As part of an ongoing series of programs to combat identity-based violence (IBV) in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, the Auschwitz Institute’s Africa Programs Office (APO) organized a virtual Memorialization Training Seminar for key participants from four electoral violence hotspots in Kenya (Mombasa, Nairobi, Kisumu, and Uasin Gishu). Funded with UK aid from the British people through the Jo Cox Memorial Grant, the 5-week training seminar was held from August 16 to September 17, 2021. The event benefitted from opening remarks from Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the United Nations Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide.
The development of the virtual training seminar’s curriculum was informed by an assessment conducted by the APO team in coordination with its local partners. This assessment took stock of legal and institutional definitions, ethical protocols, programs for the prevention of identity-based violence, as well as challenges and opportunities for memorialization in Kenya. The resulting online course was divided into five components that captured the trajectory of electoral violence covering the period between 2007 and 2017. The activities were designed to highlight and reaffirm the importance of memorialization and to facilitate its application in local contexts. Doing so furthers the prevention of IBV and creates opportunities to develop interventions in view of the upcoming August 2022 elections.
The 45 virtual program participants represented numerous government departments and international organizations, as well as prominent members of civil society. During the training sessions, participants noted that memorialization is a mechanism that States, civil society, and survivors often turn toward to reclaim their dignity, remember their loved ones, rebuild community, or reinvent an identity. The course curriculum highlighted the importance of memorialization initiatives to the prevention of identity-based violence and to rebuilding efforts that take place after a society has experienced large-scale violence, such as in Kenya. The seminar curriculum culminated with a capstone panel discussion that was broadcast on National Television in Kenya on the eve of International Peace Day. The seminar also produced a policy paper on memorialization in Kenya, which was disseminated as a takeaway resource that participants, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders can use in advocacy and during the implementation of their projects.
At the conclusion of the training program, attendees formed Field Research Teams (FRT), one for each of the selected electoral violence hotspots: Mombasa, Nairobi, Kisumu, and Uasin Gishu. These FRTs became the primary coordinators in the production and testing of an educational documentary containing testimonials, manifestation, and mitigation strategies for electoral-related IBV.
“Never Again” is a unique documentary that tells the personal story of some of the survivors and victims of the electoral violence that took place between 2007 and 2017 in Kenya. The film highlights several country-specific IBV conditions and reaffirms the urgency of preventing any escalations, especially with the elections taking place next year.
Dr. Ashad Sentongo, Director of AIPG’s Africa Programs, emphasized the value of the “Never Again” documentary, explaining that:
The need to prevent identity-based violence remains high on the list of enduring challenges for States and civil society organizations in the Great Lakes Region. Memorialization presents a unique and powerful opportunity for transgenerational learning about past atrocities to facilitate efforts towards “Never Again” initiatives to prevent the recurrence of such crimes. AIPG collaborated with the Kenya National Committee to build capacity for memorialization among State and CSO leaders. This partnership led to the production of our “Never Again” documentary to build awareness towards the prevention of electoral violence and other mass atrocities in the country.
To watch the “Never Again” documentary, please click here.
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