A Blue Heart, Joy’s Story at KNT… Get your Tickets Early

The Kenya Blue Heart Grassroots initiative will be staging “A Blue Heart; Joy’s Story on 24th at the Kenya National Theatre. For reservations kindly see the poster below:

 Follow Bwana Mdogo Arts and other artists against human trafficking by liking their facebook page. Artists sharing this passion too are welcome to join in.


Art: Struggling Against Trafficking in Persons: A luta Continua

By Mike Mungai

Follow Bwana Mdogo Arts and other artists against human trafficking by liking their facebook page. Artists sharing this passion too are welcome to join in.

Innovative strategies will emerge as a function of networking, experience sharing and learning together. Simple tools on the other hand are more effective.

One thing that every individual and organization acting to combat human trafficking will agree with me on is the high dynamism of human trafficking. As a result of this dynamism, many are the times that we actors against Trafficking in Persons, TIP, feel like giving in especially when it comes to research, prevention and rescue. On one particular day, an actor against TIP will realize how a particular tactic of TIP exists and will move in to combat it, but come again tomorrow the tactic will have changed. The more we work, the more experienced we become in matters relating to countering  TIP but our experience and the experience of traffickers and exploiters is directly proportional to each other. Hence our task becomes harder.

The quick ability of traffickers, exploiters and all benefiting from TIP to re-strategize and come up with new trafficking tactics in short periods of time gives actors against TIP a terrible headache. So far, it has proven impossible to clearly define the tactics used by traffickers. Intergovernmental bodies, governmental initiatives, NGOs and individuals come up with strategies to combat TIP, but most of these strategies become functionally obsolete just after a short period of implementation. Awareness creation will be carried down, but still recruiters will find a way to manipulate the vulnerable persons; the police and border officials will be capacity build on how to identify and handle cases of TIP but still transfer of victims of trafficking will occur. It seems that every time actors against TIP make a step, traffickers make a stride.

What are we, as actors against trafficking supposed to do? Give up? Implement obsolete strategies? No. Not at all. Being on the side with inadequate resources, poor or no networks at all and being limited by geographical regions of intervention is heartbreaking yes. But, we should persist and remember that a battle is not necessarily won by the size of one’s army neither is it won by the number of sophisticated weapons that one has, but rather by a will to win.

We have to keep on keeping on, we have to create awareness even if it is to one individual, we have to continue rescuing and ensuring the successful re-integration of survivors of trafficking, we have to prosecute even if it is one trafficker. These done in many localities and over a period of time; will go a long way in ensuring that the masses know what is trafficking, no one is held in slavery and that traffickers are held accountable for their actions.

Ngugi wa Thiongo has written many books whose theme is on freedom and liberation of the vulnerable masses from oppressive tendencies of the powerful.

It is a huge challenge considering the numbers of people being held in slavery at the present time. We should nonetheless face the challenge by its horns. Ngugi wa Thiongo in “the river between,” says that; “There is not a night so long that it does not end with the break of dawn.”

The struggle continues.

Blue Hearts, Joy’s Story at KNT: Get your Ticket Early

The full version of the “Blue Hearts, Joy’s Story” will be staged in Kenya National Theatre on the 24th March 2011. For tickets kindly call Noella on 0720302364 or Akil on 0700393931.

You can also write an email to kenyablueheart@gmail.com

Follow Bwana Mdogo Arts and other artists against human trafficking by liking their facebook page. Artists sharing this passion too are welcome to join in.

