WHO WE ARE
In 2007, Kenyans were readying themselves for change. A presidential election brought two candidates together. One, Raila Odinga – known by his supporters as “The Peoples’ President” – the other, Mwai Kibaki, the incumbent president running for re-election. An Obamaesque surge of political energy radiated throughout the country. People from the furthest reaches of the country were walking miles just to cast their ballots. And then, disaster struck.
On December 29th, 2007, just days after Kibaki had shut down all telecommunication outlets and in cooperation with the Kenyan Electoral Commission, illegally announced he had won the election. Ballots were unaccounted for, Raila was ahead in the polls, and suddenly it’s “Kibaki Wins!”
Almost simultaneously, the slums of Nairobi erupt in violence. It was later revealed that months prior to election day, Kibaki had been training and arming riot police. As more information poured in, it was also reported that Kibaki paid off the Munkiki, the biggest gang in Kibera slum – at the time the largest slum in East Africa with over 1 millions dwellers – to incite violence. This violence would later be characterized by the media as “post-election violence” and “tribal warfare”.
But A Chance for Peace’s director Tyler Batson, knew they had it wrong. Having gone to Kenya in the summer of 2007 as an education volunteer, Tyler had the unusual and eye-opening opportunity to campaign with his host father, Emmanuel Leina, who just so happened to be running for Member of Parliament. During the post-election violence Tyler had been in touch with Emmanuel. Facebook messages were hastily delivered to report on his safety. “Left home. Can’t talk. Bullets flying over my head.” Meanwhile, international news outlets were flying reporters in for 2 minute segments simply saying, “tribal warfare ravaging Kenya”, delivering the most gruesome details, and leaving it at that, reinforcing the stereotype of Africa as “the dark continent”. The segments were followed by 5-person, 9-minute panel discussion on Britney Spears’ mental health.
This became Tyler’s impetus for action. The goal: create a video to give voice to the voiceless. The outcome: a feature documentary film, 7 years in the making called A Chance for Peace.
A Chance for Peace is more than a film, it’s a purpose.
We want to start the conversation on peace. Do we really know what peace is? What does it look like? What does it take? From the very beginning, A Chance for Peace has been about exposing the truth about peace-building in Kenyan and giving voice to the voiceless unsung heroes making strides in their own communities.
The sensationalizing of the African experience has gone on too long. Yes, there is war, there is hunger, there is disease, but these words are used to represent people – and it’s the people that deserve our attention and who deserve to be heard. Numbers and statistics are not people, and what A Chance for Peace aims to do is to humanize the Kenyan experience.
Ultimately, we want to connect people with these projects. The film itself came about because director Tyler Batson volunteered in Kenya, gaining first-hand experience and inspiration, which became central to his personal growth – and he wants to pay it forward.
Sister Freda, Emmanuel, and the Wasonga family are all doing what they can with what they have, but with a little help they can do so much more. Their ongoing projects are on their shoulders alone. Let’s make sure that when they are no longer with us, their heroism lives on.
SISTER FREDA ROBINSON
The embodiment of love and selflessness, Sister Freda has committed her life to helping those in need, no matter the cost. After giving up her position as a nurse at…
ALLAN WASONGA & FAMILY
Allan introduces us to his family’s youth group, Hope for Kibera. Along with his siblings, Allan is bringing youth from warring tribes together and promoting peace…
Of the 1 million dwellers of the Kibera slum in Nairobi, artist Solo 7’s name is the first one sees. His iconic “messages of peace” mark walls and businesses – and even…
A remarkable man, Emmanuel works tirelessly to improve the quality and accessibility of education to children in Transmara District. From the ground up…
THE PLOT THICKENS…
Director Tyler Batson’s journey behind-the-scenes
1. AN UNEXPECTED OPPORTUNITY
Tyler applies to be a volunteer with Seattle’s Village Volunteers. He tells the founder she should decide where he goes and she does: Kenya! After a month in Kenya, Tyler meets his new host father, Emmanuel Leina, who happens to be campaigning for Member of Parliament of Maasailand. Would he like to join him on the campaign trail? Absolutely!
2. VIOLENCE ERUPTS
Tyler returns home to the U.S., eagerly awaiting the outcome of the election, only to find out Emmanuel has been attacked and driven from his home. The U.S. media seems more interested in celebrity gossip than those dying and displaced in Kenya. Tyler finds the media treatment of the post-election violence deplorable. Someone has to tell their story.
3. ACFP IS BORN
Infuriated over the unforgivably discriminatory news coverage, Tyler – an art student with no prior experience – dedicates himself to “giving voice to the voiceless”, determined to tell the story of strength and resilience of his kind Kenyan friends. He sells his car, raises $10,000, and set off to Kenya 8 months after the violence.
4. HOME, SWEET, HOME
After shooting in Kenya for 30 straight days, Tyler returns home broke, with no car, and emotionally and physically drained. After filming in IDP camps and slums, he’s just grateful to have a home to return to. He kisses the ground when he gets home to his apartment. The plan: finish school, graduate, and edit 60 hours of footage to tell the story of ACFP.
5. LIFE IMITATES LIFE
Back home for only two weeks, Tyler wakes up to what he thinks is an earthquake. In fact, his apartment building is ablaze. Fire consumes the building and he loses everything, rescuing the ACFP footage. Later it’s reported that the fire was an arson. Tyler is homeless and displaced, just like those Kenyan’s he profiled weeks prior.
6. A HELPING HAND
After wandering the globe without a place to call home for close to 3 years, Tyler returns to L.A. to edit ACFP. Without the proper software, computer, or editing experience he must hire an editor. No one is interested. That is until a chance encounter in a Lyft with a passenger who happens to be an editor: ACFP’s very own Yassin Koptan joins the team.