As I shared last week, the pre-election climate in Kenya is very different now from my previous trips. The pace of Sisi Ni Amani‘s work is much faster as the March 4th election approaches. I continue to be encouraged and impressed with the diversity of peace work and large number of civic engagement initiatives happening across Kenya. Sisi Ni Amani is one of hundreds of groups with a mission to strengthen civic education and prevent a repeat of electoral violence. It seems like each day I learn about art being used to empower and inform or Kenyans using technology, social media and/or grassroots organizing to nurture the peace.
This week I shot two Sisi Ni Amani workshops that will help prepare the team during this election period. A Security Workshop on Tuesday offered new ways for Coordinators and staff to think about keeping safe and being more aware of the risks inherent in their peace building work. Several Coordinators have shared in the past that working for human rights in the informal settlements and Kenyan countryside and demanding accountability from leaders responsible for bringing resources to the communities does carry the risk of verbal abuse and threats of physical violence. I, too, have security on my mind after receiving a text last night about increased tensions in Dandora, a site I hope to visit next week.
On Wednesday members of the Nairobi and Narok Teams came together for a message creation workshop. Reflecting on the conditions and unique characteristics of each community, they generated a list of possible message themes and content to draw from in the coming weeks as time gets tighter. Rachel and Kevin shared the importance of creating messages with intention, focusing on the words and phrasings that will have the greatest impact and resonance with particular groupings and community members. There is a science and sophistication to this work, based on organic, grassroots research. The workshop challenged the team to draw from this knowledge as they prepare an easy-to-use resource for future peace messages. Check out some raw footage from this workshop below.