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MSJC Celebrates 70 years of the UDHR with the OHCHR

On September 21st MSJC celebrated  70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The theme of the day was “Watu wote wamezaliwa huru, hadhi na haki zao ni sawa”: all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, which is the first article of the UDHR. This event was organised in collaboration with the UN High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR). Approximately 100 people attended the event. Those who attended the event were representatives from the OHCHR, various social justice centre members (Korogocho, Guthurai, Dandora, Kayole and others), Amnesty International, Kenya National Commission for Human Rights (KNCHR) and Mathare residents.

After a few opening words, Mathare Empire started the celebration in style with their Nairobi song.

A couple of documentaries explaining the importance and relevance of the UDHR were then screened. They covered the rights granted by this declaration, stressed the universality of those rights and highlighted how the UDHR has shaped the international human rights legal framework.

Anthem Republic then took the stage. His powerful spoken word performance dealt with various rampant human rights concerns in the informal settlements, such as ecological injustices and gender-based violence.

The festivities continued with some dancing by the youngest talents of Mathare: the MSJC dancers.

The first speaker was Marcella Favretto, the UN OHCHR coordinator of Kenya. She discussed how the UDHR is a universal tool and how it has shaped the progressive Constitution of Kenya. She then assured the crowd that extrajudicial killings and police violence in informal settlements are issues on the agenda of the UN.

Mama Victor, the mother of two victims of police killings, then shared her experience. Speaking on behalf of other families of victims, she described the challenges that they have to go through.

As the coordinator of Mathare Green Movement (MGM), Wyban Mwangi explained the philosophy and actions of the movement: making Mathare cleaner, greener and more beautiful through planting trees and creating public spaces.

Wilfred Olal then spoke up to represent the justice centres working group. He invited the crowd to reflect on what we were celebrating, as residents of the ghetto do not seem to benefit from those human rights if parents are questioning whether their kid will grow up to become an adult. Olal then praised human rights defenders for putting their lives at risk on a daily basis and thanked the UN OHCHR for their support to those grassroots efforts.

After that, Kepta Ombati from the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, discussed how the UDHR is a powerful tool to fight structural oppression but stressed that revolutionary change must come from the oppressed. Charles Kigotho from the same organisation underlined the necessity for all levels of human rights defenders to work hand in hand.

The last speaker from Amnesty International discussed how there is no equality before the law in Nairobi, as most habitants do not understand nor feel the same pain as informal settlement residents.

After explaining how education on human rights come prior to their implementation and respect, Beverline Ongaro and Marcella Favretto from the OHCHR generously donated books to MSJC. Those books will hopefully promote knowledge and the respect of human rights as the more one knows about them, the more one can speak up about them

Those speeches were followed by musical performances by Micko Migra and Mathare Empire, and an extract from the Heart of Art’s play ‘Necessary Madness’ on political accountability.

The day ended with the inauguration of the new mural in front of MSJC’s office. The artwork is based on the Mathare Futurism philosophy:  imagining possible realities then ultimately working to design a new future for Mathare.

On behalf of MSJC we want to thank you all for your solidarity and for making this day special! See pictures from this day below.

 

 

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EJE Campaign Events

Kumi Naidoo solidarity visit to MSJC

Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo visited MSJC and the Justice Centre Working Group with colleagues on August 22nd. During this visit he learned about the history of Mathare and the many struggles of its residents who survive and thrive despite the many state violences. Kumi met with mothers of victims of extrajudicial killings, young people who have come together to green and regenerate their environment in Mathare and many other residents and human rights defenders from across the city who are part of Justice Centres in Dandora, Mukuru, Korogocho, Kiambiu, Kayole and other poor settlements in Nairobi.

Kumi heard from various residents, danced and sang with us, and later planted trees together with those who had lost members of their family through extrajudicial killings. During this visit he also demanded that the president act to stop extrajudicial killings, and committed Amnesty International to working on this issue. Kumi was joined by colleagues from Zimbabwe, London and Kenya, and we are glad to move forward through stronger collaborations with Amnesty International for justice and dignity for all peoples. You can read more about his visit here as well as see some pictures below.

 

 

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Events

Solidarity visit by Former Chief Justice Willie Mutunga to MSJC

On April 12th 2018,  former Chief Justice Dr. Willie Mutunga paid a solidarity visit to MSJC. We were happy to welcome him and during this visit we discussed issues such as how to bridge the gap between grassroots human rights defenders and mainstream human rights organizations, an Eastlands -wide campaign on extrajudicial killings, developing a campaign on Article 43 of the constitution and the criminalization of human rights defenders, supporting the mothers of victims of extrajudicial killings, among other issues. We look forward to welcoming Dr. Willie again to our office, and to fostering a relationship of solidarity and justice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Events

CUEA Law Students Solidarity Visit to MSJC

The Mathare Green Movement (MGM) & International Justice Mission (IJM) were joined by a group of 45 Law students from Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) for a dialogue in the community. This was followed by a tree planting activity. The dialogue was held at Mathare Environmental Conservation Centre (Pequininos) in Mlango Kubwa. Discussions revolved around issues of extra-judicial executions, police abuse of power and political accountability in the community and our role as citizens, law students and the community at large. This was a great session that saw students leave the classroom to interact with the community in person. MSJC’s Kinuthia Mwangi talked about the social injustices happening in the community, with young people being executed by a notorious killer policeman, the community suffering from the inadequacy of water, houses going down in huge fire losses, and public spaces being grabbed. He further insisted that the students should go down to the communities more and get first hand information, not just read what is in the books or online.

Mutisya Muasya (Kaka), the founder of Pequininos spoke of how the space was once a garbage place, which he and other youth cleared as a personal initiative, later building an environmental centre that multitasks as a base where community members watch football matches at a fee in order to generate an honest income for the members of Pequininos. Most of the proceeds also go into their program of feeding over 300 street children. They collect garbage as well for a living, an activity that sees them redeem themselves from crime. This was also seconded by Kanyi Wyban, coordinator of MGM, as he introduced this ecological justice campaign — MGM. He appreciated that most of the people involved were the youth and that means substantial change –  revolution coming; young people coming together to make a change for their community without waiting for help from outside. Wyban discussed the philosophy driving the Mathare Green Movement and insisted that green spaces are safe spaces.

Afterwards, everybody was invited for a walk through the community area, to Mathare Old Primary School, where we planted trees with some of the pupils and staff members. Mr. Maina, the environmental club teacher in the school appreciated the positive act and the fact that  young community members are taking the initiative to bring change in Mathare. We called it a day, having planted a total of 53 trees within the school compound! We thank all who came through to make this a success. See the pictures below!

 

 

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Events

Social Justice Struggles in Mathare: Reflections with Shiraz Durrani author of “Kenya’s War of Independence”

Join us on at the MSJC office on Sunday February 18th @ 2 pm, as we reflect on social justice struggles in Mathare with Shiraz Durrani. This event precedes the launch of Shiraz’s much awaited book “Kenya’s War of Independence: Mau Mau’s legacy of resistance to Colonialism and Imperialism 1948 – 1990” which will be launched on Wednesday February 21st at the Kenya National Theatre – 5.30 – 7.30 pm. We look forward to grounding and reasoning with you this Sunday as we reflect on the struggles that we are facing. Karibu nyote!

 

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