kubwa
16.Abdul 17/05/202119yrs 
17.Marcus Irungu1/03/202112yrsMathare 3c
18.Samuel Ngure and 2 others24/08/2019 Mlango Kubwa
19.Emmanuel Chaku20/05/202127yrsMlango Kubwa
20.Brian  17yrsWhite Castle
21.Peter   White Castle
22.Ian Mutiso9/08/202124yrsMlango Kubwa
23.Francis Ondego 27yrs 
24.Fadhili Mohammed 22yrs 
25.Pato  21yrs 
26.Calvin Ochieng 22yrs 
27.Maurice Odhiambo 23yrs 
28.Mavine Ochieng  18yrs 
29.Kelvin Omondi  Mathare 4A
30.Alex Mwangi09/08/201919yrsMathare 3C
31.Cosmos Muteithia25/12/201722yrsJuja Road
32.Joseph Kahara27/05/201718yrsMlango Kubwa
33.John Kibe29/04/2021 Mlango Kubwa
34.Joseph Mbuthia Kamau 28/01/2018 Mlango Kubwa
35.Oredo  20yrsBH
36.Peter Maina7/05/201821yrsMlango Kubwa
37.Benson Karindo17/04/201921yrsMlango Kubwa
38.Charles Njogu23/01/2010  
39.2 unknown9/08/2021 Amana petrol Station
40. Amos Kangara11/10/202019yrsPangani
41.Tobias Omondi29/05/202033yrsEastleigh
42.George Odhiambo29/05/2020  
43.Unknown 15/8/2021 Kambi Safi

Art for Social Change Maji ni Haki/Water Campaign

Maji ni Haki!

Where is the water for our people? And what challenges do they face trying to make sure they can get enough for their families everyday?

Our Art for Social Change campaign made a song about water struggles, and it features powerful commentary and activists from across Nairobi.

Big up to the artists and to Hood Creation for the images and sound. We are also grateful to Mary Lawhon and the Examining nature-society relations through urban infrastructure project (project number: P19-0286:1)  for the support!

See the video above!

Elections Police Brutality Social Justice Centres Social Justice Centres Working Group

Saba Saba 2022 Edition

For the 5th year in a row, the Social Justice Centres Working Group (SJCWG) organised the annual Saba Saba March For Our Lives, commemorating and building on the pro-democracy struggles of the early 1990s. Over 1500 people, mostly young and many women, marched from their communities demanding a NJAA Revolution (a ‘hunger’ revolution), lower food prices, an end to police brutality and justice for all.

Our collective petition to the president, highlighting the high cost of living, enduring police brutality and public debt levels, among other concerns, is available for download here:

Below a pictures from this powerful march.

Organic Intellectuals Network Police Brutality Social Justice Centres Women in Social Justice Centres

The Unreformable Police Force

By Faith Kasina and Gathang’a Ndungu

The 21st century police have become the law enforcers, the jury and the executioners. To the rich, they are the protectors of their assets and wealth but to the poor, the police seem to be criminals in uniforms, sanctioned by the state against them. They seem to have been created by the elite class to police over the poor.

Global Movements & Protests Against Police Brutality

Police misconduct and abuse of power has been an ongoing debate for a long time due to the series of cases reported world wide, ranging from arbitrary arrests, harassments, torture, enforced disappearances (ED’s) and extra judicial executions (EJE’s), among other criminal activities. The police force has for long been used as a tool of repression to the masses rather than maintaining peace and order as it should be. These traits of police abuse of power have manifested themselves in both developed and developing countries. 

In some countries like the US, the issue is intricately intertwined with the issue of racism compounded together with the historical injustices from slavery, and subsequent repression. With the loose gun control regulations, the police find a leeway to use force on black populations in the pretext of drugs and illegal firearms mop-up.

The US has a long history of police repression on the poor black communities and the Hispanic migrants. The history of US has been tied to the slave trade during the Trans-Atlantic Trade. The southern states which were historically agricultural states depended fully on slave trade which came from the black people taken from Africa. This unequal society is what the Black people found themselves in. 

It was a system that was in all means set against them on political and socio-economic aspects. 

The police force took the states mantle to continue perpetuating racism against the oppressed poor black populations in the ghettos. It is against this backdrop that black movements such as the Black Panther Party and other civil rights movements rose against this systematic racism. Malcom X in his tour to Africa noted that the violence the people of Algeria went through in the hands of the French police was the same faced by the black people back in the US.

In 2020, we witnessed major protests around the world in solidarity for George Floyd who was killed in broad daylight by police officers in Minnesota. The protests which started in Minneapolis spread to other cities such as Berlin, London, Paris, Johannesburg, among others. The outrage was fuelled by the systematic target on black men in the US and the fact that the suspect was unarmed and had already been subdued by the two police officers filmed arresting him. From the footage taken, one of the police officers’ was kneeling on his neck in a chokehold position despite the plea by the suspect that he couldn’t breathe. This was not an isolated case but one among many that have been common in black dominated neighbourhoods in the US. 

Excessive use of police force was also witnessed during the Hong Kong Protests during the Anti-Extradition Amendment Bill of 2019-2020. During these protests, the Hong Kong Police was under harsh criticism due to the excessive force used and also the unjustified use of water cannons, both live and rubber bullets, tear gas among other weapons. Hong Kong has been a semi-autonomous region from 1979 controlling their economy while still under Mainland China through what has been touted as ‘one country, two systems.’  The extradition bill allowed for extradition to Mainland China. This was seen as a way of China controlling the Hong Kong’s Judicial arm. Pro-democracy protesters poured in the streets to demand for rejection of this bill. The subsequent crackdown on protesters sparked outrage leading to more protests against the bill and also police use of force, arbitrary arrests and brutality. The Chinese government also helped the Hong Kong police to do massive surveillance on the protesters. 