UGANDA: Trafficking Women to Asia Increasing says IOM

KAMPALA, February 17, 2012 (CISA) -International Organization for Migration (IOM) Uganda is concerned about an increase in the number of Ugandan women trafficked abroad, particularly to Asia. Victims of trafficking whom IOM has helped to return to Uganda have reported being subjected to sexual slavery, rape and torture.
In the past four months alone, thirteen victims of trafficking were rescued in Malaysia and referred to IOM for assistance to return home. Ugandan sources suggest that there may be as many as 600 trafficked Ugandan women currently in Malaysia, with between 10 and 20 more arriving each week.
“Prevention offers much more positive outcomes if all stakeholders, government and civil society take timely action against human trafficking” says IOM Uganda’s Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. “IOM has been working with the government to help victims of trafficking to rebuild their lives, but once the damage is done, it is hard to reverse,” he adds.
Predominantly young women have been trafficked either by individuals or employment agencies, typically lured by promises of lucrative business, job, or study opportunities abroad.
“Someone promised me a job in a Ugandan restaurant in Malaysia. I was taken to Bangkok for two days and then on to Malaysia. The place I was taken to in Bangkok was very terrible; it was like a mad house. There were about 20 Ugandan girls, very young girls of 20, 19, and 17 years old. They were taking weed, cocaine, smoking pipe in the corridors. I managed to keep my cool because I thought if I would react badly I would be put in trouble or beaten or even killed,” said a 22 year old victim who recently returned home with IOM’s help.
“When I reached Malaysia, I was taken to this Ugandan woman who was supposed to give me a job. This lady told me: ‘Shower, then eat, then sleep. You start work tomorrow.’ The next day she told me there was no restaurant work and I had to prostitute myself. Every day I should give her US$ 200. She showed me a metallic heater and said if I did not do everything she said, she would hurt me with it.”
 In 2009, the Government of Uganda enacted the Uganda Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act. However, the growing number of trafficked persons over the last two years calls for coordinated efforts in properly understanding the problem, while investigating and prosecuting human traffickers.
IOM recently received support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to develop a coordinated response to human trafficking in Uganda.
Globally IOM is the leading agency in counter trafficking and prevention of human slavery. Since 1994 the organisation has implemented almost 500 projects in 85 countries, and provided assistance to approximately 15,000 trafficked persons.

Blue Hearts Joy’s Story Featured at Precious Blood Primary School (Amani)

Story by Bernard Muhia and Sammy Mwangi

The full version of the “Blue Hearts, Joy’s Story” will be staged in Kenya National Theatre on the 24th March 2011. For tickets kindly call Noella on 0720302364 or Akil on 0700393931.

The Kenya Blue Hearts Grassroots Initiative (KBHGI) members went to Amani Center, the charitable primary school wing of Precious Blood High School in Kawangware to create awareness about the  human trafficking problem. The visit on 18th February 2012 was so much appreciated by the students. The students  did join the “Blue Hearts” on stage at one point during the staging of the play ‘A Blue Heart: Joy’s Story.’

Sammy Mwangi the  Consolation East Africa (CEA) Coordinator who had visited the school last year on a workshop against human trafficking opened the session by introducing the topic of the day. The Blue Hearts had visited the school to create awareness about the  human trafficking challenge in Kenya communities.

Sammy Mwangi opening the session

Sammy Mwangi then invited Mike Kasongo from Sanaelimu Art to kick start the performance. With the background drumming, Mike from Sanaelimu opened the floor with a narration of Joy’s story.  As the story went on the audience became more attentive to get the gist of the story. With the exit of Mike, Joy’s play’ started off as the audience kept the dead silent following keenly each step of the performance

Mike Kasongo with other members of Sanaelimu Art warming up the stage

This was followed by the acting where the characters of Joy and Auntie took to the stage and dramatized the dilemma that faced the two with regards to the poverty that they were facing. This was moving Auntie to want to discontinue educating Joy.

After every episode the Mike Kasongo ‘the narrator’ could interact with the audience posing questions to them hence making it more interactive, entertaining and educative too. Issues of child labour, child abuse, child trafficking were manifested during the play. Pupils were also challenged to report cases of abuse or any violation of their rights committed to them or other children.

Jacinta (in white headgear) plays the character of Auntie and Benta (in maroon school uniform) plays the character of Joy.

The play is very dynamic in that it has several sessions throughout the performance where the students get to participate in the dissemination of the message of counter human trafficking. This ensures that they are not just a passive audience but rather they are also engaged as agents of change. This is well capture in the following photograph.

