I have arrived in a mess. Literally. The Pawa254 office is being remodeled as we speak, an extension is being made and there’s no denial, it’s chaos. Pawa is the Kisswahili word for Power, 254 Kenya’s country code. Boniface Mwangi has set this creative hub up in order to work on a ‘ballot revolution’. Kenya’s political landscape is divided by ethnic lines and the last elections in 2007 resulted in a mass of uncontrollable violence. The electoral commission of Kenya officially declared President Mwai Kibaki was re-elected, but supporters of Raila Odinga accused the government of electoral fraud and rejected the results. Violent demonstrations, protests and clashes between ethic groups followed. This led to over 1100 people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. The violence was incited by Kenyan politicians themselves and there’s an indictment for four of the most renowned political leaders at the International Criminal Court: current Deputy Prime Minister Kenyatta, Cabinet Secretary Francis Muthaura, Minsiter of Education William Ruto, and Joshua Arap Sang. They are all accused of crimes against humanity. To make matters worse they will stand for election again this coming March 2013. Some even in alliances that were previously seen as political enemies.
Boniface Mwangi documented the violence as a photographer for one of the main newspapers in the country – but he has quit his job to start a free exhibition that travels around the country to have people discuss and reflect on the violence. He also set up Pawa254 to work with young creatives to campaign for people to vote for the right people this time, not the ‘vultures’ that have corrupted and ruined the country in various ways since independence.
Besides the mess and building noises it is sort of quiet in the office today (although while writing this blog there have come around 8 people in), but I’m sure that this will be over soon, because there’s so much to do they cannot really decide where I should begin. And what kind of work this will be part of, the best way to explain this, is to watch this video.