S.A.F.E.’s Peace Programme has been operational across Kenya since 2010, having started in response to the post-election violence of 2008.
Our research around this time found a widespread denial of personal accountability and anger at having been ‘used’ by the politicians; men in particular felt huge resentment that the promises made in exchange for fighting in 2008 had not been kept.
These feelings were transformed by S.A.F.E.’s first peace play and subsequent film: Ni Sisi. Responses to public performances of Ni Sisi demonstrated that free expression, dialogue and forgiveness promote the stability of communities, thereby contributing to achieving a peaceful, prosperous and united Kenya. Feedback from interviews and transect surveys after S.A.F.E.’s performances was overwhelmingly positive, with over 90% of respondents saying that they felt the play had had a positive influence on their communities. Over 80% of audience members later discussed the issues addressed with other people who had not seen the play and over 70% of respondents expressed the view that an individual can make a difference in the quest to maintain community cohesion – a significant increase from pre-show research where individual responsibility and capability was barely recognised.
The surge in violence, terrorism and ethnic tension across Kenya since the March 2013 election has built upon centuries-old tribal, economic, social and political chasms in Kenyan society and have made clear that there is still a need for S.A.F.E.’s peace work. This is particularly the case in Mombasa.
In 2015, our peace projects are:
Salim: The violent elections of 2007/8 and 2013 and their aftermaths exacerbated existing social, political and economic tensions, resulting in a Kenya where deep divisions and resentments bubble under the surface across the country. Nowhere is this clearer than in Coast Province, a religiously diverse region of Kenya that includes Kenya’s second city, Mombasa. As underlying community cohesion in Coast Province has begun to disintegrate, sectarian conflict has increased, notably leading to fractures within the Muslim community with some elements adopting an increasingly extremist stance. Youth are being drawn towards radical mosques that speak to their discontent and capitalise on inter-community antipathy.
In late 2014, in partnership with Breakthrough Media, S.A.F.E. began work on production of a feature film based on SAFE Pwani’s highly successful forum play Jack and Salim, with a significant online education component provided by Breakthrough Media. This programme of work and the film resource will draw on the lessons learned from S.A.F.E.’s successful Peace Programme and film Ni Sisi to develop and disseminate messages of peace to at-risk youth and communities on the Kenyan coast. The materials generated through these activities will be further disseminated through an online campaign targeting Muslim youth in East Africa, Europe and the US who are at risk of radicalisation from groups such as al-Shabaab operating in and from the Kenyan coast.
Who I Am: In partnership with producer Angelique Pitteloud, S.A.F.E. was pleased in 2014 to extend our Peace Programme to tackle and change attitudes towards ‘otherness’ and conflict. Funded by the Oak Foundation and Safaricom, we started shooting a documentary in October 2014 that examines discrimination based on tribe and wealth based on the famous ‘brown eyes blue eyes’ experiment carried out by Jane Elliot in America in the 1960’s. Working in three different schools in Nairobi, children experienced discrimination and then learned about the importance of a united Kenyan identity. The documentary that will be created from this project will be released in 2015 and used in schools as an education resource to facilitate discussion on the dangers of discrimination and to encourage tolerance.