Similar demonstrations followed in Nigeria against the SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad), which was a special unit created by the Nigerian Government to tame violent and organised crime. EndSARS Protests began as an online campaign against this notorious unit in 2017, which had a long history of police brutality, extortions and killings. In October 2020, the unit was linked to many other cases of extra judicial killings, use of force, abductions and arbitrary arrests. The young males in Nigeria had been the primary target of this unit just as in the US. They targeted young Nigerians by profiling them based on their fashion such as hairstyles and tattoo among others. Several cases of extortions by mounting illegal road blocks and searches had been documented without justice being served for the victims.

In other cases, women were tortured and raped. This led to demonstrations that birthed the EndSARS Movement which pushed for the disbanding of this unit. Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians poured in the streets of different town and cities to demand for its disbandment. The young population made the bulk of the demonstrators as they had endured these injustices for long. Social media influencers, musicians and the diaspora Nigerian population gave their solidarity on online platforms forcing Buhari’s regime to offer a concession ground. The unit was disbanded although there was no formation of an inquiry body to look into the injustices, violations and the victims of SARS. After the unit was disbanded, the movement has continued to push for other socio-economic and political reforms in Nigeria such as good governance and accountability, by holding corrupt leaders accountable for their actions. The Nigeria government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria, went ahead to freeze bank accounts of notable protesters to stall and cripple the movement.

Despite the many calls for reforms, defunding from other quarters and abolition from some, there have never been any meaningful changes to the police around the world as the systems that create them are the same throughout — helping to serve the same purpose regardless of the country. Historically, the creation of a police force is said to have been necessitated by the rising cases of violence and lawlessness in the society. This forced the rulers to come up with a unit to maintain peace, law and order. The first recorded evidence dates back to 3000 BCE in Egypt and its rise is credited with the need to protect the ruling families and their areas of jurisdictions. With time, the need to protect private property owned by the rich merchants became another pressing reason and, due to these factors, the police force has evolved as new needs emerged. However, the basic structures, training and modus operandi has been maintained with little or no change over the ages.

The Kenyan Context of a Police State: a Historical Perspective

In Kenya, the first formal police unit was created by the British Government in 1907 as the British Colonial Police Force. Before this, the only communities that had some kind of police units were the coastal communities under Omani Arabs and some sultans. From 1887 to 1902, policing was done by the Imperial British East Africa Company. This unit was created to protect the commercial interests of this company in the vast region covering Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and some parts of Tanzania. Kenya Railways introduced their police units in 1902 to protect their main infrastructural project; Kenya-Uganda Railway. The Askaris, as they were called, were stationed in Mombasa, Nairobi and Kisumu to protect the business interests of this company and the white settlers in the country. They protected the workers building the railway from Mombasa, through Nairobi to Kisumu. They also protected the raw materials and other goods being transported from the hinterlands to the coastal town of Mombasa. 

The Making of a Police State

This police unit evolved along the years as the British government continued with their rule in the region. To effectively subdue the population, they used divide and rule tactics, whereby they recruited one community to serve under their units as homeguards and set them against other communities. This ensured that the communities were always fighting each other rather than fighting the colonial government. This police state is what Kenya inherited as a country. The successive regimes that followed maintained these units without reforming them. They used the police to protect their newly acquired wealth and also to repress any dissident voices that questioned their authority. Through them, several arrests were made, some enforced disappearances and deaths. Kenya’s first post-independence assassination was the killing of General Baimunge, who was a general in Kenya Land and Freedom Army (KFLA) and one of Dedan Kimathi’s confidants, who led the KFLA battalions on the East side of Mount Kenya forest covering Meru and Embu. His death was carried out by the police who were under the instructions of the first Kenyan Prime Minister, Jomo Kenyatta. This was the first betrayal committed by the first post-colonial government on its war heroes. Under Moi’s rule, they were empowered even more with the creation of special units for torture of political detainees, during his authoritarian rule that went for 24 years. Prisoners of conscious includeMaina Wa Kinyatti, Koigi Wamwere, Karimi Nduthu, GPO Oulu and Oscar Kamau King’ara, among many others.

Karimi Nduthu 

Karimi was a renowned activist during Moi’s regime. He was the Secretary General of the Release Political Prisoners (RPP) pressure group and also served as the Mwakenya National Coordinator. Karimi was initiated into radical politics by the December 12 Movement (DTM) literature which included Pambana, Cheche and later Mwakenya materials. Karimi was from Molo and he investigated the Molo massacre and ethnic clashes during the Moi regime. Moi was a ruthless dictator who never hesitated to silence any dissident voices that seemed to oppose his iron fist rule. He made organizing a challenge for political activists and university students. This forced many of them to organize in hiding while only a few dared him. Karimi was expelled from the University of Nairobi for his activism as a student leader in February 1985 before he could complete his degree in engineering. He was arrested in 1986 for being a member of Mwakenya and was jailed for 6yrs at the dreaded Naivasha Maximum Prison. He was later released in 1992 after the The Mothers of Political Prisoners Campaign piled pressure on the Moi regime to release the political prisoners. Immediately after his release from prison, he went straight to All Saints Cathedral where the mothers of political prisoners and members of Release Political Prisoners had camped. They continued to pile pressure by camping at the cathedral until all the prisoners were released. On the night of March 23 1996, Karimi was brutally murdered by the infamous Jeshi la Mzee murder squad at his Riruta home by a vicious youth militia run by the Moi government, and the then ruling party, KANU. Neighbours recounted how the police, who appeared immediately at the murder scene seemed to have been there to confirm the activist’s death. To make it look like a burglary and or a theft scene, they took his possessions including books and cassettes and manuscript. His murder is among many questionable murders and assassinations carried out by Moi’s regime through the help of his secret police squads.

