, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 25 – The protest got off to a slow start at the set time of 10am with a handful of what appeared to be homeless men marching up and down Harambee Avenue with a banner that read, “youth against terrorism.”
But things started to warm up when Francis Ouma, clad in a red t-shirt branded ‘Tumechoka’ (we’re tired), went on his knees outside one of the access gates to the Office of the President and began shouting at the officers manning it.
“You should be in Mandera, not here guarding a select few Kenyans and pieces of paper,” he said in reference to Saturday’s execution of 28 Kenyans near the Somalia border.
Before long, Ouma was joined by a few dozen other protesters clad in similar T-shirts and with placards that read, ‘Safety is my right,’ ‘Promises, promises, promises, do it,’ and ‘Bribery keeps our borders porous.’
All messages targeted at President Uhuru Kenyatta and perhaps best expressed by the t-shirts branded, ‘Mr. President we need your action on security.’
Other than placards they also brought with them hundreds of small crosses painted red.
“Red for the blood of those who’ve lost their lives to the incompetence of Lenku and Kimaiyo,” protest organiser Boniface Mwangi explained.
The ouster of Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku and Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo being the main motive for their sit-in outside the Office of the President.
“If he (President Kenyatta) is too afraid to sack them, let him do what he did with the intelligence chief and ask them to resign. How many more people need to die before he takes decisive action?” Mwangi posed.
But what was meant to be a peaceful protest got volatile with the arrival of Mwangi and his team. The homeless youth, armed with knives, began to destroy their crosses and demanded to know where they got money to print T-shirts and purchase crosses.
All of which took place in the full view of anti-riot police who stood by and watched passively.
“If the police can just stand by and watch I need not ask who brought them here to harass us,” Mwangi said in reference to their raggedly clad aggressors.
In their matching T-shirts, Mwangi and his supporters were definitely not ruggedly clad and one wouldn’t expect it of gospel hip-hop artist David Mathenge who was among their number.
“I’m here because I’m tired of being a keyboard protester as most middle class Kenyans are accused of being. I’m tired of being afraid, being afraid to shop because I’m reminded of Westgate.”