Feature

Young artists using theatre to embrace diversity and preach peace in Nairobi’s slum

Voice of Dagoretti is a community-based organization (CBO) that raises community awareness and offers solutions to people living in Nairobi's informal settlements.

Young artists using theatre to embrace diversity and preach peace in Nairobi’s slum
  • PublishedSeptember 26, 2022

John Mwangi was born and raised in Kawangware and is privy to the problems facing people in low-income neigbourhoods. Some of his experiences growing up in the area have shaped most of his decisions as an adult. For instance, some of friends, age-group peers, and neighbours who were arrested by police during the 2017 post-election unrest.

He believed that most of them lacked knowledge about politics and politicians. With this background, he established Voice of Dagoretti, a community-based organization (CBO) that raises community awareness and offers solutions to people living in Nairobi’s informal settlements especially since the challenges in Kawangware, are similar to those in other Nairobi’s informal settlements such as Mathari, Korogocho, Kibera, and Dandora. 

According to John, the CBO uses art to communicate with the public in marketplaces and along roadsides. Thus, it makes it simpler to communicate with individuals and speak to them in a language they can comprehend as they go about their business.

“The majority of Dagoretti’s youth are artists. They are either rappers, dancers, or actors/actresses, and we are utilizing their talents in our advocacy work,” John explained to Parents magazine.

 

Youths holding a peace walk g in Kawangware to mark International Peace Day. Photo by Tebby Otieno.


The CBO, which now has 35 members, has created job opportunities for its members while empowering the community. According to John, the group has brought equality and, as a result, has helped residents embrace the area’s diversity through art advocacy.

Nelly Njoki, programs manager at Community Education and Empowerment Centre (CEEC), says they have been working with young people to say no to violence, particularly before, during, and after elections. CEEC is a national NGO that seeks to empower, particularly young people, on issues of peacebuilding, gender leadership, and good governance.

 

Voice of Dagoretti artists performing in Kawangware to mark International Peace Day. Photo by Tebby Otieno



“We mainly use artists. As a methodology we use theatre on issues of civic education, voter education, peace around reconciliation, and how can we embrace diversity,” Nelly explained.

After a relatively peaceful electioneering period, Nelly says that CEEC is trying to consolidate the gains made in the last few months. They work with youths in five Nairobi informal settlements to ensure that communities kiss the peace to have developments and be aware that the elected leaders will serve everyone regardless of ethnic background.

“Youths are more interested in holding our leaders accountable and very vocal in saying, this is the time when we all have to work towards understanding each other and embracing each diversity.” She says.

While the country held peaceful elections, Nelly believes it is critical to maintain peace even after elections. She says that responsible citizens understand that voting fulfils their responsibilities and ensures that elected officials serve them. This year’s International Peace Day was held on September 21st, with the theme “End Racism. Build Peace”

Written By
Tebby Otieno

Award winning journalist. Feature writer.