Categories
African Social Justice Network Solidarity

Afrikki : A Pan-African People-Centred Social Movement

African movements involved in the Afrikki Network met from the 5th to the 27th of February 2024 in Nairobi. Afrikki is a collective of social movements within Africa and the diaspora, which offers a platform for grassroots people organizations to interact and forge people inspired approaches in tackling local and continental social justice issues.

We want contribute in building Pan-Africanism of a new kind, through international solidarity and promoting popular democracy.

The collective includes various member organizations including:
1. Y’en A Marre of Senegal
2. Filimbi and LUCHA of DRC
3. Balai Citoyen of Burkina Faso
4. Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC)
5. The Tanzania Socialist Forum in Tanzania.
6. Team Gom Sa Bopa in the Gambia.
7. Project South of Atlanta.

Here is the report from the convening. Viva Africa Viva!

Categories
Ecological Justice Network People's Assemblies Social Justice Centres Solidarity

Press Statement: Justice For Flood Victims in Mathare, Mukuru, Dandora and Naivasha

The people of Mathare and other informal settlements (such as Mukuru, Kibera, Kayole, Githurai, Kasarani, and all affected areas) strongly condemn the UDA government for the inhumanity and indignity it has accorded the Kenyan people over the past few months.

Under the guise of saving us from nature, this government has destroyed the livelihoods of millions of Kenyans through illegal demolitions in Mathare, Mukuru, Kariobangi, and other informal settlements, without a proper relocation plan or land allocation for victims.

These acts cannot mask the criminal negligence of the UDA government, which had early warnings about the climate crisis, and its failure to act in time has exposed millions of Kenyans to death traps and hopelessness.

While the government extends the budget ceiling for State House and Parliament, hundreds of people are currently held in camps, schools, churches, and community halls that lack basic amenities for daily use. These are facilities with barely, if any, adequate sanitation facilities, and are currently the sites of cholera outbreaks.

We oppose the attempt of the ruling class and the government of Kenya to impose the ecological crisis burden onto the urban poor and the peasants of Kenya. We are already burdened by the weight of an economy that dehumanises us every day.

We expose the criminal negligence of the UDA government and its partners, who are at the service of the IMF and World Bank institutions, since they collectively violate our basic rights as enshrined by Article 43 of the Kenyan Constitution. This is: the right to decent housing, the right to food, the right to the highest attainable standards of healthcare, and the right to clean and accessible water.

The Ecological Justice Network in Mathare honours all the martyrs who have paid a heavy price for the criminal negligence of our government. It is us who have known these martyrs as they have struggled for food, dignity, employment, adequate housing and the right to life for their children. It is still us who find their bodies after the floods, and try and pick up the pieces of their lives in their death. We will not let their demise be in vain!

In memory of Mama Victor and Jacinta Adhiambo, who were our great social justice advocates and human rights defenders, we will continue on their path of demanding dignity and social justice for all.

We know Kenya will one day be liberated from the corrupt and unaccountable regimes of the UDA government, which brought the face of the hustler but is actually a overseer shepherding us to be slaves.

We the people on this eighth day of May 2024 therefore demand:

1. Quality housing for all
2. Compensation for all the martyrs who died during the floods
3. Life with a dignified environment
4. Education for all
5. Land for all the landless.

A government that cannot provide these basic needs has no right to be in power.

We call upon Kenyans to join us for mass action, starting today in Mathare, until we gain our livelihoods and social justice.

Wanjira Wanjiru
0791334684.
Ecological Justice Network, Mathare.

Categories
Ecological Justice Network Social Justice Centres Solidarity

Joint Statement by Mathare Flood Response Organizations

Wakenya and many friends from all over: 

Thank you very much for the solidarity you have given Mathare residents as they seek to recover from the worst flooding they have lived through in the last forty years. 

On the evening of April 24, a deluge of rain led to flooding that decimated many houses along the Mathare and Getathuru rivers. It also led to the deaths of at least 40 community members, including children and a person with a disability. Truly, we are touched by all who have supported our rapid response process: we are grateful for the financial contributions and the donations of necessary items (including dry food, bedding, mattresses, clothes and diapers). We are also grateful to those who came to offer condolence and who offered a hand as we continue to cook for the flood victims.

We especially want to highlight the rapid and effective response by many community groups and individuals in Mathare. So many helped in collecting data for the cash transfers, helping victims to find shelter, finding missing bodies, providing food and medical aid, and receiving other types of support for the victims. 

Currently, there are still efforts to find the bodies of family members and friends, as well as to feed and clothe the hundreds of newly houseless individuals residing in schools, churches and even still sleeping outside even as the rain continues. All of the financial donations you have sent in response to this crisis are being put towards the recovery of our people.

To date, as The Network of Mathare Community Social Justice Centres, we have received 3,129,661 KES for Mathare flood victims. This is how the money has been spent:

1. As of Tuesday, April 30, our collective Mathare Mchanga has received:

1,758,025 KES. So far, this has allowed for 334 cash transfers to verified victims of 3000 KES each (for a total of 1,002,000 KES); we are progressively sending more cash transfers to the households impacted by floods and we will keep you updated on the process. 

2. As of Tuesday, April 30, our paybill had received 1,066,636 KES and 313,170 KES to the phone of a rapid response representative. We used the 313,170 KES for the community kitchen operations that started on Wednesday, April 25—including buying food, firewood, cooking oil, soap, water and hiring a tent to have this kitchen since it is the rainy season. Since then, we have continued to feed breakfast, lunch and dinner daily to a minimum of 500 people. We are now cooking in four different sites in order to reach more of those affected. Our proposal is to use the 1,066,636 KES towards buying school items for affected children, as well as to contribute to funeral costs for affected families and cash transfers. 

We will continue to honour and be accountable to all of those who stood with us and sent whatever they could to support these response efforts. You have really emphasized to us that Ubuntu exists: indeed, we are because you are.

We would also like to send a message to the government: we want to know where the 10 Billion KES to respond to the effects of El Niño went. We would like to remind you that, as the Kenyan Constitution states, “all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya.” Therefore, we are determined to make sure that this 10 billion KES is found and goes to all of those who have suffered from the combined effects of state neglect as it intersects with our global climate crisis.

We are extremely proud of how our community has defended the humanity of their people and continue to offer solidarity to each other even in their desperation. Meanwhile, our elected MCA’s and MPs continue to be silent; we will not let them rest.

We invite all to remain in solidarity with our community members in Mathare and other flooded areas; those affected continue to need blankets, mattresses, clothing, sanitary towels, drinking water, tents, food and more.

Above all, we say asanteni sana sana for all of the generosity and humanity that you continue to show for our people. We are because you are.

The Network of Mathare Community Social Justice Centres

Here is the statement for download:

Categories
Ecological Justice Network Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network Solidarity

Mama Victor Tribute & Solidarity for Flood Victims

Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) mourns the sudden demise of Comrade Benna Buluma, fondly known as Mama Victor.

