What Is Your Take On The Ongoing Maandamano?
Nationwide protests have erupted across different parts of the country, with a significant involvement of young people at the forefront of the demonstrations. The ongoing protests have been predominantly led by the Azimio La Umoja coalition, leader Raila Odinga, who is urging the Kenya Kwanza government to address various demands, including a reduction in the cost of living.
The right to protest is protected under Article 37 of the Constitution of Kenya, which guarantees the rights of every person to assemble, demonstrate, picket, and present petitions to public authorities in a peaceful and unarmed manner. The 1950 Public Order Act, as amended, further governs public assembly in Kenya, requiring individuals intending to organize a public assembly to give the police notice between three and fourteen days in advance.
This week’s #CoffeeBarTuesday focused on the ongoing anti government protests. During the discussion on the ongoing protests, participants were asked why they would attend the demonstrations. Out of 42 attendees, only 6 confirmed they would be participating, 4 were undecided, while the rest cited various reasons for not attending. Some reasons given by those supporting the protests included the burden of high living costs, overwhelming taxes, the call from Raila Odinga to join, proximity to the protest location, a desire for the president to hear their concerns, demands for President William Ruto to step down, and the unfulfilled promise of affordable unga to Ksh 100.
On the other hand, those who were undecided about attending expressed that their participation would depend on factors such as security and the overall situation during the protests. Those who decided not to attend cited reasons such as a lack of peaceful protests in Kenya, work commitments, nothing will change even if we demonstrate day in day out, belief that the demonstrations are politically driven rather than people-driven, personal losses experienced due to past protests and concerns about personal safety.
“…I am protesting to call the government to lower cost of living and also reduce the price of unga. Whatever I am doing right now might not bear fruits right but they eventually” participant said
During the discussion, one participant highlighted that protests often involve four types of people: those genuinely advocating for the cause, those attending for entertainment or fun, those present due to peer pressure, and individuals with malicious intentions to vandalize and steal. Recent protests have seen a mix of peaceful participants, those having fun, and others engaging in property destruction.
The issue of safety during protests was also a prominent topic of discussion. Many participants pointed out that confrontation often arise between the police and protesters, with provocations leading to reactions from both sides, including teargas or stone-throwing. The Ministry of Interior and Coordination reported the arrest of 300 people during the protests, and the number of fatalities remained unknown.
A psychologist present during the discussion emphasized the importance of prioritizing personal safety in all aspects, including physical, emotional, and mental well-being during protests. She highlighted the potential risks involved in protesting and the need to ensure one’s safety, as there may be others with different intentions amidst the demonstrations.
…I am already counseling kids who lost their father during protests, losing someone is so traumatizing. As you join the protests, make sure you are safe both mentally and physically” Psychologist said
As an organization, the message conveyed is that we believe in the rule of law and understanding the reasons behind young people joining the protests. We acknowledged the diverse motives for joining the protests and emphasized the importance of protesting peacefully without resorting to violence. The key takeaway was that one should prioritize their safety and well-being during protests and refrain from engaging in activities that may jeopardize their lives.
In conclusion, we as an organization encourage peaceful protests while ensuring safety, and reminded everyone to be cautious and protect themselves during the demonstrations. See you on Tuesday!