#OccupyPlayground: Kenya’s Kids Give a Real Life Lesson

Photo by @iGitz_ via Twitter

Photo by @iGitz_ via Twitter

In what has been described as the worst attack against Kenya’s schoolchildren since independence transpired in Nairobi, on Monday school children defended their playground against a land-grabbing politician with enough power that even the authorities can not seem to stop him.

The children, ranging in age from 6 to 14, arrived to find the playground at their school with fences and walls preventing them access to it. The property was seized by the developer to construct a parking lot for a new hotel being built on the property adjacent to the school. They proceeded to break through one of the fences to be met with teargas canisters fired from police. After the children scrambled away, dogs were brought in to clear away anyone still there.

“We pushed down the wall and accessed the playground … our aim was to play but we played with teargas,” said Holy Dave, founder of an education nonprofit who was with the students at the site in an Instagram post.

“Acting police chief Samuel Arachi told the Associated Press that he had suspended the police officer who was in charge at the scene of the protest, adding that tear gas should not be used in such a situation because the protests were not violent. He said five people have been arrested; three for vandalism and two for incitement.

Photo by @InsecurityKE via Twitter

Photo by @InsecurityKE via Twitter

“We will never allow officers to use force not only on any citizen more so on children whether in a demonstration or otherwise,” he said.

Hours after the tear gassing, the Law Society of Kenya named a team of 11 lawyers to probe the police brutality against the schoolchildren, and it’s hoping to prosecute the involved officers, according to its president, Eric Mutua.”

It seems that Nairobi’s children are wise beyond their years. They know the power of social media. They understand the strength of peaceful resistance.  They learn from their past as they dream of their future.

Shouldn’t children this age not need to learn these lessons in such brutal and horrific ways? Shouldn’t a nation’s children’s needs be more important than private development?

 

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