We met Mama Victor in 2017 while documenting the police executions of her two sons, Victor and Bernard. Mama Victor joined our team at MSJC as a victim, and through her passion and commitment emerged a victor; defending young men from police killings and rallying fellow women to demand justice for their loved ones.

Mama Victor was the coordinator of the Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network, and this was a task she undertook diligently. She always rallied comrades to attend court solidarity for members of the Network, and even convened us to go to Embu when Kianjokoma brothers were killed by the police. Mama Victor was a gallant fighter for social justice and human rights. 

Comrades are still in deep shock after retrieving Mama Victor’s body from the Mathare river. Despite her best efforts, she remained trapped in poverty and structural violence, which is now manifested in an ecological crisis that has killed more than 40 people in one night after they were drowned by floods. There was no room to escape even as she breathed her last.

We mourn the unnecessary death of Mama Victor, which could have been prevented by decent housing and proper urban planning.

The Ecological Justice Network has, for the longest time, highlighted this issue of poor systems that greatly endanger the lives of poor people in Mathare, stressing the need for decent housing and dignified lives. 

Mama Victor was a symbol of hope for all striving for dignity, but she also epitomizes the crisis of capitalism in the world today; her sons Victor and Bernard were killed by the police; her daughter Maureen of a short illness, and now Mama Victor has died of the raging floods. This is the violence that poverty exposes us to. 

In honour of Mama Victor, we urge all of us to continue the fight for dignity and social justice. Poverty is a common enemy we fight. “Until everyone is free,” as Pio Gama Pinto said. Truly, Mama Victor’s struggle was redemptive for the people of Mathare who had lost hope to continue fighting for social change.

Hundreds of Mathare residents are still camping outside with their children, homeless, and with no food. The MSJC Ecological Justice Network has pitched a tent in Mathare, where it is providing hot meals and receiving in kind donations.

These include: Mattresses, blankets, food, clothing for both adults and children, books, toys, sanitary towels and diapers for babies and toddlers.

If you would like to donate, please send money to or call Wanjira on: 0791334684.

Or send to the MSJC Paybill number at:

Account: 4060187

Account Name: THE MATHARE SOCIAL JUSTICE CENTRE

Long live the indomitable spirit of Benna Buluma! Long live! Soon dignity for the poor, soon!

Categories
Ecological Justice Network

Mathare River Festival #LetTheRiverFlow

You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they MUST protect them.

Wangari Maathai

The Mathare People’s assembly, which brought together the Mathare community in their massive elements, resolved that there was an urgent need to focus on sustainable livelihoods.

This was to be achieved through laying emphasis on environmental conservation for ecological justice. The first constituted plan of action was to establish the ‘Let the Rivers Flow’ Campaign. The campaign is aimed at engaging the community through education, to create awareness, strengthen advocacy and influence policy around issues of clean and safe drinking water, transforming Mathare and restoring Mathare River.

The campaign purposes to involve various actors including community members, environmental organisations and relevant agencies to achieve this goal. Achieving this objective would, in turn, aid in generating income for the youth and less privileged, curb social ills like crime, and transform Mathare to a cleaner and greener neighbourhood.

The river has become a dumping site. Effluent waste from neighboring areas flows through our community. Upstream estates dump their waste directly into the river. Also, the Mathare hospital drains waste into the river.

Garbage sites are placed right beside the river, burst sewers flow into the river, and, houses constructed close to the river direct their waste into the river. All this contamination makes Mathare River among the most polluted rivers in Kenya.

The Mathare River is one of the tributaries of Nairobi River. This main river flows as a clean and crystal river from its source in Aberdare forest symbolising a natural source of life. It starts experiencing its pollution troubles once it flows through corporate industries and has exposure to household waste in Nairobi.

The River Festival

The River Festival was a commemoration of the gains and efforts the Mathare Ecological Justice Campaign members have made in conserving the Mathare River and establishing community parks along it.

Rivers have always been a place to bring people together, and for communities to enjoy their shared heritage.

Where rivers flow, life flows.

The festival was attended by more than 1000 participants, including Mathare residents and those from surrounding communities. The attendees included children, young and old community members, and people from all walks of life. It also brought together different ecological formations from other informal settlements and Social Justice Centres.

The festival was a platform to explore art and music in educating, entertaining and creating awareness about the need to conserve the Mathare River as a collective endeavor.

The festival brought together conscious artists to celebrate the history and achievements of the Mathare Ecological Network, and adopted the continuation of the ‘Let the Rivers Flow’ campaign. Furthermore, it demanded that we all must insist on ending pollution, and can bring this awareness to others through education and actionable engagements.

The festival culminated with the launch of the Ecological Justice Network – Mathare. This Network involves the different local environmental groups including at Mathare Social Justice Centre, Mathare Community Park, Mathare Green Park, Ghetto Farmers, Voice of Mathare, Vision Bearers, New Pirates Youth Group and other community organizations from Kiamaiko, Mlango Kubwa and the different parts of Mathare.

In addition, small businesses were able to showcase and sell their merchandise, and we did this to support the sustainability of ecological businesses initiatives in Mathare. 

So far, there is an evident rise of youth in Mathare who clean the river not because it is their sole mandate, but as a sustained campaign to fight for social change, since they are conscious of the interrelation between the ecological crisis and struggle for social justice.

The Ecological Justice Network

The Ecological Justice Network in Mathare is part of the Ecological Justice Movement in Nairobi. It is a consortium of four organisations: Mathare Social Justice Centre, Mathare Community Park, Mathare Green Park and Ghetto Farmers. The Ecological Justice Network is a pool of ecological movements and initiatives established within Nairobi, each with a specific campaign geared towards ecological sustainability.

The Ecological Justice Network in Mathare has been a pillar for the establishment of more ecological networks in Nairobi, and especially within the informal settlements that are faced with the harmful and continuous effects of environmental pollution from the corporates and large industries surrounding them. This being the case, the Network has engaged in case study forums to analyse the sources of pollution, specifically the effluent and affluent discharges along the Mathare River.

The results have influenced the establishment of the Network, which is aimed at transforming Mathare and the people living in Mathare.

We want to move from a “slum” to an environmentally conscious society. Our ecological campaigns have impacted the community in various ways, including through crime reduction and the reduction of social ills like state violations, which mostly affect unemployed young people.

The establishment of community parks through planting trees along the river has provided a safe haven for children to play. It has also provided space for the establishment of social spaces like libraries, GBV referral centres and community meeting spaces.

These community parks have acted as avenues for community organising, and especially for conservation of the environment. The spaces have also provided self-employment for young people through sustainable economic projects like animal rearing, tree nursery beds and artwork. It is the hope of the Network that ecological sustainability becomes a question of social justice.

Launch of the Ecological Justice Network – Mathare

Gacheke Gachihi, the coordinator of Mathare Social Justice Centre, led the celebration of the launch of the Ecological Justice Network in Mathare.

