Unless We Die: Stories from the political struggles in Africa
The man standing next to me on a barricade in the Mathare slum of Nairobi offers a very distinct take on his commitment to the political struggle he is facing: while leaving, as he walks past me late at night, he asks if he will see me again the next day on the barricade. Puzzled by his question I ask him if himself and the other men will start protesting again in the morning. “Of course, we are. Mpaka mwisho” he says to me in Swahili. “Until the end. Unless we die.”
It is through this prism that I’ve observed and documented the political struggles in Africa for the past four years.
If a common ground exists in the process of the transformation of the political identity in Africa, this must be the shared assuredness that the time of monolithic regimes should have come to an end. Because through thick and thin, political cohesion in the African continent sees the rise of a common urge for transformation: one made from necessity, from determination and from a relentless and confident political activism.
The force of the cohesion produces change. At times, they are momentous changes. At times, they are subtle and almost unnoticeable changes like in Kenya.
Political violence has become the voice of an otherwise missing political expression. Without the everyday occurrence, without dilution and without brewing, it explodes at once. It burns fast, it cannot sustain itself: those in charge will face the masses in the streets, pushing and shoving, demanding, pretending. For a few days only, for a very limited period. Sometimes it lasts the span of a few hours. Everybody knows that those men and women need to work to provide for their families. Political activism, otherwise absent in countries where is constantly repressed and not encouraged within a democratic context, is a luxury very few can afford.
Johannesburg, February 2018.