Matigari book club is a youth educational programme at Mathare Social Justice Centre coordinated by Juliet Wanjira, a co-founder of MSJC and a student at the University of Nairobi. Matigari is one of the books written by prolific writer Ngugi Wa Thiongo, and we got the inspiration to name the club from this book.
Establishment and Support Structures
Matigari Ma Njirungi means the remnants of the freedom fighters, and we see ourselves as the generations to take up the mantle from where our freedom fighters in Africa left, because for us it is not yet uhuru; even though the physical chains are gone we are still mentally enslaved, especially through the education system in our African countries.
Matigari has received tremendous support since its inception, with the former chief justice Dr.Willy Mutunga donating the first six revolutionary books to the Matigari Library. And we have also received books from Ugandan comrades who found our work inspiring.
Receiving books from Ugandan comrades and from former Chief Justice Willie Mutunga
We also get experts in certain areas volunteer to conduct classes with the youths.We had Wangui Kimari of MSJC conduct a class on the history of Mathare, which was very insightful. The kids got to understand how it came to be that their neighbourhood is as it is today.
Scheme of Work
Matigari is a Pan-African-centred program. We teach our kids that we are, first of all, Africans, and are struggling for the same things across the continent.It is a grassroots community project aimed at fostering youths, mainly pre-teens and teens to gain values and gain confidence as dignified African citizens. The book club has a weekly class that integrates history and social matters in to a learning experience within a two hour session.We also watch documentaries concerning the class we have just had. If we learn about Marcus Garvey, we watch a documentary on Marcus Garvey. We teach about revolutionary African leaders such as Thomas Sankara, and compare them to the current leaders on the continent. This is so youth can not only understand the importance of people-centred leadership, which is a major crisis in Africa today, but also tell a genuine leader. Matigari book club is a direct response to the need for practical programs that can create a positive outcome for these youths.Ultimately, Matigari is, firstly, involved in instilling a sense of confidence in one self through different class activities and discussions overtime.
Inset: Ongoing Matigari Book Club class
Besides conducting class at the MSJC office, we also do site visits. For example, when we learnt about the great Pan African Pio Gama Pinto and Joseph Murumbi, we visited their graves to pay our homage and respect to the wazalendo (patriots). The aim was to get the members to really internalize what they learn in class. It is an important learning goal we have at Matigari to cement what was learnt in our classroom. This had a tremendous effect. One of the kids asked: where is the grave of freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi? This demonstrates the development of critical thinking skills, showing that they are picking up vital cognitive skills in the book club.
Inset:Visiting the graves of Freedom Fighters as part of the book club activities
Matigari book club is aimed at creating a curriculum that can be implemented across justice centres in communities, since MSJC is part of the Social Justice Centres Working Group in the country.
It aims to defining an appropriate code of ethics for the young people who undergo the program, and integrates youth into the activities of the justice centres gradually. It functions as rudimentary grooming and training arm for the justice centres. Over time these youths will be required to take the mantle from their predecessors.
In this regard Matigari plays a pivotal role for the regeneration of the justice centres and sustaining the momentum for human rights defenders and the struggles of tomorrow therefore:
- Matigari aims to be a standard for training youth to undertake a responsible view of the world and be of value to their community by impacting critical thinking as an approach to solving problems;
- Matigari hopes to provide supplementary education in history and give perspective to todays struggle by addressing current affairs and proper analysis of collective and individual social-economic skills;
- In the future Matigari hopes to also assist in nutritional assistance for the participants however small. It regards malnutrition as a serious threat to the youth, and with the assistance of comrades provides a wholesome feeding regime during the weekly book club class and excursions.
- Have African youths know their true histories;
- Have a network of PanAfrican youths across the continent;
- Integrate food and nutrition in to our programs.
- To create an enabling environment to appreciate oneself;
- To instill confidence and dignity in the children of the local communities in order to conscientize the continent as a whole;
- To create continuity in the social justice struggle by bringing in capable youth who are aligned mentally with the specific goals and objectives of the nation and continent;
- To show solidarity with the youth and give them a chance to self-express their natural talents;
- To implement a comprehensive meal plan for the weekly class that is nutritious and always available.
Matigari, though at budding start , is dedicated to longevity and is determined to follow through its aims as an important program for teaching and nurturing young pan Africans on the continent. We are certain that we shall continue to grow and to expand our reach, not just inNairobi, but all over Afrika.
Afrika Moja! Afrika Huru!