Achievements, Resolutions & Action Plan of the Network

  • Launching the Ecological Justice Network – Mathare.
  • Intensify ecological justice activities including: tree planting, establishing tree nurseries, monthly clean-ups and art for awareness creation.
  • Unify ecological campaigns and strengthen ecological justice networks in other parts of Nairobi.
  • Adoption of the ‘Let the Rivers Flow’ campaign as a path towards the restoration of Mathare River.

See some pictures from The River Festival below!

Categories
anti-capitalism Campaign Against Drugs & Crime Mathare Green Movement People's Assemblies Social Justice Centres Solidarity

The Mathare People’s Assembly

The Mathare Local People’s assembly was convened at the Mathare People’s Park, and brought together community members and actors from across our struggles to identify various societal issues we are facing.

The Mathare People’s park is a transformed green space that was initially a garbage site, and which now hosts the Ukombozi Library, a children’s playing space, and a community park that offers the community food and a serene environment. It has also transformed young people from drug use and crime, and offered a sustainable form of economic livelihood through activities such as animal rearing and other methods of farming.  

Our assembly was influenced by the urgency to explore an inclusive alternative model that involves the community in addressing its challenges.

For a while, various societies have seemed to confront these challenges at an organizational or an individual level. The objective of the local assembly was to transform the culture of personal alienated approaches which have proven to be ineffective. The assembly also wanted to further grassroots democracy and power to the people.

Mathare happens to be one of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, and is suffering from a myriad of social problems including: widespread poverty, lack of basic commodities, crime and chronic unemployment. All of these factors also lead to other grave problems.

The assembly brought 100 participants drawn from the six wards in Mathare, including Kiamaiko, Mlango Kubwa, Mabatini, Kiamaiko, Ngei and 3C.

The participants included children, local community groups, ecological justice organizations, students and elders. Among the grassroots organizations present were the Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC), Ghetto Farmers, and Green Park and Mathare Community Park members.

Other participants who joined the discussions emanated from the different social movements in Nairobi.

After the introduction of the local assembly’s concept, the participants engaged in a general analysis of the Mathare society; the historical injustices and the current political and social conditions. Thereafter, the members joined the various thematic groups influenced and adopted by the assembly. These are:  

  1. The Ecological and Political Committee 
  2. The Drugs and Crime Committee 
  3. The Waste Management Committee
  4. The Water & Sanitation Committee

The thematic groups appointed a moderator and secretary, collectively examined the situation, and generated a list of possible solutions to explore. Below are the results from the committees:

Water and Sanitation Committee

 Challenges highlighted include:

  • The rationing and diversion of water in areas like Mlango Kubwa where water is diverted to Eastleigh 
  • Water-borne diseases
  • Poor healthcare infrastructure  
  • Effluent and affluent discharges: Mathare Hospital, for example, was seen to emit its waste directly into the river. Also, most of Eastleigh waste is poured directly into the river 
  • Corruption and water cartels 
  • Leaking sewers 
  • Poor waste disposal methods 
  • Poor housing, and people are constructing homes on the river.  

Proposed way forward

  • Participate in public participation sessions e.g. budget making processes 
  • Develop petitions to conduct an inquiry on water institutions in Mathare 
  • Policy development 
  • Creating awareness through community dialogues  
  • Mapping of polluters 
  • Consistent stakeholders meetings 

Waste Management Committee

 Challenges highlighted include:

  • Poor waste disposal 
  • Lack of awareness on waste management strategies  
  • Lack of collaborations and coordination between stakeholders in waste management  
  • Government lacked policies, incentives on waste management 

Proposed solutions

  • Creating waste management awareness programs 
  • Focus on existing networks to build and strengthen ecological network  
  • Establish local waste management plans and strategies 
  • Include children in waste management projects 

Drugs and Crime Commitee

Challenges highlighted include:

  • Poverty which leads to crime, drug abuse
  • Unemployment
  • Addiction 

Solutions proposed

  • Organize campaigns and seminars against drugs and crime 
  • Involvement of different stakeholders in the campaign against drugs and crime 
  • Establish local committees to fight against drugs and crime 
  • Establish learning facilities for children, like local libraries 
  • Creating of co-curriculum activities such as sports and art

Ecological and Political Committee

Challenges highlighted include:

  • Existing ecological injustices and pollution.
  • State violence including: 
    1. Harassment. 
    1. Extra-judicial executions. 
    1. Land grabbing. 
    1. High level of unemployment leading to crime  
  • Lack of political accountability. 
  • Existing gaps in policy development 

Solutions and way forward

  • Establish sustainable sources for economic activity for the youth 
  • Establish public assemblies as institutions to generate solutions for local problems  
  • Intensify political education in the parks and in community centres 

Proposed collective way forward

  1. Establish the Mathare Ecological Justice Network, involving various community parks, which will in turn aid in: 
    • Creating a sustainable base for young people through economic generating activities like farming and seed nurseries 
    • Engage more children in the parks — perhaps an adopt a tree program
    • Establish more green spaces to transform the local ecological situation and to act as spaces for community organising
    • Provide more safe spaces like art centers, community libraries and community retreat centres 
    • Curb land grabbing, encroachment and pollution of the Mathare River; #LetTheRiversFlowCampaign 
  2. Harmonise a collective ecological justice campaign by establishing ecological justice networks in the various informal settlements 
  3. Popularise local people’s assemblies as avenues to generate solutions for the peoples’ problems. Including in:  
    • Kayole. 
    • Githurai. 
    • Ngong. 
  4. Establish exchange sessions with the Indigenous People’s Assemblies and existing assemblies in Italy, Britain and Scotland. 
  5. Organise more workshops and seminars at the grassroots to discuss the creation of local people’s assemblies 
  6. Creating alternatives through bicycles lanes along Nairobi River, from Michuki Park to Ruai 
  7. Create a secretariat to follow up on the resolutions and a guide for implementation 

Report by: Wavinya Kavinya and Waringa Wahome

Categories
Social Justice Centres

Community Groups Registration Act (2022) — Grassroots Deliberations

There has been concern from many grassroots groups about the oversight and governance of community-based organizations. The plight has since been crystalized by the enactment of the Community Based Registration Act No. 30 of 2022.

The legislation introduces regulations pertaining to community-based organisations’ registration, administration and financial provisions. 

Most CBOs are established within the community and are at the forefront in responding to societal needs. Before the Community Groups Registration Act, many community organisations were registered with few procedural requirements, allowing room for their effectiveness and the adoption of simple organisational models and structures.

On 15th August 2023, Mathare Social Justice Centre received a letter from the Mathare Sub-CountySocial Development Officer (SCSD/MAT/SHG/8/2023(007). The letter in part reads: “it has been noted by the Sub-County Social Development officer that your activities are more nurturing and protecting the fundamental Human Rights of the individuals, and families of the Mathare Community which is not in line with our community registration activities as per our new Community Groups Registration Act, No. 30 of 2022. We therefore as an office request your organisation to amend its group objectives so that they can be in line with our Act…”

On 19th September, a month after we received this letter, MSJC organized a grassroots workshop to address the Act’s attempts to undermine the Constitution and grassroots democracy, by interfering with the autonomy of community-based organizations.

