Pushing for Good Governance Through Art


Symbols and image are very important, because there are always memorable, and that’s why we’ll look at how art has been used to push for good governance in Kenya. For the last few months the country has gone through tough times, Corruption is at its peak, everyone is going to the streets demanding salary increment, the parliament is amending Laws to their favor just few months to the elections, tough times loom ahead,. It has been difficult for the Government in explaining to the people where the tax payer’s money is going to; let’s see if things will settle down as the year begins.

For many years Art has been used as a tool for struggle, picketing and street protest worldwide, Take for example; Occupy Wall Street movement in the US. They always employ huge symbols/images in every protest they stage to send a particular message directed to the intended audience, which most of the cases is the Government, this has been very effective and memorable and it is with this that street protest in Nairobi are taking a different shape where Protesters are now employing new techniques, the use of Art as images of a Particular Non-violent Protest.

In one of the protest which was widely criticized after the protesters brought along a number of live pigs smeared with blood and sending them towards the parliament building, it was something that caught even the police unaware, sending them in a panic, confused on what to do, the police just watched from a distance as the pigs roam around until when they were able to capture them and load them in their lorries, and that was the beginning of the new form of Protest. The use of live pigs was symbolic, associating the Pig greediness to that of the Members of Parliament character, this is due to the manner in which they behave, but as much as it was unique it did not go down well with the animal protection organizations, including pig farmers who complained about the mistreatment of animals on the sole purpose of picketing. i guess they were right, and on the other hand it’s something which was memorable, one way or the other someone was bound to be offended as nothing you do will please everyone.

Use of art/Images has proved more effective, not in any way offensive, yet sending a very strong message. That same day a big pig puppet was part of the protest, it was constructed by a group of Professional Puppeteers in Nairobi, huge and visible from far it gave the protest a good image and a symbol where people would associate it with, that was the first of the many symbols which followed. Then came the Diaper babies, a well coordinated Protest with an image of 50 Huge baby puppets, the puppets were constructed in two Months a project that involved 11 Puppet makers working every day until the 50th puppet was finished, Unfortunately when it came to the Protest day, many of the puppets never got to the nerve of the protest, because the protest was cut short by Police having many of the puppets destroyed, and others confiscated.

Back are the days when Police would crush any form of protest, for the last two years no protest has been allowed to take place, the recent one which was crushed even before the protesters could leave freedom corner( a staging ground where activists gather to kick off a protest). The Government has failed in many ways to curb corruption, high cost of living, yet the Members of Parliament are earning huge salaries at the expense of a hard working Kenyan, taking to the streets is as a result of many ills that the Government has failed to tackle, yet they are now buying so many anti – riot vehicles to curb ever increasing protests in the streets.

Author: Fedelis kyalo kithome
Nairobi, Kenya

The views of the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Africa Speaks 4 Africa or its editorial team.