3 days to the start of the 2016 Grand to Grand Ultra…
I’m always interested in learning about the efforts and actions of people making a difference in society.
I had the privilege of meeting Boniface Mwangi, an award-winning Kenyan photo-activist, on a recent trip to Tanzania. Boniface has become synonymous with political and civic activism in Kenya, often using unorthodox methods to highlight critical challenges facing Kenya today. He smeared blood on live pigs outside Kenya’s parliament while protesting excessive salary increments by MPs, and works with local graffiti artists to paint powerful social justice messages on Nairobi’s streets.
He is an outspoken critic of corruption in Kenya and its implications for the future of the country. After quitting active journalism in 2008 because he had grown frustrated with the lies and conduct of Kenyans politicians, Boniface founded Picha Mtaani, a travelling exhibition that was part of an effort to foster dialogue, reconciliation and healing in Kenya. In 2011, he established Pawa254, a collaborative space that brings together journalists, artists and activists seeking innovative ways to achieve social change.
Only in his early thirties, Boniface has already received much recognition for his work in a short period of time. He has been recognized as a Magnum Photography Fellow, Acumen Fund East Africa Fellow, TED Fellow, twice as the CNN Multichoice Africa Photojournalist of the Year, Global Post Person of the Year 2012, Africa’s Top 30 Most Inspirational Young People 2013, Temple University USA-Society of Emerging African Leaders Award 2013, and the Prince Claus Award. Boniface is currently a senior TED fellow, and will publish his first solo photography book later this year.
One of Boniface’s recent initiatives which caught my attention while preparing for the upcoming Grand to Grand Ultra was a 350km walk he organised to commemorate the 6th anniversary of the promulgation of the Kenyan Constitution.
The walk started on 7 August 2016 in Kisumu, and finished on 21 August 2016 at Freedom Corner in Uhuru Park in Nairobi. The walk was called Ni Yetu, which means “it’s ours” in Swahili. It aimed to instil a sense of ownership and identity in Kenyan youth, and acted as a rallying call for patriotic citizens to stand up and take ownership for the future of the country. Artists from different counties joined Boniface during the walk, and gave performances and participated in discussion forums in different towns along the way. More than 5 000 copies of the Kenyan Constitution was distributed during the walk.
Actions speak louder than words, and Boniface is the epitome of someone no longer prepared to wait for the social and political change required in Kenya. His actions are inspiring many of his fellow Kenyans who would like to see their country achieve its full potential. He is an example of a new generation of young Africans impatient with the rhetoric, corruption and lack of performance of the current political leadership on the continent, and willing to do something about this situation.
The countdown to the Grand to Grand Ultra continues…
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Together, we can END NTDs!