The workshop was attended by 20 participants and contributors, including Prof Kivutha Kibwana, a constitutional lawyer and former Governor of Makueni County, and Charles Maina formerly of the International Justice Mission (IJM). They, notably, advised us on the constitutional and legislative framework that governs the new Act.

Other participants were the District County Commissioner and Sub-County Social Development Office represented by Chief Mugo, Mabatini Ward, the membership of the Social Justice Centers – Nairobi Chapter (which included Mathare Social Justice Centre, Kayole Social Justice Center, Githurai Social Justice Center, The Social Justice Travelling Theater, Mathare Social Justice Centers Network, Kiamaiko Social Justice Centre, Ghetto Foundation and  Ruaraka Social Justice Centre), Missing Voices and other legal advisers.

The participants went through the history of social justice centers and their formation process, looking into case studies from Mathare Social Justice Centre and Kayole Community Justice Center.

Mathare Social Justice Centre was registered in 2015 as a space to document human rights violations that were rampant around Mathare during that period. The Mathare Social Justice Centre was started in 2014, three years after the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010.

It was noted that during the process of registration, the Office of Social Development had disapproved the registration of the name “Mathare Social Justice Centre,” on account of the “social justice” character of the organisation, even while MSJC had paid registration fee. This was contrary to Article 10 (2) (b) of the Constitution which provides that; “The national values and principles of governance include: – human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalized.”

Kayole Community Justice Center noted that they had great challenges with registration. They share that the Social Development Officer in Kayole denied them registration, and were only registered after Noordin Haji, the then Director of Criminal Investigations intervened after attending the launch of the centre. The organisation does not appear in the register of community based organisations despite them having a valid certificate of operation.

Participants reflected on the deregistration of Clarion, an NGO, which operated in the ‘90s on account of its human rights activities and protection of democratic spaces in Kenya. 

The Social Justice Movement was reflected on as a mass-based social movement whose duty is to safeguard grassroots democracy and protect the values and spirit of the Constitution. It was noted that the passing of the Act without public participation, and the letter sent to Mathare Social Justice Centre, was a direct attack on grassroots democracy and exposed the deliberate shrinking of civic spaces in our country.

Participants highlighted other legislations such as the Public Order Act and the NGO Act of 1990 that continue to muzzle the spirit and space of human rights and democracy in Kenya.

The discussions were then organised into different groups to allow the participants to interact with the contents of the Act intensively. This involved a thorough perusal of the Act; identifying constitutional contraventions and opportunities.

It was noted that there are now 21 registered social justice centres in Nairobi, and that people face numerous frustrations at the Social Development Office when seeking registration; there are also other Social Justice Centres which are pending registration, some of which the Social Development Office has denied registration. These are, for example, Mau Mau Haki Centre and the Social Justice Centers Travelling Theatre.

Deliberation points to note:

  1. Participants noted that before the legislation came into effect, there was no regulatory framework under which community-based organisations were registered. The new law is found to be restrictive as far as it limits fundamental human rights including the right of association. The justice centres have operated since 2015, and there has never been a complaint that their actions were in contravention of the Constitution or any law.
  • The Act contravened Article 1 of the constitution which provides: “all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only in accordance with this constitution.”Grassroots organisations form the collective voice at the grassroots, and denying people the right to organise at a grassroots level is infringing on the sovereignty of the people of Kenya. The Act fails to acknowledge the supremacy of the Constitution by contradicting its values.
  • The Act contravenes Article 10 (2) (a) of the Constitution, which states that “The national values and principles of governance include: – patriotism, national unity, sharing and devolution of power, the rule of law, democracy and participation of the people.”
  • The Act contravenes the values of democracy and grassroots organisation; community was not involved in any deliberation of it.
  • Further, Article 186 (2) of the Constitution, read along with the fourth Schedule – Part 2(14), clearly provides for the functions and powers of national and county government. Part 2 (14) of the fourth schedule reads; “the functions and powers of the County are; ensuring and coordinating the participation of the communities and locations in governance at the local level and assisting communities and locations to develop the administrative capacity for the effective exercise of the functions and powers and participation in governance at the local level.”
  • Participants noted that all community activities cannot be divorced from the aspiration to promote social justice and the realization of the potential of all human beings. The essence of registering a community-based organization is that the community is aware of its priority issues and can develop its solutions through programs that intimately involve the whole community. Through community-based organizations, the community can participate in governance at the local level.

Violation of Article 19 of the Constitution

  • Participants did an analysis of Article 19 which provides that the Rights and fundamental freedoms provided for under the Bill of Rights are inherent and inalienable rights and freedoms.
  • Article 19 (2) provides: “The Bill of Rights is an integral part of Kenya’s democratic state and is the framework for social, economic and cultural policies.” It further provides that “the purpose of recognizing and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms is to preserve the dignity of individuals and communities and to promote social justice and the realization of the potential of all human beings.”
  • It was noted that the activities of a CBO cannot merely be limited to economic rights (empowerment) devoid of social, political and cultural rights. Participants noted that civil and political rights are indivisible. Article 43 of the Constitution provides for social and economic rights, which are reinforced by Article 38 that provides for political rights and Article 36 which provides for the freedom of association.
  • That the Director of Social Development has the sole authority to decide who forms a special interest group was also identified as alarming.
  • There was emphasis on Article 24 which provides: “a right or fundamental freedom shall not be limited except by law, and then only to the extent that the limitation is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom, taking into account all relevant factors including the relation between the limitation and its purpose and whether there are less restrictive means to achieve the purpose.”

Violation of Article 36 of the Constitution

  1. Violation of Article 36 of the Constitution provides for the right of every person to associate, and which includes the right to join and or participate in the activities of an association of any kind. Such an association must be a voluntary association. Members noted that the social justice centres accept membership of voluntary individuals who live, work and interact with the realities of their communities. As such, Mathare Social Justice Centre, and all social justice organisations, are constitutionally permitted to exist as community based organisations based on the fact that they involve members of the community and exercise their mandate within the Mathare community in accordance with the laws and policies of the Republic of Kenya.

Ambiguity of the Act

  • It was noted that the Act was ambiguous in so far as it did not specify the ministry responsible for enforcing and overseeing the implementation of the Act.
  • The Act provides for the Office of the Director, which shall be an office in the public service. It also provides for the Social Development Office, which is an office under the ministry responsible for social development, which is the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection.
  • The Act does not provide for a transition clause to guide the CBOs that were registered before the Act. There was a lack of a coherent policy guiding the registration of community based organisation then, which would interfere with the process of interpretation of and reference to the new law.
  • Participants noted that most community-based organisations, whose objective is human rights oriented, have experienced similar procedural challenges in recent times with the concerned registration institutions
  • Participants challenged the monarchical status of the Director of Social Development as provided for by Section 3 of the Act.
  • The financial provisions as stated in the Act are unclear and restrictive of community organizing.
  • The definition of civil society organisations deliberately limits how a CBO can interact and relate with other organisations.