The Assassination of GPO Oulu & Oscar Kamau King’ara

George Paul Oulu also known as Oulu GPO was a Kenyan human rights activist and a former vice chairman of the Students Organization of Nairobi University (SONU) and Oscar Kingara’s assistant. Oscar Kamau Kingara was a Kenyan lawyer and a human rights activist; the founder and director of Oscar Foundation Free Legal Aid Clinic, a human rights organization based in Nairobi. On March 5 2009, the two were assassinated while sitting in a rush hour traffic in Nairobi. Their assassination is widely attributed to their work in documenting police killings. All the leads pointed to elements within the Kenyan security forces and police as responsible for the assassinations. 

The GPO Oulu, Karimi Nduthu and Oscar Kingara stories all show how extra judicial executions are deep rooted and systemic in Kenya. The denial of justice to the victims to date shows how the justice system has been rigged against a section of Kenyans. 

The police force has been maintained to this date to serve the ruling class and their interests in the country, without any regard for the poor majority in Kenya. The fundamental structures of the police force haven’t changed since the colonial era, despite the many calls for reforms in training, service delivery, maintenance of law and order, impartiality in carrying out their duties, professionalism and their attitude and relationship with the citizens they police. The Kenyan set up shows a force that has been trained to protect the elite in a country with glaring economic disparities between the ultra-rich, who have controlled the country since independence, and the malnourished poor populations who survive on meagre daily wages. To control these hungry and angry masses, the police force has been very active, and more so in the poor urban informal settlements and slums such as Mathare, Kibera, Kayole, Dandora, Kayole, Mukuru and Kariobangi. These areas that harbour majority of the poor in Nairobi are highly policed not to offer protection, but to pacify and repress them into submission. It is from these areas that many cases of extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and extortions are reported weekly.

Police violations & abuses under the guide of special operations & crackdowns in Kenya.

Special operations and crackdowns in Kenya have provided ample justification for the use of force, coercion, mass arbitrary arrests with subsequent disregard of the rights of arrested persons, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances. From the crackdown on multi-party democracy crusaders, Marxist-Leninist ideologues, Mungiki, the 2007/08 post-election violence, the Mombasa Republican Council, the anti-terrorism fight, crime in informal settlements to the Covid 19 lockdown, the state has always flexed its muscles on unarmed civilians and created fear in communities through the police force.

In 2006 and 2007, the state launched an operation to crackdown on the outlawed Mungiki Sect which had taken hold of Nairobi, Central and some parts of Rift Valley region. This group incorporated religious, cultural and political issues. They kept dreadlocks, just as the Mau Mau rebels did, to show their ties to the country’s freedom fighters. Their oath takings, which were rumoured to involve use of human blood, and subsequent killings that were linked to the group, invited the government to start a crackdown. Mathare and other slums in Nairobi, and other regions in Central Kenya, suffered a huge blow as hundreds of youths were killed by police and many others disappeared during the same time. According to a report released by a group of lawyers, more than 8040 young Kenyans were executed or tortured to death since 2002, during the five-year police crackdown on the outlawed Mungiki sect under President Mwai Kibaki’s reign.

During the 2007 – 2008 post-election violence, around 1,200 Kenyans lost their lives and the police were used to kill people from the zones termed as opposition. A majority of these killings happened in informal urban settlements in Mombasa, Nairobi and Kisumu, with most of the deaths being as a result of police excesses. To date, the National Police Service (NPS) has never been held accountable for the atrocities committed to its own people. In Kenya, the police force has also been bashed for being impartial in their work, more so during election periods.

The Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) was an organization formed in 1990 by separatists who wanted the coastal part of Kenya to secede. In their efforts, they quoted historical pacts made at independence by Jomo Kenyatta, who was Kenya’s first Prime Minister, with the leadership of Zanzibar, which handed over the coastal strip to Kenya under a lease. They claimed that the lease period was over and it was time to form their own republic. The movement subsided over the years, only to be revitalized in 2008 with their vocal leaders pointing to the thorny issue of land in Kenya, marginalization and skewed development. Under the Pwani Si Kenya (Coast region is not part of Kenya) slogan, they rallied residents to join them with instances of oath taking in coastal forests being reported. The government responded by deploying contingents of police officers who used excessive force on citizens, including women and children. Most of the leaders were detained and some forced to denounce their stand. With the creation of a decentralized government in 2013, after the first election under the 2010 Constitution of Kenya, the movement waned as the creation of county governments gave the coastal people a sense of control of their issues through local governments.

When the Kenyan army entered Somalia supposedly to help the Somali Government fight Al-Shabaab, there were increased cases of terrorist activities in the country as a retaliatory response from the outfit. This led to a crackdown on citizens of Somali origin, and the Muslim populations at large in Kenya. Mombasa and Nairobi became hotbeds of police crackdown by the dreaded Anti-Terrorist Police Unit (ATPU), which rounded-up and arrested hundreds of suspects, some of whom were innocent, and held them in different stations for more than 24 hours without producing them in courts as required. Many Muslim male residents of Eastleigh and Majengo in Nairobi fled as searches were being carried out in mosques and homes. In Mombasa and other coastal areas, young Muslims and clerics were reported to have been killed during this operation, with some being abducted by plain cloth police officers, never to be seen. Some of these abductions and arrests have been carried out in front of families and friends.

