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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

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By Nahashon Kamau, Kasarani Social Justice Centre

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nchi gani hii, wanataka tukufe njaa?”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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:

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Nairobi- Capitalism Mtaani

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Protest Against Illegal IMF Debt

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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.

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Nigel Topping, UN Climate Champion of Climate Change Visiting Mathare MSJC and Mathare Green Movement

Nigel Topping, recently appointed UK High-Level Climate Action Champion, visited Mathare Social Justice Centre to speak with MSJC members on ecological justice. He showed support for the Mathare Green Movement, a campaign to bring dignity to the lives of people through environmental justice.

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Social Justice Reggae Kiamaiko: ‘Ndoto Za Mau Mau’

By Lena Anyuolo

Music as a form of art has been used as a progressive tool for educating and organizing the oppressed masses. Reggae music has played a crucial role in educating the people towards self-emancipation, progressive organizing and a collective awakening to end neo-colonialism and imperialism. ‘Watoto Wanasay’ will be a segment of the reggae session that will allow children in the community to be seen and heard as critical members of the community.

The first session of the ‘Reggae Mtaani’ series was held on 14th November 2020 at Al-Jazeera, Kiamaiko. The host centre was the Kiamaiko Community Justice Centre. Reggae Mtaani is a community organizing tool that aims at bringing community members towards collective reflection and collective action against marginalisation. The organizing principles are self-emancipation, resistance, restoration, redemption, liberation and celebration.

The thematic topics discussed during the session at Aljazeera were forced evictions and land injustices, gender based violence, extrajudicial executions, constitutionalism, social justice, the language of our music and ecological justice. It was also a celebration  of our history where we paid homage to freedom fighters, using this collective memory of the struggle to reflect on where we have come from and the task of our generation to realise ‘Ndoto za Mau Mau’ (the dreams of Mau Mau).

Under the segment ‘Watoto Wanasay’, we tackled children’s rights and gave children in the community a chance to have the mic to give their opinion on the positive changes needed in the community.

Reggae Mtaani  also celebrated the unsung heroes in the community such as garbage collectors, community health workers, human rights activists and the women who run the coffee and jaba bases in Kiamaiko, which are valued as communal meeting spaces for relaxation, organising and psychosocial healing.

Reggae Mtaani deconstructed the negative stereotype often used to criminalize the youth using the narrative that falsely equates jabaration, reggae music and youth bases with ‘illegal activity.’ It showed the community that a congregation where reggae music is played does not have to be a funeral or a night club, but a space where our collective consciousness is raised for self emancipation, restoration, resistance, redemption and celebration.

Reggae Mtaani was conceptualized and brought to life through the collective  effort of members of  Social Justice Centres. The activity at Aljazeera was coordinated by: MSJC- Antony ‘Kanare’ Muoki, Kinuthia Mwangi, Lena Anyuolo; DJ Talanta: ‘The one hand DJ’ was the main deejay for the event; Githurai and Ghetto radio – Edgar ‘Liberator’ Ogutu who MC’d the event and provided key information on the logistics and structure of the day; comrades from Kiamaiko Social Justice Centre who provided the chairs and hosted the activity; Al Jazeera  Group and Voice of Kiamaiko provided the venue, event marshals, and co-hosted the activity; the broader Social Justice Network in Mathare provided the sound system; and EBTI Sacco provided transportation for the equipment.

A notable success of the activity is that it was not funded, relying wholly on available resources from individuals, groups in the community and the social justice centres.

Besides members of the Kiamaiko community, the following social justice centres were also represented by their members – Kiamaiko, Ruaraka, Mathare, Ghetto Foundation, Kayole, Komarock, Githurai, Dandora and Kamukunji.

Reggae Mtaani will be a series of weekly reggae sessions held every Sunday in different ghettos in Nairobi. The sessions will be hosted by the various social justice centres within Nairobi’s informal settlements.

The next vibration will be hosted by the Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC).

To all our comrades, men an women actively engaged in the struggle, we say this: “Continue Organizing. ORGANIZE. ORGANIZE. ORGANIZE!” AMANDLA!

See pictures from the first session below:





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Why don’t Kenyans talk about Capitalism? A groundings session hosted by Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC), Africa is A Country (AIAC) and Review of African Political Economy (ROAPE)

Venue: Mathare Social Justice Centre, Time: August 22nd, 2 – 4 pm

Kenya is said to be in crisis again: too much public and private debt, too much poverty, inequality, unemployment, stress, fraud, corruption, state violence; the list goes on. These are crisis phenomena typical of neoliberal capitalism in Africa and elsewhere around the world. And yet, the public debate in Kenya hardly ever makes reference to the ‘C’ word; instead, things are explained with reference to development, “bad governance,” democracy, poverty, selfish elites, too many youth, and a drunk (or high) executive. And those who insist on speaking about capitalism are told: “we are better than those slow ujamaa people in Tanzania, where did socialism get them?”. We are tired of these discourses, and so AIAC, MSJC and ROAPE are convening this grounding to think together about why ‘C’ is so absent in our conversations, and yet what the capitalist roots of the Kenyan crisis might be. We do this also to privilege the local ways capitalism is understood and experienced, as well as the people-centred actions taken to fight it.

Welcome all!



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