Overall, participants agreed that the legislation has made the mistake of over-regulation, which limits the rights and freedom of individuals and communities. They agreed that CBO’s should have a policy of self-regulation in order for all Kenyans to participate in governance at the local and community level. After all, these organisations exist to do what the government has failed to do at the grassroots.

In the definition of a community group, one participant posed a question: when the Constitution provides for social and political rights and sovereign people organise and debate around those issues, are they political?

Therefore, the activities proposed by the CBO registration forms have not been constitutionally developed. This then requires a review process on the development and implementation of the policy itself. 

What is to be done?

The Community Registration Act cannot exist without scrutiny; there should be discussion of the issues raised above about its legality and constitutionalism.

Participants resolved that, to address these key issues, the strategy and tactics required would be both short and long-term and would be applied in a two-line strategy: the legal strategy and the creation of an alternative leadership mechanism. The workshop then formed two committees to oversee the process. The committees are: 1) the legal committee and 2) committee against the shrinking of civic and democratic spaces.

Short Term Response

  1. A response letter from the Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) was to be sent to the Sub County Office of Social Development.
  2. Committees were to map out other community based organisations whose registration was pending and those denied registration on account of human rights objectives.
  3. There was a need to have a collective response to the Sub-County Social Development Office to understand which objectives and activities of Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) are not in accordance with the Act, and which specific sections of the Act that are contravened by our activities.
  4. The Social Justice Centre Working Group was to convene meetings at the community level to created awareness about the   Community Groups Registration Act.

Long Term Response

  1. File a constitutional petition challenging the legality and constitutionality of the Act and its provisions.
  2. Map strategic collaborations and partnerships, and hold frequent discussions on policies that affect organisations in the community.

Report prepared by Waringa Wahome, coordinator of the MSJC Legal Empowerment Network

Categories
People's Assemblies Social Justice Centres

Tackling Social Injustice with People’s Assemblies?

A Report of the People’s Assemblies Forum held in the Mathare Social Justice Centre’s Creative Hub on August 11, 2023

Why People’s Assemblies?

The people’s assemblies arise from the need of the people to administer and generate solutions to the problems ailing their society. The concept is a people’s driven approach towards creating grassroots strength, solidarity and democracy from a point of popular power to a pool of global solidarity. The assemblies might take different organizational and practical models in diverse communities and in various organizations, making it a viable model for decision making, identifying challenges and building a collective spirit in confronting the social, economic and political issues that exist.

Purpose of the Forum

The people’s assembly forum held in Mathare was an avenue to explore, discuss and generate action points to form, design and structure local, citizen and people’s assemblies in Mathare and other areas within Nairobi. The existing social movements, local groups and institutions are a fundamental element in steering the initial processes. The forum thus drew participants from various established local groups, social movements and members of the community, to examine and deliberate on the model and whether and how it fits into their organizational framework.

Participants in the Forum

The forum targeted 30 participants representing organizations, local groups and members of the community. Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) is one of the social movements organizing around accessing social justice in Mathare and broadly in the whole country. It has worked in close collaboration with other Social Justice Centres in Nairobi, some of which were present at the forum. They include: Githurai, Kayole, Mukuru, and Kasarani Social Justice Centers. Other organizations included the organs of the social justice movement: The Social Justice Centre’s Travelling Theater, The Ecological Justice Network, The Revolutionary Socialist League, The Communist Party of Kenya, the Young Communist League, and Shantit-Mathare (a youth-led group). This was in collaboration with women led assemblies, Grassroots to Global and assemblies from Scotland.

History of Assemblies in Kenya

To make sure the participants knew the full potential of the forum, the participants went through the history of the assemblies in Kenya. With a case study and introduction of Bunge, the Peoples Parliament. This is an assembly’s model that formulated and demanded major social and political reform processes in the history of Kenya. The setup was said to be an open conversation in Jeevanjee Park, a green space in Nairobi where people debated ideas, invoked public participation, and agreed on the best direct action strategies to apply to the imminent needs of the society. Some of the impacts included leading the campaign against the high cost of Unga (flour). There were no doubts that the initiative saw through important social impacts and constitutional gains in Kenya. This was the model that led to the inception of the social justice factor and the formation of the Social Justice Centres. The objectives were targeted towards influencing citizen-led processes and inspiring the spirit of direct-action by local people. There was visible insistence on the need and urgency to build power from below, to protect our democratic gains, and advance local, people-led action.

Different Types of Assemblies

The participants went through the different types of local assemblies as being: 1) The People’s Assembly; 2) The Citizen Assembly; 3) The Delegate Assembly.

They further explored the formations, structure and design of the various types of assemblies, the impact and the levels of interactions in each of the assemblies. Assemblies serve as an alternative to the fragmentation and compromise of individual organizations. Organizations are embedded in the actions by the people. The participants delved into the impact and organization of the past and contemporary assemblies in Kenya and internationally with a case study of the East African women-led assemblies (including the Ogiek, the Sengwer and many other communities), which are organizing assemblies around the land question, and have successfully made challenges and won in the African Court of Justice. The forum went further to assess the questions of land in the Democratic Republic of Congo, political conditions in Uganda, and the assemblies in Scotland. The activities included practical learning experiences such as group discussions and site visit to the Mathare People’s Park. An ecological justice park reclaimed along the Mathare River. For an expanded version of the presentation given on all this, please see here.

Local assemblies are among the alternatives towards building a pool of popular power from below. There exist countless hurdles within our individual organizations and in communities that can be flattened through a collective approach such as people’s assemblies. People’s parliaments envision and design how our society should look, and we see our assemblies as reclaiming and building on that tradition.

Focus of Deliberations

  1. Building Local Assemblies

The participants saw the process towards the formation of the local assemblies as best to commence from an organizational level. Thereafter, identifying the issues for diagnosis and planning the local assemblies. The issues for the assemblies to focus on were to begin from the direct lived experiences affecting local people. In this case, issues of pollution and environmental degradation appeared to be the primary questions at play. This being agreeable, artistic and creative organizing, like the community theatre, were seen as reliable ways of communicating complex ideas and building broader engagement. This was to be achieved through organizing consistent, structured meetings building towards the assembly, developing clear internal structures (e.g. working groups to look at different aspects of the process, clear and transparent internal decision making processes etc), organizing dialogues with different actors, and outreach sessions to popularize the assembly.  The organizations were to guide through the process, in effect forming the basis of a steering group with accountability to the process and all those involved in it.

2. Building National Assemblies

The path to building national assemblies to discuss national matters, was to come from the various local assemblies organized in community spaces. The local assemblies will then project their ideas through to the national assembly. This would require utmost consistency, vibrancy, commitment and a resounding strengthening of our ties with the local and national issues. It would then be important to agree on a structure to apply to that, which will be the subject of ongoing popular education through community theatre and community dialogues, which can feed into a broader conversation about the kind of national assembly Kenya needs and wants.