The fight against crime in the informal settlements seems to be a war against the poor young Black males in the Kenyan ghettos. Their poverty has made them to be criminalized, along with their dreadlocks, which are used to profile them while labelling them criminals. This has led to the execution and disappearance of many in the hands of the police. Each informal settlement has a renowned killer police officer who seems to be backed by the state. Kayole, Mathare and Dandora all have these serial killers in police uniform, who have taken the role of judiciary to issue instant ‘justice’ to alleged law breakers. The realization that what the government was doing was cleansing young people in the informal settlements, led to the mushrooming of community based organizations to fight this injustice and bring to light and call out the massacre of the ghetto people by their own government. 

The Social Justice Movement & The Fight Against EJEs

The Social Justice Centres Working Group (SJCWG) is the decision making body of the Social Justice Centres Movement, which is the umbrella body that brings together all the social justice centres in Kenya. These social justice centres act as human rights defenders’ centres based in the communities. They are formed by the members of the community to find solutions to the pertinent challenges in the communities. SJCWG has over 60 centres spread across the country organizing on different political, socio-economic and cultural issues.

The social justice centres movement continues to organize around extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances. To document these cases, different partners came up with The Missing Voices website, and, so far, 1226 extrajudicial execution cases and 275 enforced disappearance cases have been documented since 2007. The Missing Voices website is supported by Amnesty International-Kenya, Peace Brigades International-Kenya, International Justice Mission, HAKI Africa, MUHURI, Defenders Coalition, ICTJ, International Commission of Jurists, Kituo Cha Sheria, Kenya Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Watch, CODE for AFRICA, Heinrich Bӧll Stiftung, ODIPODEEV, Protection International-Kenya and SJCWG. These partners help to document, provide legal aid to victims and their kin, offer referral, psycho-social support, among other services. This documentation helps to fill in the evidentiary gap by layering victims’ testimony with quantitative data. It also creates a platform where one can report, sign petitions and follow trials of such cases, as well as offer support. Its mission is to end enforced disappearance and extrajudicial executions in Kenya, which have become rampant in recent times.

The SJCWG operates under committees, and the Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network (MVSN) is one of the pillar committees. The MVSN brings together mothers of victims and survivors of police brutality to provide a platform where they can share their experiences. This also act as a social circle to enable the survivors to start the healing process, as they offer each other a shoulder to lean on. They actively engage in documentation and follow up of EJE’s and ED’ cases in the community, and then offer referrals to the right organizations. They have also been involved in publicizing their work and creating awareness about the government’s role in the protection of the dignity of human life as enshrined in Article 26 of our constitution. 

Licensed to Kill: A Killer Cop Breed

The Kenya Police seems to have been licenced by the state to do a mass cleansing of ‘criminals’ in the slums. In Nairobi Eastlands, “innocent till proven guilty” exists only in papers as the police kill without any regard for the law. More than fifty years after independence, our police force still borrows heavily from the colonial police in its mode of operation. 

During our struggle for independence, the colonial police used the media as a propaganda tool to create fear and panic among the natives. Whenever a fighter was captured or killed, the images of their mutilated bodies would be published on the front pages of the local dailies to demoralize the fighters. One of the images that was highly circulated was that of Dedan Kimathi lying on a stretcher handcuffed. This was to bring the Mau Mau on its knees as they believed that he was the main leader of Mau Mau. Today, the social media has taken the role of the local dailies. The killer police use Facebook pages to spread their propaganda leading to self-exiling of youths due to fear. The police have become bold in their nefarious activities as they issue warnings to their targets on Facebook, with the photos of the target which they then go ahead to actualize without any fear of repercussion. Just like the colonial police, they post the badly mutilated bodies with warnings to other youths involved in crime. 

The police also seem to be taking new methods to avoid leaving a trace behind of their activities. Instead of the bullet, their victims are being strangled and their bodies dumped in places far away from their homes or where they were abducted. In an expose by a local media house, most of the bodies found dumped in River Yala had these signs and the victims had an involvement in crime pointing to a secret group cracking down on criminals. This special police unit is not created to follow the normal procedures of law but rather break the law at all cost.

Nearly each neighbourhood in Nairobi’s Eastlands has a known killer police officer who operates in the area. Despite the overwhelming evidence against these officers, the state seems unwilling to take action on them, and the only action taken is transfer and re-shuffling of the officers from one area to another.

The government has invested heavily on arming our police force, while still spending inadequate amounts on social security programs, job creation and provision of social services, which would help to drastically reduce the crime rate. The state has also neglected the well-being of its police officers as mental health issues and low wages demoralize the force from within, amongst other challenges such as poor working conditions. These problems compounded have in a way contributed to the many suicide cases in the force, the increased cases of homicides among police officers, misuse of fire arms and involvement in illegal activities such as robbery with violence and collaboration with criminal networks.

The threat the police pose to the public is immense, and Kenyans seem to be sitting on a time bomb ready to explode, when you imagine a fully armed police officer, underpaid by the government, working in poor and harsh conditions, traumatised by work, being oppressed by the seniors and with no psycho-social support systems in the force, and trying to survive the harsh economic conditions. These conditions create an environment for mental instability among the junior officers. 

The Role of Women in the Fight Against EJEs

Movements have always propped up to deal with human rights abuses by the state. Women have been part and parcel of organizing and confronting the ills in the community, as well as upsetting the status quo. Women in Kenya have participated in all aspects of the struggle, and they continue to do so to this day.

During the Moi regime when the government arrested young people and put them in prisons, mothers of those political prisoners and other women camped at Uhuru Park and piled pressure on the government to release the political prisoners. The government was adamant and this led to the women stripping and going on a silent strike until Moi’s government started releasing the prisoners. The women fought for their sons until they were all released. 

