Stop Recycling Vultures, Vote Wisely!
A picture is worth a thousand words, Boniface Mwangi must have known, when he embarked on the controversial graffiti campaign in streets and neighbourhoods of Nairobi in 2012. This September, UP heard from the fearless activist on his timely campaign to inspire Kenyans with political enlightenment. The archetypal vultures on which the caricatures are based represent the competitive exploitation and destruction of masses by the political elite. This graffiti venture was named “Vulture Campaign”—its members adorning black hoodies with a vulture crossed out in red at the back. It generated lots of public interest, for it’s creative way of exposing political hypocrisy.
It also attracted the ire of the City Council of Nairobi, which instructed its workers to obliterate the work by painting over it. “The ‘vultures’ [politicians] also tried to pay us into their camps but we refused so they left us alone,” he revealed. Thanks to the “Vulture Campaign”, Boniface was awarded the Prince Claus Award in a ceremony held in Amsterdam, Netherlands on December 13th 2012, attended by the country’s Queen, Beatrix. His latest campaign extends far beyond his famous graffiti murals that are covering the walls around Nairobi.
In November 2012 he took part in launching a new campaign called Ma-Vulture. “It is a shame that we have many citizens who don’t vote and let the minority recycle corrupt, selfish leaders for them then they later complain,” he says. With a mission to “to inform Kenyans without fear or favour”,Mavulture.com puts political candidates through severe scrutiny and acts as a journalistic watchdog in hopes of providing Kenyans with a more informed choice. The campaign is supported by Boniface’s usual method of operation in the form of different kinds of graffiti that is designed to create awareness and prompt reflection. “We [citizens] should keep leaders accountable to their promises. After all, life will continue beyond elections,” he advises.
Is Kenya’s first Openly-Gay Presidential Candidate still in the running?
Denis Nzioka drew a lot of reaction from the Kenyan public for two reasons: first, for being openly gay and secondly, for declaring his intention to run for president. In our February “Freedom” issue, we asked Dennis why he eyed thetop seat and in our follow interview last December, why his political ambitions have somewhat become a mystery. Acknowledging that he is yet to make a large enough impact to gain sufficient votes, he states that, after evaluating his presidential bid, he had to delay it.
“I have to work on it, cultivate an image, strategize and gather resources to have an impact but the ambition is still there,” he says. He believes that Kenya has not matured enough to judge leaders based on substance saying that the current politics is being played around tribal and personality inclinations. He is, however, appreciative of the emerging youth’s political consciousness that, given time, will eventually take the reins of leadership. “We are part of that growing leadership, we might not have the muscle and numbers but we are coming. And I’m part of that ‘Third Wave’. Watch out in about, five years,” he says.
New Insights From the “One Man Army”: Omtatah is Up and About
UP featured Okiya Omtatah in the October “Got Power?” issue, and it was obvious that he is an activist cut out for war. For years he has pit himself against entrenched Kenyan institutions, challenging the status quo in the quest for justice. Despite his peaceful means, violent reprisals often await him.
He has clashed with the past and present regimes over land grabbing, human rights abuses, abuse of power, as well as corruption and impunity. Last December, UP caught up with Omtatah heading to the Milimani Law Courts where he had a case challenging the suitability of the firm the government engaged to supply the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits. Even though the voter registration exercise is over, his case is ongoing and slated for a hearing on January 10th 2013. He is fully recovered from the injuries he sustained in a night attack on November 8th 2012--allegedly due the aforementioned BVR case. Omtata feels that investigations by the police have been unsatisfactory.
“It has seemed that my report of the matter at Central Police Station has become just a statistical report, as only statements have been taken but no action,” he says. Among the new developments, he revealed, is his intention of vying for the senatorial seat of Nairobi County. His ticket would be on the Ford-Kenya/ CORD ticket. Why this party? “I have been a member of Ford Kenya ever since its inception in the early 1990s and it’s only this time that I’ve decided to vie,” he replies. He is of the view that he can better vouch for change as an insider than fight from the sidelines. “I have purposed to offer leadership at the senatorial level as it is the ultimate level of accountability for the county and hence national government,” he explained.
Rape in Marriage now Marital Sexual Assault
Charlotte Campbell-Stephen’s search for justice has lasted more than six years and it goes a long way in highlighting how the laws haven’t been speedy in delivering justice to sexual crime victims. We preciously covered her story in our December 2011 and July 2012 editions. In 2006, the Sexual Offences Act was enacted in Kenya in an effort to improve the legal framework in such cases, however the implementation has seemed to be halted. Even though the Task Force for the implementation of the Sexual Offences Act was constituted to hasten implementation of the laws, minimal progress has been witnessed despite the task force’s mandate lasting over five years.
However, as described in our July issue, the law exposes a separate problematic issue: Marital rape. Section of the SOA 43(5) defines intentional and unlawful (sexual) acts on which this Act is hinged, inapplicable to those in lawful marriage based on the assumption that the act of marriage itself guarantees consent to sexual intercourse. In plain language it means that it is legal to rape your spouse, because the law assumes a partner’s consent. . And marital rape is not an uncommon practice. According to the 2008/2009 KDHS 37 percent of women who have experienced sexual assault report the current husband or the partner as the perpetrator.
There’s a small light at the end of the tunnel. Section 3(a)vii of Domestic Violence Bill of 2012 passed by the Kenyan cabinet seeks to criminalize marital rape, now referred to as ‘marital sexual assault’. The offended family member/spouse may then seek protection orders from the police as investigations are carried out, after which legal proceedings will be carried out if the findings yield sufficient proof of violations.
But there is a long way to go before this is enforced. Not only does it require legislation, but it also requires a change in attitude by both law enforcement and victims. Beatrice Chelang’at, Senior legal counsel, Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya, (FIDA) says that in most cases, women who are raped by their husbands and partners don’t really know that a crime was being committed against them.
Cases of sexual assault in marriage, she reveals, emerge in the process of attempting to find a solution for problems women mainly approach FIDA when they seek help for child custody, separation, divorce and domestic violence. “Most times, we discover from them that they have indeed been sexually assaulted by their partners when they report their partners ‘forced themselves on them,’” she says.
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