Last month the people of Kenya voted for a president only to have the election overturned by a presidential commission and power retained in the hands of President Mwai Kibaki. There is more information on the disputed election from the Washington Post here, It’s not a new or intersting story, we’ve seen it before over and over again worldwide. Party in power refuses to give up power, voters feel betrayed and angry, and sadly in Kenya the dispute turned into ethnic fighting and killing around the country.
But here is the interesting story. The young people of Kenya have taken publicizing the violence around the country into their own hands. Nancy Scola has the amazing story here at WorldChanging. Nancy writes that in a country like Kenya where the press is a tool of the powerful elite, the opportunities to tell the stories of oppressed people are limited. A few weeks prior to the election Kibaki shut down all live radio and television broadcasts of the election. Home Internet access is prohibitively expensive for most Kenyans. What’s the answer? Cell phones. Almost all Kenyans have one and texting is extremely inexpensive unlike in the U.S.
One of the results of Kenyans texting news to one another is the website Ushahidi.com that is mapping violence across the country, city by city, incident by incident.
The efforts of Kenyan citizens to tell each other and the world their plight using their own mobile devices is awe inspiring. Despotism, violence, repression continue to plague the world, but the courage of citizens to capture and share their stories gives us hope that a new day of accountability is dawning.