One of the students answers a question during the interactive part of the play

The interactive session wasn’t just about questions and answers. At one point during the dances, some of the students were invited on stage to participate in the dancing. This energized the students so much that even some of teachers came rushing on stage to be part of the performance.

Teachers and students join in on stage during the performance.

Finally, the moment came for the poems and Viona Wamuyu gave a heartfelt rendition of the poem ‘Kaa Chonjo’ which is Swahili for ‘Be Alert’.  Viona  held the breath of the audience as she rhymed  line by line, word by word warning them to ‘be watchful’  meaning ‘ Kaa  Chonjo’ in Swahili. With simple words in simple English meant for the standard of the target audience the message definitely reached home.

Viona Wamuyu of Fern Poetry

The performance at the Amani Center is part of a long, interesting, entertaining and educative story which  will be launched on 24thMarch, 2012 at Kenya National Theatre(KNT). From the play, the pupils got to understand about the problem of human trafficking. Pupils interviewed gave their sentiments. One said ‘The performance made me understand clearly the issue of human trafficking’ said a standard eight pupil. Another one said that through dance and poem he was inspired and was passionate on using songs to educate other children and highlight their plights.

When the performance came to an end, the Principal Mr. James thanked the team and pledged to bring his students to the Kenya National Theatre for the full version of the play. The principal promised that he will give support on any   endeavor to see that the play is launched in attendance of a large number of audiences by sponsoring at least half the number of the audience (i.e. classes 6, 7 and 8).  Also he was to arrange a meeting with the Precious Blood High school principal to share the initiative of the Blue Heart. He related the story of Joy to majority of his pupils who go through many challenges in their families, and are from the streets as others are rescued from abusive parents. The play will also be staged on 8th March at the Braeburn School Theatre as well as in high schools and social/community halls.

Schools, churches and communities are invited to get in touch with the Blue Hearts on 0720302364 or  0700393931.

Art: Street Children are Vulnerable to Human Trafficking

Follow Bwana Mdogo Arts and other artists against human trafficking by liking their facebook page. Artists sharing this passion too are welcome to join in.

Art by Mike Mungai (Bwana Mdogo Arts)

Street children constitute an example of the globally deprived and poor. They are highly stigmatized, seen as outcasts and at most treated inhumanly. Their rights are neglected and forgotten.

Communities forgot long a go that they are children just like other children in the society and do need protection and care. These children are trivialized, and do not seem to add into the human statistics of communities in the world. When for example they are injured, harmed etc; people would not raise any brows. This happens because they are   victims of an economic and social system that has secluded them. The street children phenomenon is a symptom of an underlying problem of poverty and hopelessness that is aggravated by the global relations of inclusion and exclusion.

Picture source The daily increasing number of street children does not make the situation any easier. In a street of three kids  one could disappears and maybe a new one will appear to fills  the initial void.. and the cycle continues.
The possibility could be that the new case and the other case are cases of trafficking but who follows these dynamics?

Due to their vulnerability and being trivialized, street children are on a high risk of being trafficked, exploited and they also risk facing untold acts of violence and human rights abuses. In Kenya in 2009, a street boy narrated how extreme acts of violence occur in the streets involving the law enforcers. This narration became a popular musical hit that became controversial as the boy artist had  not been recognized as the artist. He later talked to Ghetto Radio:

“I heard Ghetto radio asking who the original Bonoko singer is and that is when I decided to present myself. I’m surprised that there is even a video to the song and worst of all most people assume that is me;I’m not asking for a lot of money just a little fee for appreciation.” See the saga here

Human trafficking is a great risk faced by the street children. This is for various reasons one being that they have very loose family connections and are known to be very mobile. Their disappearance may hence not raise any alarm. For example if in a particular street there were three children who use to beg together. If it so happens that one of the children is not present in that street anymore, who will ever know? And who will ever bother? And incase this child was trafficked who will ever imagine the ordeal the child is going through whether being defiled, or being slaughtered or being exploited in ways unimaginable to us? This occurs because these children are excluded and outcasts. Their presence or absence is trivial to the mainstream society. The following song shows what the street children pass through: This link takes you to  Bonoko in Ghetto Radio

So Bonoko was interviewed by media back in 2008 as the Kenyan police had just shot a suspected thug in Ngara village, the hood now famous for hosting Ghetto Radio offices. He had this amazing story as he had seen the police killing a young boy, caught urinating at an alleyway. Come to think of it: this is is a common story in Nairobi, where life is worth not more than 50 cents.

