"Why I chose to stand up, alone." Boniface Mwangi

TED Fellow Boniface Mwangi on risking his life for justice, and good governance in his beloved-and mother country of Kenya. 

This post is re-posted from TED Fellows blog about Boniface Mwangi, a Kenyan Photojournalist turned activist in the service of his country. The story chronicles how this young man, call him "David" fighting the "Goliath" of Kenya's corrupt, and vicious politicians whose actions led to the the 2007 election violence.  Mwangi pictured, did not mince words, or standing up.  He was beaten severely, and jailed several times for his actions and his court cases were dragged on and on.  You can read an excerpt from his interview below and follow the link to his courageous story of sacrificing for his country and the future generations of Kenyans.

"How did you carry on after that day?

The sad thing is that the following day, my wife lost the baby. She had a miscarriage. It wasn’t related to my beating, it was just a complication. It was not easy on me at all. You can never explain what it feels like to lose a baby. You can’t even describe the pain that you go through, though I know for sure that it affected my wife more. But I carried on, trying to survive as a photographer. I shot boring assignments like models and weddings.

It was during this period that my journey as an activist began. I thought, “What now?” And the idea of Picha Mtaani, a street exhibition of my photographs of the post-election violence, was born. One of the reasons the violence had gone unpunished was that many Kenyans had not seen it happening. So with Picha Mtaani I would display my photographs of election violence in public spaces, and tour all over the country so that Kenyan people could see it for themselves.

What was the response?

It was good. People loved it. But in certain places the government denied us approval to hold exhibitions. In other places, politicians hired people to come and demolish the exhibitions. Consequently we had violent disruptions, temporary arrests, pictures being impounded by the police. It was an interesting and fun journey, though. We traveled the country, and preached peace.

Along the way I realized, “We’re talking about peace, but do Kenyans really know how they should vote?” So I have now moved away from preaching peace and turning more to political activism."

I believe that if Uganda is to see a better form of democracy that renders social upliftment for all our people, not just the wealthy and connected,  we the youth of #Uganda and today's leaders and champions of our own fate, had better learn to get inspiration from our fellow Africans such as Mwangi and work hand in hand with them to bring about social change in our corrupt, and dysfunctional political, education, health and economic systems. The Nelson Mandela's of our time will not come  with guns and machetes, or police intimidation, they ordinary people daring to live extraordinary lives such as Mr. Mwangi.

The words of Dr. & Rev. Martin Luther King Jr,  the Civil Rights Leader and Social Justice Activist should always resonate with us to remind us of this.  If our generation of Africans is ever going to see better opportunities for all our brothers and sisters of all colours, creed, geographical, economic and social backgrounds, we had better remember these words. 

"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Dr. & Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.