Nature and Categories of Activists In Kenya
A people’s notion of social justice and the desire for a just society is the basis for various forms of defiance in a society. This implies that at all levels of human existence and organization, defiance is inevitable. In sociology, defiant behavior and crime are seen as forms of resistance against the social system, the norms or the circumstances in which individuals find themselves. Apart from those who resort to crime and armed struggle, and there are those who use civil means in pursuit of social justice. The latter form of engagement in defiance defines what people consider as legitimate defiance. In many jurisdictions, although frowned upon, civil disobedience and agitation has been hailed as a heroic form of defiance.
There are subtle forms of defiance that people practice. Hairstyles and dressing codes are major signs of defiance. For instance, Locks and shaving styles, tattoos and certain forms of dressing have been subtle forms of defiance at the individual level. In other instances, individuals have withdrawn from society and attempted to live life free from social influence. Stories abound of people resigning from jobs and choosing to live quiet lives because of perceived injustices in the social system.
Kenya has a rich history of defiance. Defiance, resistance and related activism is part of human nature. Human beings in the face of injustices or pushed against the wall will resist, become defiant and engage in actions aimed at precipitating change. The methods, strategies or approaches used depended on
- structural issues such as power relations
- legitimacy measured in terms of public support
- level of education
- and affiliations or collaborations
Certain issues or factors have driven defiance in Kenya. Such issues include
- Resource distribution (land, water, factors of production)
- Political power – who rules and legitimacy of rule
- Culture – traditions vs. “modernity”
- Nationhood – conflict due to affinity to tribe over state (nation vs. state)
- People participation – the question of marginalization in Kenya
- Foreign invasion – intrusion by outsiders
These issues have persisted through history leading to the following hypotheses
- The issues informing defiance in Kenya are universal and can never be conclusively tackled
- The methods used in tackling the issues have been inappropriate
- The activists or those engaged in defiance have been driven by selfish short terms
- Defiance in Kenya has not been pegged on long term holistic efforts but rather is characterized by reactionism
- Defiance has been informed by pursuit of narrow interests hence leading to the defiance of the apologists who are interested in other narrow interests pursued by the state
1. Volunteer activism: - Volunteer on your own or with interested groups to assist disadvantaged and underprivileged people, and threatened species and habitats
2. Grassroots activism: Found or join community, student or other groups and then engage in “tabling,” where you set up a table at some social event and hand out literature and talk about your cause. The objective of grassroots activism is to increase the publicity of, and most importantly the support for, your cause.
3. Letter writing and petitions: - Send letters and petitions to the heads of the organizations, which are the target of your activism, and to your elected representatives in Congress, the heads of appropriate government departments and agencies, and the White House.
4. Direct lobbying: - Lobby local government officials, doing this reveals the real power of a democracy.
5. Litigation: This is a straightforward tactic, albeit one, that is usually used only when other methods fail. With the assistance of sympathetic attorneys, and legal-aid groups, law is enforced on the institutions.
6. Consumer boycotts: For a company that is engaged in unethical activities, organize a boycott of its products and services. It is the strongest tactics that activists have, and it is risk free, since none can force you to buy their products.
7. Selective purchasing ordinances: Through some organization that has great purchasing power, such as your university or municipality work to enact a law that forbids the organization from doing business with any company, or companies, to which the activists are opposed
8. Ethical investing: In a manner akin to selective purchasing ordinances, if you are part of an organization that has an investment portfolio, such as a pension plan or university endowment, try to get investment guidelines implemented that forbid the purchase of the stocks and bonds of unethical companies.
9. Economic sanctions: - There are different types of sanctions, including the prohibition of investment in such nations, both of new investment and retroactive bans.
10. Demonstrate: This is the core expression of activism, where you protest against companies and other organizations that are engaged in unethical activities. Demos include marches, strikes, sit-ins, sleep-ins, teach-ins, and e.tc.
11. Civil disobedience, “monkey wrenching,” and other “direct action”: For the more hard-core, the more committed, among you. This is where activists directly intervene in a situation and attempt to halt destruction on the spot.
12. Agitate: Coming out to inform the people you visit (cultures) that are being exploited, the activist encourage them to defend themselves.
13. Make a career of your activism: Seek employment in an activist or volunteer group. Focusing in an area that still needs a lot of work, hence promising growth and opportunity in the future, is in the international coordination of activism, to offset international institutional collusion.