From the defiance of Mekatili wa Menza and Muthoni Nyanjiru against the colonial police during the invasion of our territories, to Field Marshal Muthoni Kirima who fought alongside men during the Mau Mau years, to second liberation heroes such as Wangari Maathai, women have led by example by showing bravery and defiance against the skewed system being enforced through the police. This baton has been passed to MVSN which continues to organize against these atrocities being committed by the police in poor neighbourhoods. Being victims, survivors and witnesses of police injustices, these women chose to rise above their anger and setbacks and channel their energy and efforts by creating awareness in the community, and support others who have been or who would have been victims. Instead of giving up, these women have transformed from being victims to community human rights defenders in the different settlements they come from. They now stand as the vanguard of the community against rogue police officers and the system that creates and supports them. Nduku Mwangagi is one of these victims who swore to protect others from the rogue police officers after losing her adopted son.

 Mwaura’s Story

“I met Mwaura, a street boy in Soweto, in 2004, and I took him in. He was a young boy with no family in Nairobi. His siblings were living with his grandmother in Sabasaba, Murang’a. I offered to take him to school but since he had spent years on the streets he begged me to allow him to work as a co-driver in my lorry. I agreed to that because he needed to trace his family and support his siblings and grandmother. Mwaura became my first son. I felt so protected with him, he loved me like a mother and respected me as a mother. Mwaura was killed in 2008 by police at Kona Market in Kayole, I have never been that frustrated my whole life. I still remember how he would smile and call me Mama Mathew. The fact that I never got the chance to bury him and even never found his body still brings tears in my eyes until today. That is why I fight against EJEs and against all these injustices. I don’t keep quiet in the face of injustices and no one should.” Nduku Mwangangi, Mwaura’s guardian.

The Social Justice Movement has organized communities against these injustices to try and force the state into accountability. Instead of initiating the investigations, the state has in most times responded by intimidation, surveillance and a crackdown of human rights defenders. This use of police force was witnessed during the annual Saba Saba (July 7th) March For Our Lives by the Social Justice Movement, when more than sixty activists, human rights defenders and members of community were arrested for participating in this peaceful protest commemorating the activities of the second liberation struggle in Kenya. 

The Kenya Police Force & Stalled Reforms

The National Police Service is not yet a service but remains largely a force. The change in name from ‘force’ to ‘service’ did not solve the many underlying issues facing our police force. The force that was inherited at independence in 1963 has remained relatively the same in function, operation and culture, among other aspects. The police service was supposed to be citizen-centric in the way it handles complaints from the public. This is far from what Kenyans are used to in our local police stations. The reform of uniforms and change of name hasnn’t brought any change to the police culture in Kenya. 

The Kenya Police Force needs a radical surgery or a total overhaul, together with the system that created it. The many years of reform seems to have hit a brick wall and the changes are no longer effective. The curriculum used by the Kenya Police College needs to focus more on instilling patriotism, dignity for human life and professionalism, while the recruiters should focus on passion to serve and other aspects such as IQ, rather than the physical aspects that are long outdated.

Will reforms work to bring the stalled changes needed in our police forces? Is defunding the police force a viable solution? And should we give a thought to the ideologues who say we should abolish the police?

Until we uproot the system that created this police force, it shall continue to be a ‘FORCE’ rather than a ‘SERVICE’, the issue of mental health among the police shall continue to be a thorn in our flesh, and cases of suicide among the force shall go on. Until a radical surgery is given, professionalism will be an alien vocabulary to our police officers; until we cut the stem that supports a moribund system, Kenyans and the citizens of the world shall continue to suffer in the hands of these police forces.

Written By Faith Kasina (Coordinator of Kayole Community Justice Centre) &bGathanga Ndung’u (Member- Kenya Organic Intellectuals Network & Ruaraka Social Justice Centre (RSJC))


Pio Gama Pinto

Remembering Pio

After a successful book launch on December 12, 2021, Jamhuri day, the Organic Intellectuals Network has brought together reflections that were shared on this occasion.

This report includes solidarity statements from Prof Issa Shivji, Dr Willy Mutunga and Shiraz Durrani, as well as pictures taken at the powerful book launch. It is available for download through the link below:

Cover of the book on Pio Gama Pinto, by the Organic Intellectuals Network

Organic Intellectuals Network

Reflections on Mwai Kibaki & The Betrayal of the Second Liberation Struggles

By Gacheke Gachihi

Between 1997 and 1999, I had attended several Saba Saba rallies and the ‘no reforms’ protests in Uhuru Park and the historic Kamukunji grounds to demand for a new constitution. I was later invited to be a member of the National Convention Executive Council, NCEC, the vanguard pushing for constitutional reforms in Kenya, as a council member representing grassroots social movements. This was an important political opportunity that gave me a chance to engage with the civic and political developments, and to interact with luminaries of the reform movement such as Dr.Willy Mutunga, the Late Prof Apolo Njonjo, former secretary of Social Democratic party Dr. Kamau Kuria, Rev Timothy Njoya, Bonny Khalwale, Nobel laureate Prof Wangari Maathai, Paul Muite, Prof. Anyang Nyong’o, and Farah Maalim.

During the Saba Saba commemoration of 2001, I was at freedom corner with comrades from Muuugano wa Wanavijiji, The National Youth Movement, The Social Democratic Party, The Green Belt Movement, Safina Party, Peoples Party of Kenya, Saba Saba Asili, Mungiki, and as part of the new sprouting resistance which was called by Dr. Willy Mutunga and Mugambi Kiai as a breed of a new alternative leadership from below, since at that time Raila Odinga had the KANU/Liberal Democratic Party (L.D.P) cooperation.

On this day, we had organized a tree planting in commemoration of the young people who were killed between 1990 and 1997 for participating in the then government’s opposition pro-democracy reform rallies, evolving alternative new resistance in struggle and honoring the memory of those who were killed during the Saba Saba massive demonstrations in 1997.

