This article was written by the Peace Brigades International - Kenya Project.
“A picture is worth a thousand words” is an adage that we all know and it is one example of how visual messages can be powerful. Particularly at a time when adverse circumstances - like has been the case with Covid-19 in the last two years - allow security forces to repress freedom of assembly and expression, the need to become innovative and find diverse forms of communication becomes imperative to the survival of the activity and the safety of individuals.
Corruption, increasing cost of living, poor social services, sexual violence, abuses, extrajudicial killings, and environmental degradation are some of the matters that activists take to the streets as part of their rights. Nonetheless, even when demonstrations remain within the legality of such actions, the protesters are seen as a nuisance and often dealt with by police violence and arrests, which also deter ordinary citizens from associating with these initiatives.
Instead, what security forces cannot attack, and citizens are sometimes more attracted to, are artivists' initiatives, which go from concerts, different sorts of exhibitions, mural painting, community dialogues, sports events, and celebrations such as International Women's Day.
PBI Kenya has and continues to support mural painting in five of the biggest urban settlements in Nairobi, involving more than 1,500 people in the designing of messages and the painting itself. Together with Missing Voices, we have supported the artivist concert ´Our voices are irresistible' during International Human Rights Day and the ´They Were Us´ book launch of the Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network. Radio shows in local radio programs have reached more than 2 million people.
The photobook HRDs in action is one important example of finding diverse forms of communication. In this photobook, we share the work and life of HRDs and the fight for human rights. You can see the full digital version here.
These are very powerful messages that contribute to educating people, stimulating reflections and promoting changes to increase respect for human rights, respect for the world in which we live, equality, and dignity for all human beings.