3. Challenges

In achieving this, various issues to handle and prioritize in the planning of assemblies were highlighted. Many of these challenges impact much more than just the assemblies, but we present them here, together, with some suggestions on how their impact can be addressed within the planning and running of the assemblies themselves:

The Ecological Crisis : This is an ongoing challenge for all of us, but it impacts, particularly, those already dealing with high levels of poverty and social alienation. In relation to the assemblies, we see the need to be able to provide sheltered spaces for the assemblies to happen within and will focus on this in our fundraising efforts..
Extrajudicial Executions : Again, this is an ongoing challenge, and could potentially keep people away from assemblies. We will address this to the extent we can by ensuring a strong communications strategy, which attempts to keep the assemblies in the public eye and by building a network of other communities also holding assemblies, as a way of building mutual care and additional public visibility. We will also self-document the assembly process and have a working group dedicated to security.
High Cost of Living : This is one of the issues that the assembly may address directly, but it also impacts on whether people will engage with the assembly. We can potentially address this by fundraising to provide food for those who attend and also potentially include workshops on mutual aid as satellites to the main assembly.
Crime and Unemployment : The intention of the assemblies is to find shared solutions to the root causes of many issues, including crime and unemployment. We will attempt to either address these directly as subjects within the assembly, or, as above, create satellite workshops giving people space to think through and collectively address these issues alongside it.
Tribalism : Tribalism has become highly politicized, so it’s vital that we come to a shared understanding on how the assemblies will approach it. While accepting the cultural importance of identity, we see the assemblies as operating underneath this, at the level of our shared, human interests and will develop our communications strategy along these lines.
Lack of Water : We will fundraise to ensure we can provide clean drinking water for those attending the assemblies.
Lack of Communication : As is clear from the above, a strong communication policy will be essential to the success of the assemblies. This will focus, not only internally on those living in the area each assembly is focusing on, but also externally, towards the wider public and (for the national process) internationally. It is essential that we develop our own clear strategy for this, building as much as we can on personal relationships of trust, since mainstream and social media are largely captured and are likely to be used to work against the assembly process.
Corruption : Again, this is an issue that may be core to the question the assemblies are directly addressing. We will want our process to be as clean, clear and transparent as possible and to ensure that good internal communications can identify and report on any attempts to unfairly influence the process.

Challenges might arise from groups and individuals seeking to use such an assembly process to advance their own interests, and from a lack of communication between those engaged in advancing the process. This requires us to build a strong shared commitment to addressing social injustice, and to commit to building the structures to overcome injustice and division. 

Resolutions

1. Planning of the first People’s Assembly in Mathare, in one of the community sites, around the issues of ecological justice and state violence.

2. The need to popularize Local Assemblies towards building the National Assembly.

3. The importance of utilizing community spaces, such as green spaces, to protect and advance grassroots democracy.

4. The urgency to unify organizations within our communities and build unified approaches to local assemblies towards addressing various challenges.

Report prepared and compiled by the coordinating committee: Gacheke Gachihi: Mathare Social Justice Centre; Kinuthia Ndung’u: Communist Party of Kenya; Justin Kendrick: Scotland People’s Assembly; Eva Schonveld: Grassroots to Global.

Moderators: Njeri Mwangi: Mathare Social Justice Centre; Eva Schonveld: Grassroots to Global. 

Categories
Campaign Against Drugs & Crime Dada Talks GBV Campaign Women in Social Justice Centres

Women’s Football Against Gender Based Violence

Women Against Gender Based Violence is an initiative of the SGBV Campaign at Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC), in collaboration with grassroots organizations’ advocating against gender based violence and drugs and crime in Mathare. Mathare is one of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, with almost 300,000 inhabitants in population, the majority of whom are youth. The rate of gender based violence related cases has been growing in the post-covid period.

Kenya has undergone slow progress in realizing an end to gender based violence and inequalities. However, the process has witnessed obstacles and hurdles due to the societal differences that exist within our various communities. Most of the informal settlements in Nairobi are prone to social injustices and gender related violence, which is intricately connected to the social factors at play.

The majority of the population in Mathare lives under the constant challenge of poverty, thus making them prone to abuse and exploitation. Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) has documented and championed for social justice against sexual violence and other human rights abuses such as rape, domestic violence and defilement. Most of the violations happen from the normalization of the violence within the community, and the exposure of children and young people to the harsh environment has contributed to the increasing rates of gender based violence within Mathare.

On Thursday August 17th, 2023, the “End Gender Based Violences and Sexual Harassment Tournament” was aimed at creating a platform for interaction, exchange and advocacy against the culture of the normalization of gender based injustices. The initiative was inspired by the need to interlink social injustices to all spheres affecting women including their livelihoods and empowerment. Therefore we must prioritise the creation of safe spaces and an environment for the people. The tournament brought various individuals and organizations, which permitted a rich opportunity for robust discussions, healing and advancing to the next step towards realizing an end to gender based violence in Mathare.

The tournament targeted the young mothers who mostly got pregnant at a tender teenage period. Some of whom are referred to as MSJC teen moms. Other objectives of the tournament included the generation of mechanisms to influence policy. Gender based violence cases seem to take a longer period to be processed or acted upon. Members of the community, on the other end, fail to understand or know the what to do when faced with cases of this nature. Therefore, it was important to create awareness of the existing policies, and enable an environment to discuss the challenges in addressing these grave situations. The tournament was held at the Austin Grounds in Mathare with various teams and participants from the Mathare community. It was a collaboration of the Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) and the Coalition of Grassroots Human Rights Defenders. Other centres and committees present included the Githurai Social Justice Centre, Kasarani Social Justice Centre and the Ecological Justice Movement.

MSJC teen moms is a support group comprising of young women aged between 13yrs – 19yrs in Mathare. The team’s works towards community transformation, and fighting the systemic violence against women and young girls in Mathare. They also want to find practical means of sustaining themselves through art for social justice. The group is roughly 30 teenage moms from Mathare, who are actively engaged in community initiatives.

On, Thursday, August 17th, 2023, the MSJC teenage moms support group held a match against the CGHRD young mothers in the “End Gender Based Violence & Sexual Harassment Tournament.” Recently, there has been an observable rise in the number of cases of sexual and gender based violence against teenagers aged between 15-19 years. Most of the cases are perpetrated people close to the victims. From family members to friends, and people they know. After the crude encounter with the injustice, most victims tend to isolate themselves from the community and general reality.

The tournament’s main objective was to create awareness on the
fight towards ending these kinds of violences in Mathare as a whole. It also served as a psychosocial support extension for teen moms. The tournament was well attended by the members of the community, and especially men who were the target. After the
tournament, we had an interactive dialogue on the same theme that involved different actors and members of the community. The forum’s purpose was to stir a discussion on the way forward and the next action points. It was also meant to instigate a debate and offer a platform for community assessment and deliberation on issues related to gender relations and the increased rate of gender violence.

