A private screening was held for gang leaders, including members of the Taliban… all of whom committed to peace.
A Chance for Peace started as a response to the media’s misrepresentation of the Kenyan people in a time of great political divisiveness – political divisiveness generated by the politicians themselves. In truth, the subsequent violence of 2007 that ultimately displaced 600,000 innocent people was the product of a small minority of youths, popularly known to have been paid to do so by the political leadership. In 2017, with another heated political battle for the presidency in progress, Kenyans were voluntarily evacuating the cities in anticipation for a repetition of history they felt was out of their control. A Chance for Peace director Tyler Batson caught wind of this from his friend Collins Wasonga in Kibera Slum – Africa’s largest slum and the epicenter of Kenya’s post-election violence ten years piror. A cycle of violence was set to repeat, one that Tyler and Collins were determined to intercept.
Just days before Tyler received a message on Facebook from Collins about the threats of violence in Kibera, he and editor and co-producer Yassin Koptan struggling to find a future for “A Chance for Peace.” The film had been submitted to multiple film festivals with nothing but rejection letters in return. The thought was that this was a film for American and Western audiences, a call to action to think differently about those affected by the industrial war machine. But when Tyler received that Facebook message from Collins, it became clear that A Chance for Peace belonged back in the hands of the people who helped create it. Halting all film festival efforts, Tyler self-funded and fundraised 3 public screenings of A Chance for Peace in Kibera, coordinating accompanying public peace events with Collins entirely via Facebook. The philosophy behind the events was simple: peace must be made public.
Through the events, Kenyans were now able to see their neighbors, not as their enemies, but as heroes in a peace movement right there in their community. The response was phenomenal! When people arrived at the events they were asked if they’d commit to peace in the upcoming election. They answer was unanimous: “If the election is free and fair, we’ll be peaceful.” But after watching the film they were asked again, Will you commit to peace? The answer was bold and simple: yes. Every single person committed to peace. Every single person. But the final event leading up to the election was the boldest yet. A private screening was held for gang leaders, including members of the Taliban. Unsure who might show, we were astounded to host 160 gang leaders – all of whom committed to peace no matter the outcome of the election. The result: zero deaths in Kibera during that time, minimal demonstrations, and a cycle of violence in Kibera was broken. The peace in Kibera was quietly credited to that final gathering of gang members, and the film that started off as “an idea for a video” finally lived up to it’s name.