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Solidarity

Under Our Skin Festival @MSJC

The first edition of the Under Our Skin Festival — to “entertain, inform and inspire” — took place between July 16 – 25. MSJC collaborated with the festival to support human rights film screenings and conversations in our community.

It was a great experience! See some pictures from the week of films below. Asante sana to all at Under our Skin and all who came out to ground these screenings in Mathare!

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Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network Exhibition

Short film on MSJC’s journey

MSJC started in late 2014, and since then we have been working to keep our community safe and to provide space for community members to become activists to defend Mathare and themselves.

We are here to create a platform to amplify community power — us together.

Find out more about our journey so far in the video above.

And many thanks to our comrade Ed Ram for his support in making it!

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Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network Exhibition

As We Lose Our Fear: Photography exhibition on police brutality

Dear Comrades,

We would like to make you aware of a new photography exhibition on police brutality opening at Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi ’s leading contemporary art gallery, on 28 July 2021.

The exhibition, named As We Lose Our Fear, is the first photography exhibition by Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC), and documents acts of violence by Kenyan police.

The exhibition presents portraits of survivors of police brutality and catalogues accounts from residents of Mathare, an informal settlement in Nairobi, who have had family members killed by police officers. 

Since 2015, MSJC has been documenting extrajudicial killings by the police in Mathare, and through protest, organizing and educational programming, we have been pushing for justice and equality for people unfairly targeted in our communities.

In As We Lose Our Fear, members of The Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network, part of the Social Justice Centres Working Group, stand for the many survivors and victims of police violence who did not feel able to give their accounts, for fear of reprisals from Kenyan police.

In highlighting these acts of intimidation and state violence, The Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network and MSJC hope that As We Lose Our Fear will inspire people from all backgrounds in Kenya to stand up for justice and equality.

The exhibition consists of photographic portraits and a book containing interviews with people who have been victims of police brutality and have had family members killed by Kenyan police officers. In some of the portraits the subjects hold up a piece of paper with the name of the loved one who was killed by police.

An opening event will be held on Thursday 29 July 2021, where members of the press will be welcome. To book a time slot please follow this link: https://artsvp.co/3fdadf

Statistics on the rising number of killings committed by the police in Mathare and accounts from the family members featured in the book are available on request. Case studies featured in the portraits are available for interview.

For press enquires please contact: Wangui Kimari, MSJC exhibition co-ordinator: matharesocialjusticecentre@gmail.com

Ministry of Health Covid-19 protocols will be observed for the exhibition. The exhibition will run until 6 August 2021.


In solidarity,
Mathare Social Justice Centre

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Disability Justice Campaign Social Justice Centres

Disability Walk Mathare

We had a protest to raise awareness about the injustices that those who are disabled in our community face. But we also demand justice!

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Social Justice Centres The MSJC Kids Social Justice Club

MSJC Kids Club Theatre

MSJC Kids Social Justice Club has a community theatre component. Recently, they did theatre about how drugs and crime are affecting youth. This was part of political education against crime, drugs and human rights violations. Viva MSJC Kids Social Justice Club!

Categories
anti-capitalism Social Justice Centres

Meeting with Huruma Police Station OCS

June 3rd 2021

Below are pictures from a meeting with the Huruma Police station OCS, Officer in Command of Station (OCS). It was organized by Kiamaiko Community Social Justice Centre (KCSJC) and Haki Africa. It was attended by MSJC, the Boda Boda Riders Network, the Security Committee in Huruma and Kiamaiko, and religious leaders.

We discussed human rights violations, crime and drugs, and how to strengthen the partnership of security agencies in Mathare. More community dialogues and a campaign against drugs and crime will be organized by the Social Justice Centres Network in Mathare in the future.

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anti-capitalism Events Social Justice Centres Social Justice Centres Working Group Solidarity

May Day 01.05.21 Protestors March Towards State House

Revolutionary Greetings to all the workers of the World. Today as we mark International Day of the workers, we express our solidarity with all the workers in Kenya and beyond. On this day, we in Kenya choose to reflect on the State of the Nation and what the pandemic has meant for thousands of workers in the country.

