MSJC office opening event was held on 7th January 2016 at MSJC office near Olympic petrol station in Mathare. The event was attended by MSJC members and partner organisations like Peace Brigade International, International Justice Mission, Bunge la Mwananchi , Bunge la Wamama, Ghetto Foundation and friends of Mathare Social Justice Centre. The event was graced by Professor Yash Pal Ghai and his wife Jill Ghai, who have are great supporters of MSJC.
The event started at 2:00pm. After registration of attendees, we sang the the First stanza of the National Anthem. After this we had welcoming remarks from Juliet wanjira, who was also moderating the event. Then the administrative coordinator Steve Kinuthia gave heartwarming remarks on the history of MSJC, the purpose of formation and the continuing growth of the centre which has been a dream come true. He gave the plans and activities of MSJC in 2017 and the role it intends to play bearing in mind that its an election year. Steve expressed his gratitude to MSJC partners and to Prof Yash and Jill for solidarity. After Steve we had Gacheke Gachihi, coordinator of MSJC who started off his remarks with wimbo wa mapambano, and like Steve he also expressed his gratitude to MSJC partners and particularly Prof Yash Pal Ghai, whom he jokingly referred to as our grandfather at MSJC.
He narrated how at one time Prof once said money and big cars will not bring any social revolution to ordinary Kenyans, in a time when all that mattered to most of his colleagues was just that. Gacheke refers to that as an incident he will never forget.
After Gacheke we had remarks from Peace Brigade International, who have been true partners and friends to the MSJC family. They sent Sabine to speak as their representative. Sabine narrated how happy they are to see MSJC at a point where they have their own office. she remembered how two years ago we were meeting in a hotel every Saturday afternoon, at the time we would contribute money for lunch if we had it. Sabine was glad to have witnessed the growth of MSJC.
PBI surprised us all when they gave Steve an award, The Invisible Mandelas award, on behalf on MSJC. It was a happy moment! We were all pleasantly surprised.
We also had remarks remarks from representatives of partner organisations that had attended the event. Charles gave his remarks on behalf of IJM, said they are happy to be our partner and are proud of our growth. Then we had Samuel known as MC, director of Ghetto Foundation. He was particularly happy on this day as he remembered they used to host MSJC before we got our own office; it was a beautiful thing to look back to. We are forever grateful and in solidarity with Ghetto Foundation.
We then had Rachael Mwikali who spoke on behalf of coalition for grassroots human rights defenders (CGHRD). She stressed on the importance of women empowerment and read out loud a quote on the wall of MSJC office: “There is no social revolution without the liberation of women.” Then we had Winfred Olal who spoke on behalf of Bunge la Wananchi. He led us into singing freedom songs, and celebrated the MSJC office as the office of grass root human rights defenders.
We then invited Prof Yash and Jill to give remarks on being part of MSJC and on the office opening event
After that we went outside the MSJC office for a photo session, we sang freedom songs as we prepared for Prof Yash to cut the ribbon at the entrance of the office. There was joy and songs of praise and ululations from women as the ribbon was cut. We got into the office and also had a surprise. For a long time we had been brainstorming on what we could possibly gift Professor Yash to appreciate his efforts and solidarity. We finally settled on giving him a portrait of himself, wearing a t shirt written “stop extra judicial killings.” The portrait was drawn by Mutua Ndereva, coordinator of the art against violence campaign in MSJC. He, Gacheke and Juliet handed Prof Yash the portrait amidst songs and dance. The look on his face was an indication that we had settled on the right gift! He loved it, he was happy! He gave a brief acceptance speech, his wife Jill did too, they were happy to be associated with MSJC.
After this we had thanksgiving remarks from Kennedy Chindi, who thanked everyone for making the time to attending the event. Juliet gave special thanks to PBI and thanked them by name for deep solidarity and friendship at all times.
We welcome all who want justice and dignity for all peoples of the world to feel at home in our office.
Please see some pictures below from the event.
Report by Juliet Wanjira.
MSJC Secretary and Reproductive Justice Coordinator.