An award-winning war photographer who ran after seeing devastating violence after the elections in Kenya revealed how death threats led his family to flee the country.
Violence broke out in Kenya in December 2007 when former President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the presidential election.
Boniface “Softie” Mwangi, 36, who captured the brutal consequences with his camera, talked about the tribal factionalism that influenced the mass murders.
The father of three was awarded the CNN Africa Photojournalist of the Year Award 2008 and 2010, but put his career on hold to pursue social justice in Kenya, which was unsuccessful in 2017 as a parliamentarian.
In BBC Four’s The Underdog vs The State: The Battle for Kenya, he described how he was threatened with death a few months after other murders in the country and how his wife Njeri and their three children had to seek asylum in the US.
Kenyan war photographer Boniface “Softie” Mwangi, 36, a candidate after seeing devastating violence after the elections in Kenya, revealed how death threats led his family to flee the country. Depicted with woman Njeri campaigning
He explained how he was threatened with death several months after other murders in the country and how his wife Njeri and their three children (all pictured) were to seek asylum in the US.
The company is said to have collected data collected from Facebook users through a third-party app to influence votes in both the United States presidential election and the Brexit referendum, both in 2016.
“I always wanted to defeat war,” said Boniface. “I wanted action, violence. 2007 was a life-changing year for me. Immediately after they announced the elections, there was fire and violence. ‘
He remembered his very first photo, depicting a man who came home from work and was approached at a bus stop by men who asked him what tribe he belonged to, then cut him ‘with machetes’ when he told them.
Boniface said, “He was at a bus stop, and when someone asked him what tribe he was, he said” Luo. ” They cut it with machetes, they just screwed it up.
“He showed his ID [to the police], he said, “I am a Kenyan.” The police just looked at him, they said nothing because of his tribe.
TThe father of three, arrested in Kenya in the photo, put his career on hold to pursue social justice in Kenya, which was unsuccessful in 2017 as a parliamentarian
“Every day I treated violence, I posted my photos, and every day they decided not to publish my photos because they were too violent.”
When the violence and protests ended in February, Boniface quit his job days later, and in 2009 a national tour began with his photos of post-election violence.
Thinking about the crisis, the photographer and activist said: ‘For Kenyans, your tribe betrays you.
“What that means is when I meet you and ask” What’s your name? “. You say my name is Boniface, they say “No, what’s your last name.” They want to know your tribe.
So the identity in Kenyan politics is not nationalism, patriotism, a vision for a larger Kenya. The identity of this country is tribe. Your last name defines you. ‘
Violence broke out in Kenya in December 2007 when former President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the presidential election
In 2013, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, head of state, was charged with five charges of crimes against humanity, allegedly committed in the 2007 elections – but the prosecutor dropped the charges because there was not enough evidence to convict.
In 2014, fifteen months before the 2017 elections, Boniface decided that he would be a candidate for the Starehe constituency of parliament and form the independent Ukweli party.
Boniface announces his campaign and says: ‘Who wants to live in a Kenya where everyone is competent? We may sound like a lonely voice in the wilderness, but we’re here to stay and reclaim our land.
“If someone has previously been accused of being a thief, previously accused of theft, why do you choose him? We as Kenyans need to get up and use common sense. So we are asking for a voting revolution.
During his campaign, Boniface visited the low-income suburb of Ngara, where he grew up, and thought about living in poverty
During his campaign, Boniface visited the low-income suburb of Ngara where he grew up, and thinking about living in poverty, he urged to create a country where “everyone has a good chance of life.”
“It hurts to be poor,” he said. You will be taught to be shy and avoid problems as your default. When you see problems, when you see problems, you run away.
“I was the softest child, I was the smallest child, and they thought I was very weak. That’s why they called me “Softie.” I was born poor, I grew up poor. Single mother with seven children.
‘I want to do better for my country, a country where everyone has a good chance of life. It doesn’t matter if you are poor, no matter what tribe, regardless of gender, that you matter to this country, and this country knows you exist. ‘
Boniface received several threats, meaning his family fled to the US. Pictured, Boniface raising daughter Naila
In May 2016, wealthy and controversial businessman Jacob Juma, who was involved in several high-profile lawsuits against the government, was shot dead when unknown gunmen attacked his car.
He had warned several months ago that there was a plot to kill him for his outspoken views, and months later Boniface received a similar threat
“I launched my book two days ago and during the launch someone gave a letter to my wife,” he said. “She tells me that the letter was a threat to me that something is going to happen to me.
“Besides, the person claims to be part of the team that killed Jacob Juma and the same will happen to Jacob Juma will happen to me.”
After reports of the local news that Boniface feared for his life, the couple received a call from Njeri’s father telling him they were concerned about the safety of him and their daughter.
Shortly after, Njeri and her children fled indefinitely from Kenya to seek asylum from a friend in the US. Depicted Naila and Jabali
Njeri falls into the car on the way home and says, “I’m afraid, my weakness for you and the kids means I have to look over my back, because I don’t know how long.
“I keep feeling that something is terribly wrong, my gut feeling. When I go home I’m scared, I can’t hide, I’m in the car with my kids.
“So I feel like I have to be strong and make this look like it’s not the end of the world, it’s fine. It seems bad, but it will be fine. So I just have to be very strong. ‘
Shortly after, Njeri and her children fled indefinitely from Kenya to seek asylum from a friend in the US.
Before they left, Boniface said to his wife, “I’m not afraid of death, so I don’t mind. I only worry about my family.
“You must have an ideal that you live for, that is worth dying for, I will die for my country, I don’t want to die, but if my death changes a few things.”
Eight days before the election, the head of Kenya’s digital voting system, Chris Msando, was found dead after being “tortured and murdered” on the outskirts of Nairobi.
After 2017 election day, more violent protests broke out in Nairobi after Kenyatta won and opposition leader Raila Odinga said the electoral committees’ IT system had been hacked to manipulate the results.
The documentary also discusses the role of the British data company Cambridge Analytica, who was accused of attempting to “undermine the will of the people” by conducting an online defamation campaign with the government during the election campaign.
Bosses were caught on camera with the control they had exercised in Kenya, and heard one say, “Our job is to find out what those deep-seated fears and underlying concerns are. There’s no point in fighting an election campaign against the facts, it’s all about emotion.
“The Kenyatta campaign we ran, we rebranded the entire company twice, rewrote their manifesto and conducted two rounds of 50,000 surveys. Then we would write all the speeches and step up the whole thing. Almost every part of his campaign. ‘
The Underdog vs The State: The Battle for Kenya – Storyville will air on BBC4 tonight at 10:00 PM