On the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March last year, the country was launched into uncertainty and panic as the world we knew was halted by the mysterious virus. World over, governments got into swift action to alleviate the effects of the pandemic on its people cushioning them socially and economically.  Here in Kenya the uncreative, plutocratic government employed their clownish antics barking out measures on a daily basis with no concrete scientific backing or connection to the realities of common mwananchi. To date, they continue to do so with little progress to show, tangible or otherwise. Behind the scenes they continue to feed their insatiable appetite of external borrowing and looting public resources, pushing further the already strained economy to its death bed. One year on, the government continues to tighten the noose on the necks of Kenyans with zero investment towards relieving the plight of the masses. We are now held hostage in our own country under unscientific, below the par unrealistic measurements. What started as a health crisis in other parts of the world landed in Kenya as a political and security issue with boots and guns released to the masses instead of white coats and vaccines.

Thousands of workers have lost their livelihoods around the country yet in the fallacious manifestos, the two Godfathers of corruption, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and William Ruto together with their ODM partners in thievery under the leadership of Raila Amolo Odinga, promised to create jobs especially for the youth. In their classic lameness, they continue to mock the youth in Kenya by dangling the carrots of kazi Mtaani and ridiculous wheelbarrownomics, indignifying further a disgruntled populace. How can a government loathe its people that much? That in the middle of a pandemic and with the massive job cuts they continue to loot the country coffers while locking the economy that mwananchi depends on? The constitution of Kenya under article 43 demands that every Kenyan is entitled to social welfare, quality healthcare and education, decent housing. What we have however witnessed is a dilapidated healthcare system, a confused and clueless school curriculum that has affected the quality of education our children get and a shamelessly odious external borrowing only for the funds to line the pockets of the hoggish cabal. 

We the people of Kenya, stand in solidarity with all the workers. We remember and honor the frontline workers that have died in the line of duty, abandoned by a government that was supposed to protect them. We have at heart and mind those that have been inhumanely left homeless through the evictions and destruction of their homes. We remember those innocent Kenyans that have bore the brunt of a ferine police force that has traumatized and oppressed thousands during this pandemic at the nod of their masters. We stand with all hardworking Kenyans that have lost their live hoods and now live in strenuous conditions that take a toll on their mental health. We stand with Kenyans, young and old, who have had enough and are keen to forge an army to take back our country.

In the same breathe, we the people demand:

  1. That Uhuru Kenyatta and his political groupies unconditionally unlock our country with immediate effect. The pandemic is not a political opportunity or security issue. It is a healthcare and behavioral change issue and thus should be treated as such. The dusk to dawn curfews and partial lockdowns are not only unscientific but unrealistic.
  2. That the government rolls out a well elaborated social welfare plan to cushion vulnerable Kenyans during this pandemic.
  3. Stop all the inhumane evictions being witnessed around the country.
  4. Stop aiding police brutality and extra judicial killings. All murderers in uniform must be brought to book and punished severely.
  5. Fully implement article 43 and restore the dignity of Kenyans.
  6. Lastly but most importantly, we call for the resignation of Uhuru Kenyatta and his cronies. You have failed the country and treated the constitution with disdain, refusing to live by its spirit and attempting to subvert the will of the people though the illegitimate BBI. You have lost all moral authority to lead this country. Pack your bags and go.

To all progressive Kenyans, We call upon you, invoking the spirit of our fore fathers and freedom fighters, to arise and take back our country. We cannot live in fear anymore. When we lose our fear, they lose their power. Arise Patriots Arise. Aluta continua.

Find the full statement for the May Day Protest here:

 Statement By Police Reforms Working Group:

We, the Police Reforms Working Group-Kenya (PRWG-Kenya), are alarmed and utterly dismayed by the illegal arrest, detention, and killing of Collins, a youth from Mathare in Nairobi County on 29th April 2021. This is the latest killing of a Mathare youth allegedly by a most rogue police officer known as Baraza, who operates in Mathare and Pangani areas within Nairobi County. 

Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) meticulously documented Collins’ abduction in a timeline shared on Twitter. MSJC sent pleas for help to the National Police Service, the Inspector General of NPS, the Director of Criminal Investigations without recourse…

Find the full Police Reforms Working Group Statement Here:

Categories
anti-capitalism

Nairobi- Capitalism Mtaani

Categories
anti-capitalism

Protest Against Illegal IMF Debt

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anti-capitalism Social Justice Centres Social Justice Centres Working Group Women in Social Justice Centres

Drugs and police in Mathare, by Lucy Wambui

Lucy Wambui, is an activist based in Mathare and member of MSJC.

Drug use among young people in Nairobi’s slums is on the rise. Youth also face arbitrary arrests by the police, resulting in jail time which turns them into hardcore criminals in a vicious cycle.

Those who have lived in Mathare know the various challenges faced by the many people that call this place home. When I say Mathare, I mean the whole six wards in Mathare. We lack basic services and needs; there is poor sanitation, a lack of proper housing, and a lack of jobs mostly for our youths. Many of us also count ourselves lucky if we have food every day.

At the same time, youth between 9-30 years are now increasingly using drugs. And I want to highlight why they are into drugs, where they get the money for drugs, and how this makes them a target of police abuse of power, including: extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, extortion, and arbitrary arrests.

The connection between drugs and crime among the youths in Mathare is seen, for instance, when they involve themselves in criminal activities like petty robbery in order to get money to buy drugs. Criminals also use drugs as a form of boosting confidence before they get into crime. At the same time, due to arbitrary arrests happening daily within the slums, youths are detained on allegations of drug use and trafficking, which land them in jail. After they are released, they come out being hardcore criminals, involving themselves more in crime.

Being born and brought up in a family that sells and uses drugs creates an environment for one to get into crime as well. This is even if your family are selling “illegal” alcohol and drugs to make ends meet; there are barely any jobs for us from Mathare, and our mothers selling chang’aa has enabled us to eat and go to school. But the addiction that comes about, even when one just started with small doses, can change one’s life completely. For example, Sandra, a woman I know said:

I am a mother of two and I am in my late twenties. My addition started when I was just a young girl. My mother used to sell chang’aa [illegal alcohol] and sell shash [marijuana]. I first indulged in drugs when I was just eight years old and I would take the drugs unnoticed and use them without anyone knowing. My thirst for money and harder drugs increased, and I started spiking the drinks of the clients who came to drink in our home, and I would steal from them any valuables I would find like watches, money, phones, and any other thing that would equate to cash. That’s how I got myself into crime and to date I still go to the big bars and clubs, and when I see an easy prey, I spike their drink and run away with anything I could lay my hands on. The desire for money and addiction to drugs is what makes me do this. I blame my mum for this because were it not for the environment she brought me up in I would have studied, and I would be a better person in the society.

But depression and life situations also can influence us to use drugs. Halima (20), a single mother from Mathare also shared that:

When I was just a small girl my dad was killed by the police after he was labeled a criminal. After my father was killed, me and my brother were raised by a single mum and life was not easy for us. At the age of 15 I got married and got a child. When my child was two years old my brother got arrested and jailed. My husband had a road accident the following year and died. I was left to raise my kid alone and this drove me to depression, and I started using drugs. It got so serious to the extent that I was not able to raise my kid and my mother-in-law took him to raise him.

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.

The protection of drug peddlers is also enabled by many people “in high places,” who protect them and protect their interests. These people have both interests in drugs and in crime and stopping any of these businesses would definitely cost them a lot. These peddlers include politicians, the police and the so-called local business community.

It is said that politicians are the ones who own these drugs, and they have to protect the people who sell them to ensure that there is regular flow of cash. These politicians are the ones who benefit most from criminal groups, and the ones who do nothing when we are killed. They use the petty drug dealers to cause mayhem during campaigns and other political functions, by just giving them some drugs and little cash that can make them go wild. And the police know both the politicians and those who sell drugs. But for them they make it a profit: they go to these dens daily collecting cash, which people call ushuru [taxes] or tango, and if they target anyone, they target the young men peddlers trying to make ends meet not the politicians.

The taxes they get, given out by the peddlers and other members of the “business community,” are costs for protection, making sure that drugs can be sold another day. And it is the poor who suffer the most because of these profits, like Halima and Sandra, when their families are torn apart.

Original article can be found at Africa is a Country here.