Dutch royalty applaud Kenyan artists for leadership

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If Chief Justice Willy Mutunga’s words are anything to go by, artist movements will be an integral part of implementing the new constitution as Kenya plunges forward into the future.

In a speech to fete photographer Boniface Mwangi, who became the youngest person to be presented with a Prince Claus Award, the CJ said there is a lot of room in Kenya for alternative leadership.

“Artists will spearhead the implementation of the constitution. I believe that. They should now come up with their own movements, and should also be the angels of a peaceful poll in this country. This is your country, make sure that it’s safe,” he said.

Mwangi is a photojournalist turned photo-activist who has worked tirelessly to promote peace and reconciliation in the country, post 2007, through his lens. His photographs, depicting the atrocities and despair faced by Kenyans during the poll chaos, have won him several awards with the Prince Claus Award being the latest.

“I personally don’t think one should gain from someone else’s loss. But one thing I can say about this is it has helped me too. I was very stressed during that time, and the photos and sharing helped me to deal with that and see a way out,” said the 29-year old.

When Boniface’s activism turned to the street through works of graffiti aimed at exposing Kenya’s corrupt leadership, the danger surrounding it not only drove the point home, but earned him the a plaque and a place at the table next to Queen Beatrix in the Netherlands.

“I will not cry,” he said, touched by the support. “I could not have done this myself. And this award is for us. There is a lot of work still to be done. Please continue supporting us.”

The Dutch Ambassdor to Kenya Joost Reinjtes who was hosting the award ceremony at his residence, said he hoped that Kenyans appreciate the work being done by the artists.

“Take the buck and ensure you vote in the right leaders…”

Friends, family and fans were present at the function, where musicians/activists Eric Wainaina and Juliani performed.

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