Government officials have termed them as hirelings working on the behest of donors to rein havoc in the country. While some see them as defenders of human rights against government excesses. The civil society has played a key role in enjoying the freedoms that we do today. Here are some of Kenya most influential activist…
Mr Okoiti Omtatah: Outspoken Human Rights Activists
When it comes to matters he perceives will hurt the common mwananchi, Omtatah won’t hesitate to speak out. The well-spoken debater, author and human rights has been arrested not for once his boldness and sometimes unorthodox methods he employs to tackle the ills that bedevil Kenya. Omtatah chained himself on the gates of the Police Headquarters in protest of extrajudicial killings of unarmed civilians during the 2007 post-election violence that rocked the country. Together with other Civil Rights activists, Omtatah locked the offices of the then Minister of Education Sam Ongeri demanding that he steps down for his alleged role in the embezzlement of funds meant for FPE. For his troubles in ensuring that Kenya remains a just society he had his front teeth knocked out by a gang that threatened him with dire consequences if he didn’t go slow. He still remains active in the Civil Society.
Audrey Mbugua: Kenya Most Famous Transsexual
It has been tumultuous journey for Audrey Mbugua who suffered from gender identity disorder. She was born male then known as Andrew before she legally changed her name to Audrey. Her attempts to have a sex change in Kenya hit a cropper. Audrey has been in the media sharing her life as a transsexual and offering help to those with the same condition. In a country that views transsexual as satanic it took guts and earned her respect for her stand. She looks every bit as a woman. Audrey is the Project and M&E Officer-Advocacy, Outreach & Research at Transgender Education & Advocacy.
Fredrick Odhiambo Owour: Human Rights Activists
He is fearless, loudmouthed and doesn’t miss an opportunity to castigate the powers that be for corruption or human rights violations. Fredrick Odhiambo had the audacity to heckle retired President Mwai Kibaki when he was addressing the nation during the Jamhuri Day celebration held at Nyayo stadium. He was hurled out of the venue and thrown in Langata Police Station where he claims officers attempted to castrate him. Odhiambo and other protesters pitched camp at the Ministry of Education when Sam Ongeri was the Education Minister. The activists locked the gates of ministry demanding the resignations of Prof Sam Ongeri for embellezzling Free Primary Education funds. Fredrick is still actively involved in activism in Kenya.
Rev Timothy Murere Njoya: Church Vs State
The well-schooled Timothy Njoya is a retired Clergy of Presbyterian Church of East Africa and an unwavering defender of Human rights in Kenya. He was the foremost Clergy in Kenya to challenge the autocratic tendencies of Daniel Arap Moi government. This came at a cost as he was detained and brutally beaten by government hirelings for his in the full glare of local and international media that won him admiration in a country where the president was law. The Retired Minister advocated for non-violence when protesting the excesses of the government. He has been awarded several prestigious awards that include Father John Anthony Kaiser Human Rights Award of the Law Society of Kenya, John Humphrey Freedom Award of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (2000), and the E.H. Johnson Award.
Prof Wangari Maathai: Environmental and Political Activist
The first African woman to receive a noble peace prize was battle hardened and fought for the clamor of multi-party politics in Kenya. The good Professor gave the then dictatorial regime of retired President Moi government sleepless night. She teamed with other like-minded activists to protest against the construction of a huge skyscraper in Uhuru Park to act as KANU headquarters. The resilient activists rallied Kenyans and the international community leading the government to shelve the idea. During the protest that followed she was given a beating by the dreaded General Service Unit that left her unconscious. Through her Green Belt Movement over 30 million trees were planted across Africa. She Nobel Laurette died at the age of 71 due to ovarian cancer.
Boniface Mwangi: Mission Occupy Parliament
He is among the young breed of activists who is keeping the government on toes. When members of the 11th Parliament demanding a salary increment Kenyans went ballistic. It should be noted that Kenyans Parliamentarians are among of the highest paid in the world. The protester led by Boniface Mwangi likened the greediness of the MPs to that of pigs thus the MPigs to refer to the legislators. To bring the point home, the activists dropped pigs, piglets and blood in the gates of parliament. This was unconventional protests that gave anti-riot police a hard time to handle. Some of the protesters were arrested. Boniface Mwangi is a trained photo journalist who has won many awards for his exceptional work behind the lens.
Hussein Khalid: Muslim Human Rights
Muslim Human Rights (MUHURI) has been in existence since 1997 with Hussein Khalid at the helm as the executive director. MUHURI is registered as a civil society organization (CSO). The CSO core mandate is to advocate for good governance and human rights for the marginalized groups in Kenya.
Robert Alai: Cyber Activists
He is blogger of note and has ruffled the powers that be the wrong way more than once. The cyber activists is known for his scathing attack on political figures and government aficionados he deems corrupt. Robert Alai have landed him in Kenya courts and brief stint behind bars. He earned praise both locally and internationally for his timely updates on twitter during the Westgate siege.