Can Kenya’s DVD Pirates Help Heal the Nation?


 Still from Kenya Until Hope is Found 
Amidst rising ethnic tensions over the coming Kenyan elections, one filmmaker sends his message of healing through a well-established network of DVD pirates.  

"Before the 2007 post-election violence occurred in Kenya, my country was seen as an island of stability in a region of conflict," says Patrick Mureithi in his recent documentary, Kenya: Until Hope is Found. The election results he refers to—which many have since agreed were flawed—resulted in clashes that killed more than 1,200 people and displaced another 500,000.

At the time, Mureithi had been filming a documentary, ICYIZERE:hope, about a reconciliation workshop in Rwanda that brought together survivors and perpetrators of the country’s 1994 genocide. But in the years since Kenya became the site of its own ethnic conflict, Mureithi has turned his attention closer to home. With a new vote just a week-and-a-half away, tensions between tribes have been rising. While many groups are taking steps to make sure the elections are peaceful, the threat of violence looms.

Part of the problem, according to Mureithi, is that people have not had an opportunity to heal from the trauma of the last election. "In a country that has one psychiatrist for every half-million of its citizens,” he says, “one of the most pressing issues to be addressed is that of unresolved psychological trauma. As a nation, how can we heal in order to avoid repeated cycles of violence, in order to ensure that our children have a secure future?"

Kenya: Until Hope is Found documents a three day workshop called "Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities," with severely traumatized residents of Kibera, a neighborhood that Mureithi describes as "Kenya's largest slum and the epicenter of the violence."

But it was not enough for the men and women included in the workshop to experience healing—Mureithi wanted every Kenyan to have access to the same process. So when he finished his documentary last December, he handed it over to his local DVD pirates. "My reasoning was that since they have the most efficient distribution system in Kenya, then they would be able to get the film into as many hands as possible," writes Mureithi. "As I type, their vendors are selling the film country-wide for less than 80 shillings (approx $1)."

3/19/2014 4:48:42 PM

With a new vote just a week-and-a-half away, tensions between tribes have been rising.

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