A section of Kenyan youth have dedicated three-day sessions of poetry to promote peace in the upcoming elections.
They believe the spoken-word events will help them confront and discuss sensitive issues of tribalism, the vile propaganda and tension that have dominated the political campaigns in manner that promotes peace ahead of the crucial poll.
The sessions that are organized by Poetry After Lunch, a local spoken-word initiative, expects messages shared on the platform at Kenya’s National Theatre to reach a larger society given the spread of youth who travel from various cities to participate in the initiative as well as media coverage.
In addition to the group’s Thursday sessions, this Friday and Monday have been dedicated for spoken-word sessions where artistes will take turns to touch on the most sensitive issues of the upcoming elections through songs and poetry recitals to a wide audience
In an interview after the event, Convener of the initiative Kennet Odongoe told me that the youth had come from all across the country for these sessions because they understand the need to promote peace.
He said it is necessary to drum the message of peace home to all Kenyans because the elections will come and go but Kenya remains the only place they have.
“I dedicated the sessions to the elections because elections come with a lot of tension due to the interests that are at play. Through our poems we are telling the electorates that elections are like any other game, there will be winners and losers but what is important is accepting the outcome and looking into the future,” he said.
One of the artistes participating at the sessions, Hetawakii Simeon in a discussion told me politicians lack vision because they spend time telling the electorates what they already know. He said politicians are the ones who sow seeds of discord among the population, disturbing the existing harmony among citizens.
“What we need in this country is justice so that young people can live worthy lives and they have failed to create that much needed justice. There will only be justice if everyone can get one loaf of bread, but the situation where some get five loaves of bread and others get nothing, there cannot be justice,” he said.
Tabitha Mumbi, a seventeen-year-old artiste who joined our discussion on the sidelines of the event said she was committed to the event due to the carnage she saw ten years ago. She said as a child she saw many people dead and prayed that such killings will not be repeated this year.
“The message of peace will go far and wide and I want it to reach all corners of the world. There must not be violence just because of elections. I love Kenya and Kenya is where I want to be so there has to be peace,” she insisted.
Nyambura Muangi, a female artiste in the conversation charged the youth to make a sound decision during Tuesday’s polls and avoid any acts that may lead to violence before during and after the elections. She said politicians have a duty to ensure Kenya remains peaceful after the polls.
“I want progress beyond this election, Kenya has a lot of potential and we need to use it to our advantage. To the politicians, there’s nothing worse than not getting what you want but there still will be another opportunity if there is peace in the country,” she said.
Hundreds of Kenyan youth will meet again on Friday and Monday to for spoken-word sessions to continue to drum the messages of peace and love to counterbalance the heat of the campaigns. They believe that their performances that are transmitted through the media will reach the larger Kenyan society and promote peace.
By Kobby Gomez Mensah|Nairobi, Kenya