Following the devastating violence around the 2007/2008 general election, S.A.F.E. utilised their trusted position in communities to create an open and honest dialogue about tribalism and the way that it was being manipulated and exploited by political candidates and leaders during elections. S.A.F.E. used their popular strategic communication tool, high-quality mobile street theatre to open this dialogue. The play, Ni Sisi (It’s Us), promotes a Kenyan as opposed to tribal identity, and examines individual’s role in achieving stability, and was mainly performed in communities worst affected by the post-election violence.
S.A.F.E. built on the success of this initial intervention and created two powerful films. The film Ni Sisi, based on the original street theatre production, was screened in the run-up to elections to promote peace. The film was screened twice the night before the 2013 election on Kenya’s most popular television channel, reaching audiences throughout Kenya.
The short film Who Am I? focuses on tribalism within schools and within the home. Inspired by Jane Elliot’s “Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes” experiment, the film delicately picks at the religious and tribal tensions that exist in Kenya, by creating an exercise in which the class is arbitrarily divided into groups. The children narrate the experiences and talk about the lessons they learn as they themselves experience the anger, frustration, and powerlessness of prejudice.
Feedback from interviews and transect surveys after S.A.F.E.’s Ni Sisi interventions showed that 90% of respondents said that they felt the play had had a positive influence on their communities. Over 80% of audience members later discussed the issues with other people who had not seen the performance, 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.