Can Kenya’s DVD Pirates Help Heal the Nation?

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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).”

Video: Kenya: Until Hope is Found

To make a
tax-deductible donation to Patrick’s February trip to Kenya and the continuation of his
work, visit http://josiahfilms.com/donate/.

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