As a guide to the action plan, the participants proposed the following:

  1. Organizing monthly football tournaments to create awareness and intensify advocacy against gender based violence.
  2. Consistent documentation and referral of gender based violences. This needs an active gender based violence desk in specific zones, and during the tournaments.
  3. Collective design of mechanisms to promote psychosocial support among victims and survivors of gender based violence.
  4. Adopt creative modes like art, sports and theatre to sensitize and advocate against gender based violence.
  5. Consistent reflection, analysis and proposal of relevant policy.
  6. The creation of a collective framework in the fight against gender based violence.
  7. A campaign on drugs and crime in Mathare and other informal settlements.

More pictures from the tournament are below:

Categories
EJE Campaign Elections Mothers of Victims & Survivors Network Police Brutality

The Untold Terror of Police Violence during Maandamano

The protests that began on March 20th this year left behind a trail of terror. But most of the damage and loss experienced in the informal settlements has not been fully accounted for. The reasons for under-reporting are that most of the victims fear threats from authorities: being arrested, forcefully disappeared or killed. Also, they know that it will be a long painful road to justice — if they ever get it.

At MSJC we have been working to document these violences since the protests began in March. In a brief report we highlight some of the cases we have been following up on since early this year. These include the death of a two month old and a 13 year old: from tear gas and police bullets respectively.

None of these protests were witnessed in the leafy suburbs where the selfish politicians from both divides reside. None of their children lay in the cold slabs of the morgue with poor parents unable to give them decent burials. Our communities continue to be the collateral of their selfishness, but we won’t stop demanding and working towards justice.

Here is a link to the report:

Below are some cases we are following up on:

Documentation

NameNature of Case
Victor Juma, 24Arrested while confronting the police who threw teargas into his house, which affected his 2 year old daughter who fainted
Jeremiah Mwengi, 13Shot in the back of the head and died while being taken to Kenyatta hospital
Godwin Omondi Omwandi, 40Shot in the leg during the protests
Kevin Omondi, 16Shot in his private parts
Nijer Oduor, 10Three fingers chopped off by an unknown object thrown by the police
Caleb Noah, 31Shot in the leg from behind while going to pick his child from school
Loise Akinyi, 45Bullet scratch on left arm
Isaac Odhiambo, 19Hit and wounded on the head by a teargas canister 
1)Cornel Fuka, 72)Paul Mathius, 63)Sarah Fridah, 104)Fabrigas Zami, 2 monthsA tear gas canister was thrown inside the house where their parents had hid them for safety. The tear gas choked and burned them.
Francis Oponde, 34Injured on both legs by a tear gas canister
Annette Achewa, 14Was shot in the back of her shoulder
Isaac Adhiambo, 19Was cut deeply on the head by a tear gas canister 
Valentine Wairimu, 2 monthsShe was affected when tear gas was thrown on the roof of their house; she became unconscious. Valentine
died at Brother Andre hospital while receiving first aid.
Alfred Odongo Obura (40) and four othersThey are all accused of stealing gas cylinders from Shell Petrol Station on Juja Road. They are at Industrial Area Prison
since they didn’t have the 400k bond
requested by the court. The hearing is
in October.
Categories
Campaign Against Drugs & Crime

Campaign against drugs & crime

By Waringa Wahome

Our local community forum, which was held on Friday, June 2nd, involved strategic deliberations aimed at action against drugs and crime in Mathare. It was convened by the Campaign Against Drugs and Crime of Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC), and in partnership with Haki Africa. The meeting was attended by 44 people, among them youth and the elderly from the different sectors; local traders, business people, persons in recovery from drugs and crime, youth group members, community based organizations, local village elders and community members. The main objectives of the forum was to analyse and reflect on drugs and substance abuse. Above all to: (1) Identify factors that drive young people to drugs; (2) Understand the linkage between, drugs, crime and violence; (3) Examine the role that poverty plays in driving young people to drugs; (4) Evaluate and agree on what is to be done going forward. 

In April 2022, Lucy Wambui, our member and local convenor of the Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network, wrote

We can see that the government also has a role to play, they create and sustain this negative environment. When I interacted with most youths here in Mathare, I understood why the Kenyan authorities and young men in the slums play a cat and mouse game: they are like water and oil, they can never mix. According to most youths in the area, they say that instead of police officers maintaining law and order and protecting life, they make crime increase. The police are the ones who provide guns to them to go and commit crimes, and police get money from drug dens, ensuring that drugs are always sold where poor people can see them, where poor people live. At the same time, the police are arresting youths daily using fabricated charges, and some end up being disappeared and others are killed by police. This makes youths get into crime and use drugs because they have given up on life, and they don’t know who will be next in the hands of a killer cop. 

From this article, it was evident that drugs are intended to make young people in Mathare blind to the harsh realities here, and to accept the hardships caused by poverty and structural violence. In Mathare, the most thriving businesses are selling chang’aa (a locally home-distilled brew considered to be an illegal brew) and the sale of hard drugs. Communities such as Colombia, Nigeria, Kosovo, Bondeni, Mathare 3A and 3C, and Mabatini in Mathare, are mostly associated with chang’aa and/or hard drugs. These have been the most violent stricken areas in Mathare over time and in the recent skirmishes. The young people, some in their late teens, are allegedly the most involved in drugs and consequently in crime. These areas are also where most young people killed by the notorious killer cops come from.

MSJC’s membership set the scene at the meeting and introduced the campaign. The Campaign Against Drugs and Crime was birthed as an intersectional outcome of our other eight campaigns, and it aims to monitor and participate in the fight against drugs, crime, violence, extrajudicial killings and related issues. 

The community best understands the effect of drugs, crime and violence. The sale of hard drugs in Mathare exists under very unclear circumstances: sale, consumption and trafficking has been conducted in so much openness but still too much opaqueness. It seems to also thrive in extensive conditions of hopelessness, fear and violence. One attendee at the meeting, who happened to be a community leader, narrated her experience while trying to fight against hard drugs in her area, Kosovo. Her home was raided and she was consequently charged with trumped up charges in a bid to threaten her to keep silent. 

In a deeper analysis, the major effects of hard drugs include the high rates of school dropouts and early pregnancies. During the open session, most people reflected on the interconnectedness of school dropouts and early pregnancies, and the subsequent rise of crime and substance abuse.

Many people under the age of 18 are getting married, renting houses, raising “homes” and surviving through involvement in crime. Other effects that came up during the consultative forum include: poor hygiene, sexual violence that was leading to a rise in sexually transmitted diseases, insecurity, a rise in sex trafficking and prostitution. It was also apparent that children born in a family with a case of drug abuse, more often than not, follows the same parental experiences. 

It was also understood during the forum that these hard drugs do not originate from Mathare, nor are the main peddlers from Mathare. The pushers, who might be from Mathare, are in the business of sourcing for income. Other drugs, like cosmos and yellow, are alleged to have come from Mathare Mental Hospital and pharmacies that sell these drugs easily to the community.

