Activist Boniface Mwangi vs Atwoli’s Army

I am deeply disturbed by the above video.

All Boniface Mwangi did is what many are afraid to do – he called a spade a spade. He stood up and shouted “msaliti”  which means traitor. This was directed at Francis Atwoli, the secretary-general of the Central Organisations of Trade Unions (COTU), who has sided with MPs and their outrageous salary demands rather than the workers he is supposed to represent.  More on this here.

Perhaps the gold rings that adorn Atwoli’s fingers make it difficult for him to roll up his sleeves and do the “dirty work” that comes with advocating for workers rights. Maybe he thinks that workers are satisfied. Who knows why he does what he does!?! Who knows why he doesn’t simply just do better!?! It is no secret that people are disappointed in his leadership but like in many other situations they have decided to simply accept and move on. As Kenyans, we have become so indoctrinated in this accept-and-move-on culture that it hinders us from demanding better not only from our leaders but also employers, employees and service providers among others.

Back to the video. If what Boniface Mwangi did was so disruptive, all they had to do was cuff him and take him away. Instead he is attacked and manhandled by a gang in suits and some policemen. Atwoli then proceeds to declare, “Jeshi langu liko huko litadeal na hawa.” (My army is there and will deal with them) this man has his own personal army!?! How is that even possible!?! Last I checked, Kenya has a national army that is there to serve, protect and defend every citizen. Why is it that this individual has his own personal army, uniformed in suits, waiting on the wings and ready to jump on anyone who dares to stand up against him!?!

What is even more disturbing is that this took place in front of the president and his deputy and neither of them said anything about it. Even now, hours later, still no word from either of them. Really now!?! Really!?! Yes, I know the president and his deputy have “bigger” issues to deal with. That’s fine…they should handle those issues like the bosses that they say they are. However, there are other “smaller” issues, like this particular one, that need to be addressed. Why does someone have his own personal army? Why is excessive force being used against a person who is simply exercising his right to protest?

According to the Kenyan Constitution, “Every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities.” Boniface Mwangi was well within his constitutional rights. The president and his deputy promised us that they would uphold the constitution. This was and still is an opportunity for them to do so. Mr. President, Mr. Deputy – your move.

I know that there are people, myself included, who have some ideological differences with Boniface Mwangi. However, we can all agree that Kenya would be that much better if we each had half of his patriotism and courage. I have been following his work and his message has been constant – Kenyan belongs to us and we are the only ones who can create the Kenya that we want to live in. It’s time for us to speak up against injustice. It’s time for us to hold our leaders accountable. It’s time for us to demand better. The more we accept and move on the worse things will get.


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