The reunion that I wasn’t sure was every going to happen, happened – and it literally happened overnight.
In a matter of hours after saying aloud, “I need to go back to Kenya. It’s time. I’m ready,” a dear friend called me and said, “I have a proposition for you.” Moments later I was packing my bags to deliver something for someone in, where else, but Nairobi, Kenya. This was it. I’m reunion 10 years in the making. But this time it wasn’t to find peace efforts, no. This time, I knew exactly where to go.
Backing up a bit, the past few weeks have been nothing short of intense. “A Chance for Peace” is about the peace efforts that arose following the post-election violence of 2007 in Kenya – violence that displaced 600,000 people and killed a reported 2,000 Kenyans. So when threats were rising in the lead-up to a new election, A Chance for Peace went into grassroots high-gear! I took what little money I had and together with my friends at Hope for Kibera in Kibera Slum, Nairobi, we started hosting peace events in which we screened A Chance for Peace to promote peace to any Kenyans in Kibera threatening to be violent. The result: around 750 people saw the film, engaged in a dialogue, and committed to peace no matter what. During the A Chance for Peace events in Kibera, I got reports of long-standing rival gang members holding hands, discussing their fears and frustrations, children of all ages seeing their fellow Kenyan people on screen as heroes of peace, people moved to tears. And when they left the screening, having committed to peace, they went home and told their families and friends about the message of A Chance for Peace, about their commitment to non-violence and brotherhood, and men, women, and children – including members of the 3 leading gangs, the Siafu, the Mungiki, and even the much-feared Taliban – made sure that the election was peaceful.
So when I said, “It’s time to go back,” it was 100% time to go back! If nothing else, to thank these brave and resilient Kenyans for seeing that peace is the only answer.
So thank you. Thank you to everyone I met in Kibera for showing me – a person that’d been working largely in isolation by himself from a computer in Los Angeles – that what we are doing MEANS something and that peace isn’t just something we are talking about, making posts about, or making a film about – it’s something that is living, breathing, and thriving in the largest slum in the world and in the hearts and minds of the Kenyan people. Resilient, strong, powerful, and compassionate – you are all an inspiration and I can’t wait to see what we will create together next.