Kenya Speaker Tour - Gacheke Gachihi - April 2016

The baton of activism…


Gacheke Gachihi is a Kenyan social justice activist, a founding member of Bunge la Mwananchi (‘People’s Parliament’) and coordinator of the Mathare Social Justice Centre.

Gacheke visited Dublin in April as part of a European Speaker's Tour series. PBI Ireland Board member Kizito Mutahi wrote about his visit:

The baton of activism is one that must be passed on for the struggle to remain alive, as Frantz Fanon writer of The Wretched of the Earth is often quoted, “Each generation must discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it, in relative opacity.” There is a bigger picture to be lived, one that would cause sleepless nights of conceptualising and strategising for the greater good, for it is from such passions that generations leave an imprint and another is born with different battles to overcome.

Thus is the continuation of human rights activism in Kenya, Gacheke Gachihi started washing cars in his early teens after he was displaced from the Rift Valley amid post-election violence in 1992, (Irish times, April 2016). Gachihi visited Dublin in April 2016 for a speaker tour where he met among them officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs, university students, Kenyans leaving in Ireland, The Bar association and other organisations working with human rights defenders to raise concerns about police brutality, extrajudicial killings, criminalization of HRDs and a culture of impunity in Kenya. He spoke passionately of the ‘shrinking of civil space and the criminalization of HRDs and especially grassroots HRDs.

Prior to his Dublin visit, PBI UK had welcomed Gachihi in London, where he attended the spring 2016 Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders at Risk at The Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York. Gachihi describes himself, as ’a social justice and human rights defender. Over the last fifteen years he has been actively involved in community organizing in Kenya at grassroots level. Gachihi is a member of Bunge la Mwananchi (the Peoples Parliament), an organic grassroots based social movement which he participated in its formative stages, he is also the coordinator of the Mathare Social Justice Center, a community based registered organization based in Mathare that conducts campaigns on political accountability and social justice and documents cases of extra-judicial killings and police brutality in low-income areas of East lands of Nairobi’, (University of York – Center for Applied Human Rights).

Human rights defenders in Kenya face a particularly dangerous environment including criminalisation, harassment, and NGOs face threats of closure. PBI Kenya has been working with Gacheke since 2013.

You can read Gacheke’s interview with the Irish Times here.


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