Boniface Mwangi Bags Luxembourg Peace Prize

  • Boniface Mwangi on 5th October 2016 during protest against rampant corruption in the country.
    Boniface Mwangi on 5th October 2016 during a protest against rampant corruption in the country.
    File
  • Activist Boniface Mwangi was on Tuesday, May 12 confirmed as the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Youth Peace Maker Prize at the upcoming Luxembourg Peace Prize ceremony.

    The Luxembourg Peace Prize is considered to be among the world's most prestigious peace awards and is facilitated by the World Peace Forum and the Shengen Peace Foundation.

    The Outstanding Youth Peace Maker is one of eight categories that make up the award gala; with other categories looking at the intersection of peace and education, journalism, technology and art among other areas.

    The award ceremony is scheduled for May 8, 2021, with the Covid-19 pandemic having seriously affected organizers' plans.

    Activist Boniface Mwangi with author Prof Ngugi wa Thiong'o in the United States
    Activist Boniface Mwangi with author Prof Ngugi wa Thiong'o in the United States in December 15, 2018
    The Standard

    It will take place as part of the 5th Annual Transatlantic Dialogue conference at the University of Luxembourg, with laureates including Mwangi to be awarded before taking part in workshops and other scheduled activities.

    News of Mwangi's selection for the prize was met with a flood of congratulatory messages, with many Kenyans thanking him for his role in expanding the country's democratic space.

    Mwangi has been recognized around the world for his work involving activism and photo-journalism to highlight real issues affecting Kenyans across the country.

    He won international accolades for his photo-series that followed the 2007/2008 Post Election Violence (PEV) and initiated a countrywide exhibition calling for Kenyans to learn from the past.

    He is also the founder of Pawa254, a creative hub in Nairobi which offers space for various youth organizations in addition to hosting various events.

    Protests led by Mwangi have also drawn the attention of many over the years, with the activist making use of every tool at his disposal to cause a ruckus over issues including corruption and hefty salaries and perks for legislators.

    He ventured into politics and vied for the Starehe parliamentary seat in 2017, losing to musician turned politician Charles 'Jaguar' Njagua.

    Mwangi also leads the Ukweli Party, formed ahead of the 2017 elections as an alternative to ethnic-based political formations that have dominated the political scene over the years.

    Since the polls closed, Mwangi immersed himself back into activism and has been using digital content to explore various facets of society.

    He recently ruffled feathers with his productions on the police service as well as live-streams from Nairobi's informal settlements such as Mathare, exposing the worrying living conditions many Kenyans survive in every day.

    His production on the police saw him don full police uniform as he broke down the origins of the corruption and brutality associated with police officers in Kenya.

    Mwangi called for a radical shift to re-think how officers are trained and remunerated, claiming that the country's law enforcement officers currently saw citizens as the enemy.

    "For example, when you're leaving your workplace or just talking a walk. You're harassed, you're told come here, 'What is your name?'

    "You're told to show your ID. When you do, you're told to show you're work ID. If you don't have it you're in trouble because being unemployed is a crime, you can be written down for vagrancy. And then you're asked, where is something for the police? You know, police are poorly paid, and it is deliberate.

    "They are poorly paid so that they can extort money from you. At Kiganjo, you're told that a police officer should not be poor because the citizen is an ATM for police. When they see someone or a car, they see money. They are taught to extort and get bribes from you because they're taught you are the enemy," he asserted.

    Activist Boniface Mwangi in police uniform in a video shared online on April 2, 2020
    Activist Boniface Mwangi in police uniform in a video shared online on April 2, 2020