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Supporting Community Research to Contest the Normalization of Extrajudicial Killings and Everyday Violence in Mathare, Nairobi

Wangui Kimari, Mathare Social Justice Centre, Nairobi, Kenya / Department of Anthropology, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; wangui@matharesocialjustice.org / wkimari@yorku.ca

Peris Sean Jones, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway; psjones20@hotmail.com

Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) is an initiative by young members of the community to promote social justice in Mathare. For years Mathare has been a place where much violence has been allowed to go on without any redress for the community, especially as most continue to live in fear of consequences of standing up for their rights. These forms of structural violence include, but are not limited to, land grabbing, forced evictions, police abuse and extrajudicial killings, political impunity, and other economic, social and psychological violations. In view of this ongoing situation, a collective of young community members and experienced social justice activists in Mathare came together to envision a centre that would promote more participatory forms of justice.

While these issues have each received their own campaigns, we felt in light of the ongoing brutality of police killings in Mathare and surrounding areas, that we focus on the need to unsettle how police killings have become “normalized” in Kenya. We did this through participatory action research (PAR), along with our PAR co-ordinator, Wangui Kimari, and Associate Professor Peris Jones, but especially through the efforts of our members who painstakingly documented – at personal risk – over 50 cases alone in Mathare in recent years.

The report, “Who Is Next? A Participatory Action Research Report Against the Normalization of Extrajudicial Executions in Mathare” (also available here), is the culmination of this year-long collaborative documentation project by Mathare residents of extrajudicial executions and their impact in the community. Our efforts have already had an impact, not only by producing research that is for and from the community, but it has also fed into a national campaign against extrajudicial executions, and through which we hope the issue will receive the belated attention it so desperately deserves.

We are extremely grateful for the Antipode Foundation’s support!

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