Prof Wangari Maathai was to plant a tree this day in their memory. The gathering faced rough state aggression by being teargassed, arrests and torture in the notorious Central Police Station in Nairobi. A renowned police station in history that once repressed demonstrators who had gathered to demand the release of Harry Thuku in 1921, leading to the deaths of innocent Kenyans. To this date, I cannot recall how many times I have spent nights in Central Police Station, or had my name feature in the Occurrence Book. It is the same police station that came to define my struggle in building grassroots movements that later become Bunge La Mwananchi (Peoples Parliament).

It was during this time that I started organizing youth around Huruma car wash on several issues that affected them, and consequently formed a community based youth network named Starehe-Kasarani Youth Network  (KASTA)  that was formed by  Ngei 1,  a youth group based in Ngei ward, bringing in Mathare and  Huruma car wash youth groups.

I started the initiative as a low income earner, an ordinary human working as a car washer in Huruma car wash. Later we invited Chemi Chemi ya Ukweli, an inter-denominational religious network, to conduct a civic training to our Kasarani-Starehe youth network in Kilimabogo on non-violent protests as a model of organizing. We also partnered with The Green Belt Movement to organize civic and environmental seminars that Prof. Wangari Maathai was giving at the Green Belt headquarters in Kilimani, Nairobi named Kwimenya (to consciously know yourself), after which we would establish environmental advocacy units and the ‘greening initiative’ groups in our areas. The movement would in turn participate in tree planting in and around Kariobangi Market (1999-2000). This initiative with the contributions of the youth helped to mould the emergence of a critical grassroots social movement that would later provide support to the reform movements during the negotiation conversations on the merger of The Peoples Commission led by Oki Ombaka and the Commission on Constitutional Reform led by Prof. Yash Ghai at Ufungamano House. The meetings were being organized by The Peoples Commission under an interdenominational faith led, peoples’ driven constitutional review, which was chaired by the secretary General of National Council of Churches NCCK, Mutava Musyimi. 

It is during one of these meetings that I learned of many tactics in building social movements and political organizing from the late comrade George Mwaura Mburu who was also a member of National Convention Executive Council (NCEC). The Late Mwaura Mburu had initiated Peoples’ Assemblies in Limuru and Kiambu town and was a founder member of the Peoples Party of Kenya (PPK), a foot soldier of the second liberation struggles. He also had a special distinction in being a peasant leader and participating in shaping the middle class constitutional reform struggle in Kenya since 1992. He spent the last days of his life pushing the ‘Katiba Sasa’ campaign during the 2010 constitutional reforms referendum. 

Comrade Mwaura PPK, as we called him, was a great freedom fighter of the people of Kenya and Africa at large. His life in struggle  remain a significant beacon of hope immortalized in the minds and peasants struggles in Limuru where he organized Bunge La Mwananchi peoples’ assemblies to raise consciousness and advance the peoples’ struggles for liberation in Kenya. The late George Mwaura’s contributions helped to build my grassroots politics in Kenya during my early formatives stages in the civil society movements. I remember one historic moment in June 2001, during the merger of the Ufungamano constitutional initiative which had formed the Peoples Commission. The People’s Commission was supported by many Kenyans, progressive movements, and political parties who were opposed to the merger of the Ufungamano constitutional initiative and the Prof. Yash Ghai led commission that was appointed by Moi’s KANU regime and that had no trust with most of Kenyans.

The Ufungamano initiative was made of 54 stakeholders who were to vote that day and merge the Peoples Commission with Prof. Ghai’s team that had many Moi and KANU’s political sycophants. Most of the 54 stakeholders that made up Ufungamano initiative were conservative political parties and religious organizations. Democratic Party (DP) was one of these ideologically bankrupt political parties that were represented in Ufungamano by its then Chairman Mwai Kibaki and the then Secretary General Joseph Munyao. On the other side, progressive forces were social movements like NCEC, Muugano Wa Vijana Wazalendo (MVUA) and political parties like the Social Democratic Party, Peoples Party of Kenya (PPK), SAFINA and many grassroots formations. The Late George Mwaura Mburu was the Secretary General of PPK and he had developed a political pamphlet about the history of betrayal of our freedom struggle that embodied Mwai Kibaki. That day, Kibaki was attending the event at Ufungamano House to vote on behalf of DP as its chairman. The DP was among the parties supporting the unpopular merger between the two parallel constitutional reform processes in 2001. The headline of the pamphlet was about Mwai Kibaki’s neoliberal policies in Kenya.

MWAI KIBAKI’S betrayal legacy and the year listed;

1. That removing KANU was like cutting Mugumo tree with razor blade.

2. Introduced cost sharing in hospitals (curtailing right to health care)

3. Leader of IPPG that betrayed Kenya constitutional reforms in 1997.

4. Dividing the opposition in 1992, 

The list goes on to detail a dozen of betrayals that Mwai Kibaki’s personality embodied in his political life, and that was to manifest at Ufungamano House during that merger. The pamphlets were shared through underground tactics in order to reach as many delegates convened at Ufungamano House, and who were opposed to the merger of which the DP was supporting under Mwai Kibaki’s leadership.

The Late George Mwaura Mburu had one pamphlet copy that he wanted to give to Mwai  Kibaki as he entered Ufungamano House, intended at reminding him of the many times he had betrayed the Kenyan people in their time of need. This was a necessary political propaganda that needed courage. The task of giving Mwai Kibaki a copy of the condensed list of betrayals to the peoples liberation struggles was bestowed to me by the late Mwaura PPK  as my patriotic duty to shame Mwai Kibaki: a task that I did with utmost courage and great sacrifice as it was a revolutionary act to deliver a copy of the pamphlet.

