From Wren—I’ve been posting a lot of death on HCD these days. Our pet goats, some activist friends. It’s surreal to read about the death of former Monkees singer Davy Jones. The Monkees were a part of my subversive childhood, and my early awareness of the struggle of principled people trying to operate in our crazy corporate world. But on my same planet, in my lifetime, other courageous people are facing stakes I can’t imagine. The post below is from Indymedia, reporting on the assassination of a journalist and organizer in Nairobi. He was known to us through Indymedia. The story doesn’t detail the convoluted politics that put him in the crosshairs. I can’t do that story justice here, but I want to honor Stephen Nyash today. When I think about the loss of my home and my goats, and ask myself if I’m sacrificing too much to Occupy and culture change, I have to remember that there are sacrifices we in America haven’t been asked to make…yet.
So even as the economic divide widens and radicalizes the people dropping off the edges of safety and security , Congress passes laws to imprison us without habeas corpus. Now they’ve passed a law that makes protesting illegal. Before these moves, I was hearing of the Guantanamo style concentration camps being prepared. C.T. and I have a friend who is an African activist. He was shot for trying to organize students in his country. Now an activist and filmmaker in the US, he is not completely free of the fear of assassination. We Americans like to go about our days as if that kind of thing doesn’t happen here. But it does.—WT
Kenya Indymedia has reported that on Tuesday, February 21, radio journalist and organizer Stephen Nyash was shot dead in the Korogocho ghetto of Nairobi, where he had lived and worked for most of his life. Korogocho is the third largest slum in the world . At writing, the motive for his murder is not clear.
Nyash was one of the founders of KOCH FM , a close partner of Kenya Indymedia. He was also a leader in “Koch Hope” and “Ghetto Films,” which worked to empower the slumdwellers of Korogocho. He brought this wealth of experience to the fourth IMC-Africa Convergence in Senegal last March as a representative of Kenya Indymedia. He was also integral in organizing a “Conference of People” held in Korogocho to coincide with the Conference of Parties (COP-17) gathering on climate change. Fellow organizer John Bwakali writes, “From the moment that he knew about Kenya Indymedia, Nyash became not just an active participant but fellow leader of the movement… Upon return [from Senegal], he immersed himself into the vision and work of Kenya Indymedia.” Read John’s Full Reflection HERE  and his audio interview with Nyash  on the fight against State injustices.
To our knowledge, Nyash is the third Indymedia worker to be killed. On June 29th, 2004, 23-year old Lenin Cali Najera of Indymedia Guayaquil in Ecuador was assassinated by agents of the Ecuadorian government [5, 6]. On October 27, 2006 Bradley Roland Will of New York City Indymedia was assassinated by paramilitary forces of the Mexican government while documenting the on-going struggle of the people of Oaxaca. [7, 8]
Nyash will be buried on 3 March 2012. He is survived by his wife, three year old daughter, ten year old son and mother. Kenya Indymedia is accepting donations for burial expenses and the family’s needs, and plans to set up a fund to continue his work toward justice for the oppressed particularly in the slums; peace at the community level and economic empowerment and protection of young people. For the short term, donations can be sent via paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More on KOCH FM From Deep Dish/Waves of Change :
Who we are?
Koch Fm is the first ghetto community radio in Kenya. It was started in 2006 by a group of 10 youths in Korogocho slums. Our motto is: Edutainment – Educating through entertainment!
The radio is situated in Korogocho slums which is the third largest slum after Kibera and Mathare.
The radio was started in order to provides a platform for Korogocho people to address their issues through information sharing, education and communication to promote social, political and economic well-being of its listeners. The radio’s aim is to give a voice to the voice-less by mobilizing, lobbying and advocating for human rights issues using different radio programmes. Koch FM highlights issues like gender empowerment, HIV and aids, insecurities, poor governance, poor sanitation, children’s rights and youth & talent.
