On February 2nd 2018, violence erupted following the arrest of self-declared National Resistance Movement (NRM) general Miguna Miguna. He was arrested for allegedly administering an illegal oath at Raila Odinga’s self-inauguration in Uhuru Park on January 30th.
With the NRM already declared a proscribed group, police said they had little choice but to arrest Miguna.
However, youths allied to the National Super Alliance (NASA) opposition party insisted that the State had ‘declared war’ with the arrest.
The protests begin
Within just a few hours of Miguna’s arrest, NASA/NRM youths had begun to burn tyres in Kibera in protest.
The Southern/Lang’ata Bypass was blocked with burning tyres. This bypass runs just behind Future Stars Development Centre, and rioting youths began running through the compound to access the bypass from Kibera (or vice versa). Soon after the bypass was blocked by the protesters, the police began using tear gas in an attempt to disperse them.
The school closes
Very soon, the gas started to affect the children at Future Stars, who were in school at the time. In order to keep them safe, staff from the centre escorted the children home – deeper into Kibera and away from both the protesters and the tear gas.
With the residential children forced indoors and the windows tightly boarded, only the staff remained outside to monitor the situation and do their best to protect the centre if necessary. Kevin, the centre coordinator, recorded the video below shortly before a tear gas canister exploded outside the classrooms where he stood.
Three days later, Monday, and the school at Future Stars reopened. However, many children stayed away fearing a repeat of Friday’s violence and the tear gas that caused them so much pain and distress.
Those children who did attend braved the remains of the gas, which had not fully dispersed due to a lack of wind and limited ventilation. Whilst outside, it was generally necessary for the children to close their eyes and hold their noses to avoid significant discomfort.
We can only hope and pray that the situation will settle and everyone will remain safe. Hopefully the remaining children will return to school over the next few days.