Also, most of the aforementioned areas, like Colombia and Nigeria, have no administrative authority from chiefs, the police or the D.O or D. C., and extortion and violence forms the order of each day. Attendees noted that the recent gang fights in Mathare, which saw seven young people profiled and threatened by killer-cops on Facebook pages, were actually drug related violence disguised as ‘idle youth’ gang wars. 

Drugs have continuously unified young people, who eventually form gangs mostly utilized by politicians to achieve their interests, which in most cases are personal. These gangs are, in most cases, culprits of the different forms of violence in Mathare. Thus, in order to achieve peace and security, the attendees opined that the solution would require an advocacy campaign and an organization- based approach against drugs and violence. There is also an oversupply of drugs.

Elderly men and women in attendance had also been victims of hard drugs. Idleness and poverty were highlighted as the cross-cutting issues. The participants agreed that the community must have agency to deal with issues related to drugs and crime since the authorities seemed to be complicit in the many violent cycles of drugs and crime in Mathare. 

In conclusion, the participants agreed that unemployment is a common factor that had led young and old people in Mathare into drug use. Most of the participants reflected that the problem of extrajudicial killings had to be handled from its core, identified to be two main factors: drugs and crime. 

Young people were also advised to be considerate of the future, to reform and turn into defenders of their human right to dignity instead of succumbing to hopelessness. They also said that instead of arresting those victims of drugs, rather those who allow for the peddling and sustenance of the hard drugs business in Mathare should be detained. The people in Mathare live in destitute conditions, most have no access to food or nutrition, have no access to safe and clean drinking water, and there is no quality education; all of these issues cause the present situation.

The participants agreed to form a committee against drugs and crime, which would be coordinated under Mathare Social Justice Centre. This committee would monitor the trend of drug use and advocate against drugs, crime, violence and extrajudicial killings. 

Below is what the committee has decided to do:

 Draft a program of demands on employment and social justice 

 Organize community barazas targeted at advocacy against drugs and crime 

 Organize consistent activities that bring the Mathare community together to allow for community advocacy against drugs and crime. This includes tournaments, different forms of art, graffiti and concerts, local barazas, community cafés and focus group discussions

 Conduct consistent research, monitoring and documenting cases of drugs, crime and extrajudicial executions

 Consistent engagements with the different stakeholders on the campaign against drugs and crime

The slogan adopted during the engagement was:

TO STOP PETTY CRIME 

WE WANT JOBS!! 

TO STOP DRUGS AND VIOLENCE

WE WANT JOBS!! 

TO STOP DRUGS, CRIME AND VIOLENCE

WE NEED PEACE AND SECURITY!! 

TO GET PEACE AND SECURITY 

WE WANT SOCIAL JUSTICE!! 

Categories
EJE Campaign Police Brutality Solidarity

ODPP visit to highlight the profiling of Mathare youth

The killing of young people in Mathare and the normalization of this injustice is what sparked the emergence of MSJC. For the last nine years, MSJC has campaigned against extrajudicial killings and the cleansing of young people in informal settlements.

First it is arbitrary arrest, followed by extortion, enforced disappearance and the final stage is death. This has been the fate of hundreds of men in Mathare. Our Who is Next report documents over 800 killings by police in Kenya from 2013 – 2016.

Our campaign has been successful in ending the normalization of EJEs in Mathare. But the killings have reduced, not ended. The police have changed tactic and they now profile young people as criminals on Facebook and then they later kill them. They then parade their dead bodies on Facebook like trophies. A very colonial practice.

See here a screenshot from the vigilante police group: “Nairobi Crime Free.”

On the evening of 23rd May 2023, a notorious Facebook page with the name ‘NAIROBI CRIME FREE’ made a post threatening seven known young people from Mathare 3C. See above. The post is made through one account believed to belong to the page’s admin, known as Saigonpunisher James. The post was directed to warn the group of seven, who are members of Vision Bearers Youth Group.

Vision Bearers Youth Group is a self-help group in Mathare 3C area that was formed in 2017 to rehabilitate youths who had reformed from the difficult life of crime and violence in Mathare. The group’s main programs are acrobatics and traditional dance, garbage collection, food programs for kids and urban farming for food security where they work closely with the MSJC ecological justice campaign. Vision Bearers have 18 members, both men and women, and their future plan is to have a piece of land that they can use for ecological farming and to have a small community library.

Last week there were politically instigated skirmishes in Mathare, and almost 50 houses were burnt, and up to ten people were injured. It is alleged that the violence started because of a stolen boda boda from Number Ten area, but politicians and the police took advantage to fuel the violence that was going on. It is during this crisis that Saigonpunisher James, of the vigilante NAIROBI CRIME FREE Facebook group, profiled and threatened the young men from Vision Bearers Youth Group, saying that they were thugs who are terrorizing Mathare residents. These assertions were to mislead the public and to justify the premeditated murder of these young people.

To fight this police impunity, on Friday May 26 2023, MSJC, together with Vision Bearers Youth Group and Haki Africa, hosted and presented a petition to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP). This petition, available below, focuses on the lack of response by security agencies in addressing reports of delays in the administration of justice, resulting from incidences of ethnic skirmishes, profiling of youths, enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, drug abuse and crime in Mathare. The right to life is absolute and it is our right to live with dignity even as we strive for social justice in Mathare.

Our collective petition gave the following recommendations to the ODPP:

  1. Map and order the Inspector General of Police to investigate the faces behind pseudo social media accounts allegedly being used to profile young people as a strategy for preparing the ground for their possible execution and/or enforced disappearance;
  2. Order for the investigations of all cases petitioned during this forum to determine any incidences of culpability of any member of the criminal justice system with a view to instituting legal action against those found responsible for compromising the criminal justice system;
  3. Investigate alleged involvement of political leaders, local elders and security agencies who are responsible for inciting the youth to get involved in conflicts and insecurity, including use of ethnicity as a card for polarization and incitement;   
  4. Investigate allegations of failure by authorities to address the problem of hard drugs trafficking and use, which the community considers as a factor which influences youth involvement in crime;
  5. Apply your experience in collaborating with the CSOs fraternity to propose mechanisms for building and sustaining trust between communities and grassroots human rights defenders on one hand and security agencies and other criminal justice actors on the other hand, hence providing a space for effective use of community-led intelligence as a tool for fighting crime in Mathare; 
  6. Criminal justice actors in Mathare should agree on the formation of community peace and security committees with representatives from local communities, CSOs and government representatives to work together to fight crime as well as promote community cohesion; 
  7. Involve more youths and women in peace and security initiatives including those who are reforming from crime since they can be effective peace and security champions; 

We thank HAKI Africa and Noordin Haji of the ODPP for making the time to visit our community. We hope together we will prioritise the right to life, dignity and justice struggles of all of whom are under threat of police and state impunity.

The full petition is available here:

Pictures of the visit are below:

Categories
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!

Categories
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:

Categories
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:

Categories
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.

NAMEDATEAGEPLACE EXECUTED 
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