A tribute to Stephen Nyash by John Bwakali, Kenya Indymedia, as published on ciranda.net :
NYASH’S LIFELONG COMMITMENT TO A BETTER LIFE FOR SLUM DWELLERS
Nyash almost always had a big smile pasted on his face.
But lurking behind this smile was a deep passion for the less fortunate people and against the injustices that they suffer. The injustices of the State both locally and globally together with the many injustice of poverty.
Earlier this month of February, I had lunch with Nyash in Korogocho ghetto, where he spent most of his life. We had agreed to meet at Othaya, a popular nyama choma (roast meat) restaurant in Korogocho.
I arrived a bit earlier than him and when he arrived, he was spotting his trademark smile. He apologized for being late, noting that he had been concluding several meetings. I understood, because I knew that Nyash was either leading or deeply involved in many initiatives towards making life better for the people of Korogocho.
Within moments of his arrival, Nyash began assisting the waiter to serve the people who were flocking into the restaurant. He moved from table to table, chopping steaming meat and washing the hands of the people. He wasn’t doing this because he worked there but because he noticed that the sole waiter at the place was swamped with work.
As he was serving the people next to my table, he flashed that big smile at me and said cheerily, ‘sisi ni watumishi wa community – we are servants of the community.’
These five words best describe how Nyash lived and died – serving the community that he loved. Serving the people of Korogocho slums to put food on their table, seal leaking roofs, take their children to school, fight crime, make better roads, leave peaceably, find decent livelihoods and speak out.
Nyash did all this through Koch FM, the community radio station that he co-founded and chaired; Koch Hope, another organization which he co-founded that provides bathroom, conference and recreational services to the people of Korogocho; Ghetto Films, an organization that informs and empower slum dwellers through film and Kenya Indymedia, a movement that provides a platform for community activists to find unity and clarity in their common voice for the people.
From the moment that he knew about Kenya Indymedia, Nyash became not just an active participant but fellow leader of the movement. Together with three other activists, he represented Kenya Indymedia in Senegal during the Indymedia collective that was held there. Upon return, he immersed himself into the vision and work of Kenya Indymedia.
In our last ‘Conference of People’ event, Nyash played a pivotal role by mobilizing local activists and stakeholders. He also ensured the venue was available and later on organized lunch for the organizers.
I last talked with him on Saturday 18th of this month. Because I was then in Lamu Island, we agreed to meet on Wednesday 22nd so that we could prepare a strategy outline for Kenya Indymedia’s work for 2012.
Sadly on the morning of this day that we were to meet, I received text message from Roba, a Kenya Indymedia member and renowned activist musician. The text read simply that, ‘we have lost Nyash, bonge la maandamano Koch.’ We have lost Nyash and people all over Korogocho are demonstrating.
Nyash had been gunned down a few hours earlier outside his house in Korogocho. He was shot in the chest and stomach and didn’t make it to hospital. It is still not clear who committed this brutal and evil act. What is clear is that although they took away his life, they can never take away his legacy.
I will now leave you with his own words, ‘sisi ni watumishi wa community – we are servants of the community.’
The best tribute we can pay to our friend, comrade and brother Nyash is to ensure that his service remains alive and active by continuing to serve the people of Korogocho slums and those in our own societies who are less fortunate.
NB: Kenya Indymedia will meet and consult widely on how both the local and international community of activists can best pay tribute to Nyash by contributing to a concrete project that will help his family and the people of Korogocho.
1 – Indymedia Radio Activist Shot in Kenya
2 – KOCH-FM Facebook Page
3 – A tribute to Stephen Nyash by John Bwakali, Kenya Indymedia
4 – audio interview with Nyash on the fight against State injustices
5 – Ecuador IMC activist assassinated
6 – Carta a Lenin Cali
7 – NYC Indymedia Journalist Brad Will Shot Dead by Government Forces in Oaxaca
8 – The New York City Independent Media Center responds to the death of Brad WILL