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Reform Magazine | May 24, 2017

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A letter from… Kenya

A letter from… Kenya

Benson Khamasi reports on a wave of nonviolence in Kenya

Active nonviolence is taking root in western Kenya. We are experiencing a wave of social change activism, correcting social injustices in our communities. This is as a result of Turning the Tide (TTT), a programme introduced to us by Quaker Peace and Social Witness and implemented here in Kenya by Change Agents for Peace International (CAPI). Since its inception in 2010, the 20 trained agents that I was privileged to be one of, have diligently confronted social injustices in their communities with great success.

In one successful campaign, I led a group of boda boda (motorcycle taxi) riders to demand their rights. Local authorities were levying taxes, but delivering no services. Half the taxes collected ended up in a few corrupt individuals’ pockets, and there was a lot of harassment too. After a TTT workshop, the riders used active nonviolence to unearth the corruption in the county council. The team, together with the identified community allies, planned a nonviolent campaign that targeted the top leadership of the council in a bid to unmask this injustice.

At first, it was a challenge. No such campaign targeting top leadership had ever succeeded. Power holders were known to retaliate with force. This time, the TTT team in Kakamega steered the campaign, often changing the plan to ensure the objective was achieved. Eventually, we uncovered enough facts to force the council to stop levying the taxes. We gave a memorandum to the chair of the council outlining the demands of services to be given to the boda boda group.

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This is an extract from the February 2014 edition of Reform.

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