Cellphones are being used in Kenya’s tense elections today to capture and record violence – important evidence that activists failed to get their hands on in the bloody 2007 polls when the country erupted into tribal violence.
One person is convinced that the phones will put in check the electoral violence in east Africa’s biggest economy, as millions lined up to vote early morning and reports of violence were reported on the coast city of Mombasa.
“Because the activists needed video documentation skills as they missed the opportunity in post election violence in 2008, so this time around they needed to document any violence,” said Bukeni Waruzi, Senior Program Manager – Africa and the Middle East WITNESS.
WITNESS is an international human rights organization that was founded by Peter Gabriel in the aftermath of the Rodney King incident in the USA.
Witness has trained 124 activist and citizens have been trained and equipped to play their part in recording any violence especially in the trouble spots around the country.
“Filming violations is a powerful way to confront violence–think of Neda Agha-Soltan–but filmers need significant knowledge to film effectively and safely. In these intensive workshops, attendees learned concrete tips, like how to safely upload a photo, and how to make their videos usable as evidence,” said Kim Howell, online coordinator for WITNESS.
Their work is expected to be complemented by the 77 percent of Kenyans who have cellphones and may this time maximize the power that they have in their pockets.
Outgoing President Mwai Kibaki, candidates and civil society groups have all appealed for peaceful poll after the disputed vote five years ago resulted into a wave of killings by rival tribes and left 1,200 dead.