Ha!Kuna Matata: Security in Kenya


Security is a word oft used and misused all over the world.

In its simplest sense, it implies the absence of threat or some kind of insulation from threat. In its most complex sense, it could refer to the various arms, barricades and weapons systems that countries build to keep immigrants, refugees and all those various “Others” out. It could mean being able to walk down the streets of your own hometown without feeling watched, harassed, persecuted or stalked. It could mean knowing where your next five or ten meals will come from. It could mean being able to ride a matatu, or suffer an accident without worrying that the police will threaten or actually bring you harm.

We know what is on the news – we also know what isn’t on the news – all those silenced stories of the robberies not reported, the assaults never believed. We want to tell these stories. We want you to grasp that our country is ever moving, ever evolving – sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. We want you to experience Kenya as we do, not as a large, undifferentiated monolith – a big block of “Africa” – but as this transient, malleable thing that we know it to be: a place where the difference between usalama and not-usalama could be the difference between getting on one matatu and not the other; of driving home using one road and not the other. We also want you to think deeply about elements of Kenyan living that we take for granted – such as fences – and analyze phenomena like terrorism, and modern techniques like forensic science, and their impact on Kenyan life.

Ultimately, this Kenya is our story too – not just the story of the wenyenchi. It’s time to take back the narrative.

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