In a powerful display of solidarity, Kenyan creatives and activists recently spearheaded the #EndFemicideKE march, a nationwide movement that saw thousands taking to the streets and social media to combat the alarming surge of femicide and intimate partner violence in the country. The weekend march, spanning 11 counties, including Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and more, witnessed celebrities, activists, and the public brandishing placards, banners, and caps emblazoned with poignant messages advocating for change. The buzz extended to the online realm as influencers and stars with substantial followings passionately endorsed the cause using hashtags like ‘#EndFemicideKE’ and ‘#TotalShutDownKE.’
The catalyst for this mass mobilization was the distressing revelation of at least 14 women falling victim to femicide since the year’s onset. Tragic stories of Starlet Wahu, Grace Wangari, and Rita Waeni, among others reported on Kenyan media have sparked national debates on the safety of women in general. The protest is one of the largest events ever held in Kenya against sexual and gender-based violence and was the brainchild of renowned feminist activist Njeri wa Migwi, who emphasized the dire need to address sexual and gender-based violence comprehensively.
Notable personalities lent their voices to the cause both online and offline.
Rapper Fena Gitu, participating in the Nairobi march at Jevanjee Gardens, expressed gratitude to fellow advocates, putting up her picture and a tweet that revealed her fellows Maandy and Steph the rapper were present: “S/o @steph_unruly for the dope sign 😅 Much love to you and @MaandyKabaya and all the baddies and dudes who came out to support ✊️♥️ My heart is so full.”
Actress Catherine Kamau, aka Kate Actress, emerged as a frontline figure in both realms, commending nationwide participants and urging legislative action: “Mombasa and Kilifi has spoken! Asanteni wenzetu, tumeanza safari na hatuto nyamaza mpaka serikali ijimuishe janga la Femicide kwenye penal code ya Sexual offences Act 2006! TUSIKIMYE ✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾💔. #totalshutdownke #EndFemicideKe.” Comediennes Jacky Vike, popularly known as Awinja, and Mammito took to the streets too, amplifying the message and advocating for an end to femicide.
Male activists demonstrated their support too. Activist Boniface Mwangi was also present, showing up online and offline. In a series of tweets, he made statements supporting women and the safety of everyone in society. At the Jevanjee Gardens march, he carried a placard with the inscription; “Only weak men kill women.”Boniface Mwangi was just one of the many men who joined their sisters on Saturday. Popular activist and psychologist Onyango Otieno, a.k.a RixPoet was part of the march,while
Popular chef Ombachi showing support online with the tweet:”Safety and strength to everyone out there, women deserve to live without fear 👊🏿
However, even in the face of this vital cause, the crowd in Nairobi displayed hostility toward parliamentary representative Esther Muthoni Passaris, accusing her of silence during the recent wave of killings. She later put up a series of tweets defending her role in the protest but netizens would have none of it online.
Activist Njeri wa Migwi at the end of the day thanked those who showed up and recounted the protest organized in Nairobi as successful: “Thank you everyone one of you that showed up for our slain sisters. Thank you Kenyan women for showing up in your thousands & speaking in unison as one clearly Stop killing Women. To the men asante for solidarity. Truly humbled & grateful. “
The event reverberated globally, covered extensively by both local and international media. The success of the #EndFemicideKE march lay not only in its massive turnout but also in its resounding call for accountability and concrete actions to eradicate femicide from Kenyan society