That was done through a disguised handshake handing over the day’s program to Mwai Kibaki. True to the wording of the pamphlet, upon reading it, Kibaki stood to speak and address the gathering in support of the merger in Ufungamano House. His reaction was clear  as he started with a historical perspective of his political life. With difficulty of reconciling the political contradictions ensuing in his political life history, as was reflected in pamphlet, and which had  invited his conscience to reflect on his continuing betrayal to our motherland Kenya. At this point, political activism that had rooted Comrade George Mwaura’s peasant life in Thigio village in Limuru was one of the many tactics and skills that he used as a community organizer and member of grassroots social movement to give political education to the masses and recruit new cadres for revolutionary struggles in PPK and Bunge La Mwananchi. That was part of my generational inheritance as part of social struggles in Kenya. which is part of my reflection in the last 15 years of grassroots struggles in the era of neoliberalism and colonial poverty in Kenya 

I had a great opportunity to interact with Comrade Mwaura Mburu in many of the NCEC council meetings in Nairobi and Limuru, where we developed our comradeship that helped me to understand Mwaura’s struggle with the peasants in Limuru and Kenya at large. I was invited to PPK meetings often which Mwaura had organized with very little resources and challenges that came with political parties. The late Comrade Mwaura was also a delegate at the Bomas Constitutional Reform Conference representing PPK, and participated in the devolution committee that advanced the values of participatory democracy. Our late Comrade Mwaura will remain a hero of grassroots movements, as he shaped the politics of ordinary people in many political meetings that he attended around the country. He was a pillar of the Bunge La Mwanachi Movement, where we used the PPK party to organize Bunge la Mwananchi Movement in the grassroots and empower our people. I will remember him greatly in the contributions he made in the movement that today has continued to inspire more grassroots activism in Kenya. On  12/02/2011 in Limuru Thigio village when the remains of George Mwaura Mburu were returned to the soil of our ancestors, there were no tears from comrades who gathered in his grave that day; the only action was  to continue organizing towards realizing his dream of social justice in liberating Kenya. And we prayed to the revolutionary spirit of our ancestors Kimathi, Nyerere, Pio Gama Pinto and Jaramogi Odinga who manifested in the Great Rift Valley in our rivers, who raised the sweetness in Mumias sugar cane and comrade George Mwaura Mburu’s peasant struggles. We committed ourselves to continue organizing our people from where  he had left and as most comrades from Bunge La Mwananchi said. Comrade George Mwaura Mburu was killed by the cancer of the betrayal of our second liberation struggles.

anti-capitalism Social Justice Centres Working Group



By Nahashon Kamau, Kasarani Social Justice Centre

The sun was hotter than usual in our pockets. I went to the Center where comrades were gathering preparing for the Njaa Revolution crusade hosted by Kasarani Social Justice Center.

I had carried a few cartons to be used as writing materials. The other comrades had arrived earlier with the materials. Comrades were very joyful, another day to fight against the oppressive system created and controlled by countable individuals.

I stood at the end of the room silently observing everyone writing revolutionary messages on their cartons. They didn’t even mind what they were writing on so long as the message was brief and concise.

Comrades decided that they were behind schedule so they should get going. The peaceful demonstration was to pass through Sunton then to proceed to Mwiki along Kasarani Mwiki road.

Due to time constraints, comrades decided to proceed with Kamuti-ini road. Comrade Ojango had the mini mega phone chanting revolutionary messages with the comrades.

“Tuko njaa” he said and we chorused “tuko njaa.” Wakenya mko njaa?” he asked the community members who had started coming out of their houses and others from their daily routine .The members of the community took photographs and videos using their “Mukias”. They were intrigued by the comrades audacity to come out to the streets chanting revolutionary songs.

“Nchi gani hii, wanataka tukufe njaa?”.

The boxes read “Wakenya mko njaa?” At this time we were at Garage stage proceeding to Maji Mazuri. On reaching Maji Mazuri, community members had started joining us slowly and gathering around. We halted and started engaging them.

I glimpsed at one of the placard it read “we can’t eat food for thought.” Ojango and Maryann engaged the people with the people’s budget briefly then we were on our way to Mwiki. Comrades were careful not to disrupt traffic and avoid any confrontations. I noticed we were now approaching the long awaited destination ACK road Mwiki. All along the walk we engaged the community members.

Close to the first streets a substantial mass of kiosk vendors, shop keepers and hawkers were taking photos or videos. I noticed a few local opinion leaders taking pictures or videos but I was quickly drawn back to the crusade.

At that moment, comrades were chanting our slogans and reading the people’s budget which was passed around for them to express their opinions. The masses were deeply pleased and accepted the people’s budget.

Most of them thought it was the real budget that was read by the state officers but we made it clear that it was our own proposed mwanainchi budget.

The police were arriving one by one from Mwiki Police Station. At first they tried to arrest Comrade Ojango but we pulled him away from the officer. I was surprised how we managed to hold onto Ojango because the officer was built heavily. The police officer retreated back to their Mahindra police pickup.

Comrades were careful incase of any confrontations. We continued with our procession. In the middle of the road we heard police sirens. The police had regrouped and were many. We tried to keep people together telling each other “musitoroke,” “when we loose our fear they loose their power.” Comrades now were almost reaching the Budalangi sub-chief’s office.

When the police officers reached closer to the comrades, they dispersed strategically eluding arrest. Upon reaching the bodaboda stage, I saw a plain-clothed officer grabbing Comrade Minoo by the collar and hitting her on the chest. Instinctively, I started walking towards them.

Immediately I heard people shouting “shika huyo,” and to my surprise they were referring to me. The OCS said kuja tuongee. Events unfolded very quickly; one minute I was being hauled up by the waist. I tried telling and pleading with them that I was not resisting arrest. My plea fell on deaf ears. I overpowered the two officers.

