This moment has been 10 years in the making. Last Friday, A Chance for Peace came back to Kenya for our very first public screening of A Chance for Peace in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya, right where the story began in 2008.
So, why now? Well, Kenya is on the verge of another election and tensions are rising again. People are growing increasingly angry and disenchanted with their government, falling along tribal and party lines – and people are scared.
So here I am, listening to this news 9,700 miles away, having just finished a documentary that proves even when democracy fails, peace is possible; a film that doesn’t just show that humankind is capable of creating peace, but that Kenyans are – even the most tragic circumstances. It was clear: it was time for A Chance for Peace to come home.
So I called my friend Collins Wasonga. He and his family, including Allan Brandley Wasonga, were the first people I met in Kenya during production of the film. They live in Kibera, the largest slum in the world with an estimated 1 million+ people. It became the epicenter of the violence in 2007 and will surely become the epicenter of new violence should uprisings begin again. So who better to help me bring ACFP home than the peacemakers that helped me tell the story in the first place?
So with the help of Facebook, Collins and I mobilized his friends and family and his youth group AGAPE – Hope for Kibera to create a public event. The event came on the heels of the announcement of new gangs of youth saying publicly that they are planning to create violence to show the government they wont stand to be disenfranchised any longer. Collins and I both knew the time to act was NOW.
“…they got to see the tragedies of the past and the grassroots peace efforts they never heard of. The hope was that they’d begin building bridges to peace now, before history repeats.”
So we ran the numbers and for just $180 I was able to fund the event, which included performances by Hope for Kibera youth, a speaker and PA system, security, and projector, and local photographer Bernard Puyo stepped in to take some awesome pictures. That night I went to sleep with butterflies in my stomach, nervous about how the event would turn out. Would people even show up? Could A Chance for Peace live up to its name?
It was imperative to me that A Chance for Peace be screened in an open public space, for free. This way anyone walking by had the opportunity to see their own history presented to them as a mirror, but not the story on the news of violence and terror. Here, they got to see the tragedies of the past and the grassroots peace efforts they never heard of. The hope was that they’d begin building bridges to peace now, before history repeats.
At 2am Sunday night, Collins messaged me to tell me the event was a success! Their response to the event was clear: we must maintain peace, because without peace, there can be no progress.
And the best news of all? Collins said by the end of the event, every single person that attended committed to being an agent of change and an advocate for peace. Even those who had previously publicly stated they would be violent!
The power of film. The power of our stories. The power of coming together – it knows no bounds. We can find strength in our stories. We can find A Chance for Peace. I’m truly humbled and in awe. Thank you all so much for your years of unwavering support.
This is just the beginning.