28 February 2013

Kenyan Patrick Mureithi Hopes New Film Will Deter Violence After Elections

The country marked national unity day, a day when President Mwai Kibaki and Premier Raila Odinga struck a peace deal that formed a coalition ... ( Resource: Kenyans Observe Five Years of Peace Accord )

Patrick Mureithi, a US-based Kenyan film-maker, has been in Nairobi promoting his latest film: Kenya: Until Hope is Found, which looks at the trauma of the 2007/8 post-electoral violence which left over 1,200 people dead. As the country enters into elections once again, he hopes the film will encourage peace.

The documentary is shot in the Kibera slum on the outskirts of Nairobi, which was the epicenter of 2007/08 violence. Mureithi meets with both victims and perpetrators of the violence and shows them a stress-relief technique which he believes could help the healing process.

Kenya's post-election violence 2007-8

The so-called 'tapping technique' or Faster EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) involves tapping on certain pressure points on the body as a means to release anxiety.

Mureithi believes that this simple technique that he describes as "outwardly very simple but simply profound", could help Kenyans relieve stress in the aftermath of the election.

"In a country where there is one psychiatrist for every half a million people and the average Kenyan cannot afford a basic counsellor that is 2000 KES or 17 euros, you need to introduce these alternative modalities of healing," says Mureithi.

Inter-ethnic tensions are still high in Kenya and some fear that tensions could erupt over the upcoming elections on 4 March 2013.

There is a likelihood, says Mureithi, that there is going to be violence. Why? "Because the violence within people's hearts has not been addressed, resolved and released."

During the last elections, the violence was sparked by claims that the elections had been rigged. Local media are also believed to have stoked tensions by engaging in hate speech.

One of the worst episodes saw a mob attack and set fire to a church in the town of Eldoret in the Rift Valley Province, where hundreds of people were taking refuge from post-electoral massacres. Fighting also climaxed in the poorer neighbourhoods and slums, such as Kibera.

Mureithi hopes his film will reach as many people as possible and encourage a message of peace. He gave several hundred copies to DVD vendors free of charge, in the hope they would distribute them across the country.

There have also been screenings in the Kibera slums and it can be viewed on YouTube.

Patrick Mureithi is Artist in Residence at Dury Universit in Springfield, Missouri, USA.

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