I remember the OCS together with his officers, including a traffic officer, were standing very near and assisting. They made the whole situation look like I was resisting arrest. I was not read my rights before being arrested. I felt like I was kidnapped by utumishi kwa wote. I was still pleading with them to let me board their vehicle peacefully but the only language they understood was brute force.

I was violently shoved inside the back of the pickup falling on my back. Little did I know that a plain clothed officer was waiting for me to land on my back with his fists ready for a brutal beating.

He pressed me with his knee on my chest hitting me violently like I was a punching bag. I felt so powerless; it was like he was looking for a reason to kill us. He wanted to provoke me so that he could find a concrete reason to kill us. Incase I had raised a fist against him you could probably be raising funds for my hospital bill or funeral.

He released all his police frustrations on my head. I had to guard my face after receiving several blows on my lips and chin. After that he tried to strangle me. All this time Comrade Minoo was screaming at him to stop pounding me. The other officers had already boarded the pickup. All this time he had managed to handcuff my left arm and he tightened the cuff. The other officers helped him to cuff my right hand. I stood bent and sat on the right side of the bench close to Comrade Minoo.

He turned his attention on Minoo, pounded her with his fists, hitting her severally on her right eye which swelled immediately. I tried to stop him but he hit me again, this time on the left side of my forehead severally, and on the right four times which I tried to dodge and block. The vehicle had reached Red Soil road where it stopped. Comrade Clinton was forced to board. They shoved him to the left corner of the vehicle. The violent officer hit him below the right eye where he sustained a cut and started bleeding. I tried to plead to him to stop hitting him because he had undergone an eye surgery after being hit by a nail early last year. The image is deeply embedded in my mind.

Anytime I close my eyes the first image is him staring at me. Along Red Soil road the officer was staring me dead in the eyes. He had opened his eyes wide open staring at me. I stared back at him. I could tell from his eyes that he was disappointed because he didn’t kill my spirit. I didn’t fear him. We stared at each other now at Mwiki stage.

He started accusing us that “hiyo bangi mnavuta mnatuletea vurugu uku Mwiki leo mtakipata.” He asked me “hizo sheria ulikua unasema sasa ziko wapi” I answered him “umesema ninyamaze.” On reaching Mwiki Police Station, the pickup reversed up to the station door. The officers ordered us out of the police vehicle and into the OB room where the violent officer frisked me vigorously then the officers at the OB took over.

I didn’t see the violent officer again after he removed the handcuffs. We were booked and our phone, money and wallets labeled together with our bags were confiscated. Comrade Minoo stopped them from reading her notebook telling them it was infringing on her privacy. When I switched off my phone it was around mid noon. They ordered us to our respective cells after telling us to remove one shoe and belts.

Inside the cell we met other victims of this slave system. Their material conditions had forced them to be there. We engaged with them. The stench coming out of the dilapidated nothing close to a toilet, burned the nostrils and eyes. The situation was so overwhelming in regards to what we were fighting for.

Article 43 is the most basic right a human being can enjoy. Momentarily we heard commotion. From far I could identify Comrade Brayan and Kinuthia’s voices. From my side it felt so strong that the spirit of comradely love still perseveres.

We heard them say “tufungulie ata sisi tuingie huku nje nikubaya.” The cell was opened, Comrades entered ,checked on our well being, dinner was served, we ate, and started singing “nchi gani hii inataka tukufe njaa?

Officers came and released the comrades. They were ordered to go home or risk being arrested. Comrades kept coming in solidarity. They hastily took our finger prints while interrogating each of us. Do you work for Muhuri? Were you being used by politicians? Who is funding you ? They even tried/pretended to side with us. The OCS and Deputy OCS with other officers visited the male cell asking who was assaulted by police officers, and we told him all of us.

He referred a former inmate to describe the situation at Industrial Area Remand Prison. He asked if I was ever beaten for committing a mistake. I said for leaking sugar. He insisted if you go to Inda you will receive worse beating and monolization than this.

All this time, what they really wanted to know is who were the leaders of #Mwiki4. At around 8 or 9 pm we heard bullet sounds, shouting, running and finally nothing. We were quickly transported to Kasarani Police Station, to await court proceedings. We were booked with resisting arrest and having an illegal gathering.

Inside the cells you could feel and see the victimization of the so called leaders of tomorrow. Every single cell mate had his own story, but the material conditions due to Covid-19 and the increase in the prices of basic commodities was a common foundation.

The state should stop investing in the prison industrial complex and invest more in cottage industries. We made friends and had a political education class. Comrades were always there all the time, giving more solidarity. The cells were spacious. We ate poorly cooked ugali and cabbage which is a delicacy in prison. We dozed off.

At around 2-3 am, we heard loud commotion and the door was forcefully opened waking all of us. I woke up hastily and stood at the door, after opening the door an officer said “nimewaletea nyama.” One of the cell mate who had stayed there for sometime had already reached the door, grabbed the noisy drank and pushed him straight into the toilet which was flooded with foul alcohol stinking sewage. The new cellmate was chased from the other cells because he kept shouting “ethiopians.” The Nigerian we were sharing the cell with kept reminding us the rules of the house: “close the door friend.” I went back to my part of the floor. The new cell mate reached our cell and shouted “ethiopian.”

Comrade Clinton told him to close the door. He was recognized by the new cellmate. He called out “Didi” then I heard “Jose,” finally I heard “chair.” We were all there coincidentally at that bizarre moment and place.

We were overwhelmed and kept talking about our circumstances. We were cut short by our fellow cellmate: “tell your friend to take it easy. “There was major victimization of the boy child. The male cells were several and large compared to one small female cell. How many of our comrades shall they kill until we realize it is time to wake up. No more matyrs!