15 January 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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A night behind bars
The start of a collaboration of Fremantle and Koch (Nairobi) artist started on a high note when 15 of them were arrested and held for more than 11 hours in a Nairobi police station. The arrests were a clear demonstration of the impunity with which the Kenya police force operate with and the rampant human rights violations that the people of Koch and in deed the Kenyan community have to deal with. The police were heard beating accused persons a tendency that was also found amongst the inmates.
Jaime Yallup, Paul Roe and Ben Wandei of RraFT were in one of Nairobi’s largest slum areas, Korogocho (Koch), collaborating with local organisations Pendo Theatre, Miss Koch and Koch FM to attend the World Social Forum and also support community action through street theatre.
With hindsight the night behind bars served to deepen the discussions and engagements as the team prepared the theatre production that captured the realities of life in a slum from the youth’s perspective. The performance at the World Social Forum struck with resonance to the audience: one young lady had been asked for sexual favours by her bosses to maintain her position she declined the offer lost her job but got another. Attesting to the fact the abuse and harassment can be fought through resistance.
The RRaFT crew are bringing back with them a life time experience choosing to reside in the slum with the people sharing all the facets of life, from catching a matatu(bus) to town, eating ugali, chapati and madodo(maize, flour meal and beans), wash in the public showers. The children were the most amazing with choruses of “How are you” or “Mzungu”, which made the team at home. Every where there were children playing with soil or self made toys quipped Jaime the director RRaFT.
The workshops, the performances and the community visits were filmed and will be a basis for a documentary film celebrating youth resilience in Koch to be released in July.
Within an environment of inadequate and inaccessible health facilities, high levels of illiteracy, unemployment and an unprecedented crime rate, these Koch organisations have created powerful programmes that have effectively improved the lives of many of the inhabitants of Koch. And RRaFT was there to learn from the people who are turning the tide of things around tapping into the wealth and energy of the youth churning out innovative community development processes.