After cops shot the young boy dead, they had put a fake gun in his hand to make it look like a legitimate killing. This scenery all being watched by our boy, Bonoko, and bluntly addressed to news hunger media teams. Get the entire story from Ghetto Radio Here

Street girls on the other hand are badly exploited and violated. At times with people who are supposed to help them.

I came back to the streets after my friend was sexually abused by the people who were helping us. She had been damaged badly but no one seemed to care. The streets are scary but I would rather stay here (Mama Africa a street girl in Nairobi).

On the other hand there have been reported cases where children were adopted from children homes only to end up in a trafficking situations. Usually, children homes do not follow up to know what could have happened to the adopted children after the adoption procedure is complete. The children Act 2001 should be updated on the adoption section and compel that the adopters to ensure that the child and the adopters maintains  networks or relations with the original place they got the child. This will help raise eyebrows in good time if  some strange signs are noticed even many years after adoption.

The World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children, adopted by the World Summit for Children 1990, realizes that millions of children around the world live under especially difficult circumstances and deserve special attention, protection and assistance from their families and communities and as part of national efforts and international co-operation. Efforts must be made to ensure that no child is treated as an outcast from society, which is especially relevant for street children.

Story by Muko Ochanda

Men sentenced to 18 years for slaying South African lesbian

From Nkepile Mabuse, CNN
February 3, 2012 — Updated 2130 GMT (0530 HKT)
Murder motivated by hate in South Africa
  • A judge rules that killers targeted Zoliswa Nkonyana because of her sexual orientation
  • Prosecutor’s spokesman: The sentence shows “hate crimes would not be tolerated”
  • Rights group: “We hope that this message is heard loud and clear across the rest of the continent”
  • Four men are sentenced to 18 years each in prison for the 2006 slaying

(CNN) — Gay rights advocates in South Africa hailed a judge’s sentencing of four men to 18 years each in prison for brutally slaying a 19-year-old lesbian.

Hatred fueled the 2006 stabbing and stoning of Zoliswa Nkonyana, who was targeted because of her sexual orientation, Magistrate Raadiya Whaten ruled.

Four years’ credit was given to Lubabolo Ntlabathi, Sicelo Mase, Luyanda Londzi and Mbulelo Damba, meaning they will spend 14 additional years behind bars.

“The sentence sent a strong message that hate crimes would not be tolerated,” national prosecuting attorney spokesman Eric Ntabazalila told the South African Press Association.

Gay rights advocates celebrated Wednesday’s ruling.

“It was the first time discrimination based on sexual orientation was named as an aggravating factor in a South African criminal trial,” the Triangle Project gay and lesbian rights group said in a written statement.

Gay marriage is legal in South Africa, which was the first African nation to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries, based on rules left over from the British colonial era, when sodomy laws were introduced.

Despite South Africa’s anti-discrimination provisions, attacks based on sexual orientation persist, rights groups say.

After interviews in six of South Africa’s nine provinces last year, New York-based Human Rights Watch concluded that “social attitudes towards homosexual, bisexual, and transgender people in South Africa have possibly hardened over the last two decades. The abuse they face on an everyday basis may be verbal, physical, or sexual — and may even result in murder”

This week officials from another rights group said they hope this week’s sentencing will set a precedent across Africa.

“We hope that this message is heard loud and clear across the rest of the continent, where homophobic discrimination is widespread and where homosexuality is a crime,” the non-profit People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty said in a statement.


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