John Allan Namu, Boniface Mwangi scoop '2022 Human Rights Defenders Awards'

for Tv47 Digital December 04, 2022, 01:26 AM
2022 Human Rights Defenders Awards
Winners of 2022 Human Rights Defenders Awards. From left to right: John Allan Namu, Billy Hani, Lisa Gem and Boniface Mwangi. PHOTO/HRD Award KE

In Summary

  • The winners of the 2022 Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Awards will receive a cash reward of 1,000 U.S Dollars, a plaque with HRD's name on it. Winners will also be guests at the HRD Awards ceremony in 2023.
  • HRD Awards ceremony brought together community-based HRDs, eminent persons, members of the public and development partners who believe that persons that take extra effort to challenge injustices and defend human rights deserve recognition.
  • These individuals are resilient against ridicule, intimidation and even threats to their lives to realise the universal goal of human rights for everyone.

The 7th edition of the Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Awards gala was not your normal human rights activists' event.

Held on Friday, December 2 at the Swedish Ambassador's residence in Nairobi, the gala brought together human rights defenders from all walks of life.

The star-studded invites-only event kicked off at 2pm with the arrival of guests. Thereafter, a key note speech from the host, Ambassador Caroline Vicini, and Kamau Ngugi, the Executive Director of the Defenders Coalition, who also doubles up as the chairperson of East and Horn of Africa HRD Network.

The eight-member selection panel - which included former Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga - was then introduced and their chairperson, Rachael Mwikali, also delivering a speech to a buoyant group of guests.

The last edition's winners of the HRD Awards also gave their testimonies about their activities as they fight towards ensuring that Kenya attains a democratic human rights and social justice state and society.

Afterwards, it culminated in the main agenda of the day, to recognise and celebrate the work of courageous Kenyans who are committed to defending and promoting the universalism of human rights.

Winners of #HRDAwardKE2022

Boniface Mwangi

Boniface Mwangi, arguably one of the most vocal and courageous Kenyans of his generation, bagged the Popular Vote Award.

Mwangi started as a photo-journalist but the 2008 Post-Election Violence was his turning point after experiencing first-hand the brutality that disadvantaged Kenyans experienced. This is when he switched to activism and established 'Picha Mtaani', a travelling photography agency meant to not only document but also call out the violence.

Often seen as a rubble-rouser, Mwangi has severally being arrested for championing justice for Kenyans while calling out corrupt politicians.

But this is not the first time Mwangi is being recognised for his advocating for the respect of human rights. Nine years ago, he won the winner of prestigious Prince Claus award.

Boniface Mwangi (left) won the Popular Vote Award at this year's edition of the Human Rights Defenders Awards.

Grace Kalekye

The brave Grace Kalekye Mwangangi won the Upcoming Human Rights Defender of the Year Award. In 2018, she was trafficked to India and forced into sex work, an ordeal that pushed her to become an anti-human trafficking advocate.

A journalist-cum-musician working as an intern at Free the Slaves, Kalekye has been using radio, TV and social media paltforms to share her story just to create the awareness of human trafficking.

She hopes that one day she will have a huge platform where survivors will tell their stories and connect victims to their families.

Grace Kalekye (holding a bouquet of flowers) bagged the Upcoming Human Rights Defender of the Year Award. She hopes to work with the government agencies, NGOs, and religious leaders to advocate for strict anti-human trafficking policies and frameworks, to end the vice completely.

Billy Hani

Billy Hani is also another recipient of the Upcoming Human Rights Defender of the Year Award. A queer artist and activist based in Kenya, Billy uses writing and photography to explore African queerness, sexuality, gender identity and expression, bodies and mental health.

Billy co-curates HeART Out Kenya, an art therapy initiative for feminists, LGBTQ+ folks and activities.

In 2018, Billy started activism through education on LGBTQ+ issues on social media. Over the past five years, they have advocated for LGBTQ+ rights online and physically in different local and national spaces.

They have written extensively on the issues that Sexual and Gender Minorities face and continue to document similar stories through writing and photography.

Billy Hani (pictured) believes that education and accurate information are necessary to realise LGBTQ+ human rights. They write for FemInStyle Magazine.

Lisa Gem

Lisa Gem was the third recipient of Upcoming Human Rights Defenders of the Year Award alongside Grace Kalekye and Billy Hani.

10-year-old Lisa Gem, a Grade 4 pupil from M.M Shah Primary School in Kisumu receives her award after she won the Upcoming Human Rights Defender of the Year Award.

Prof. Micere Mugo

Prof. Micere Mugo - the renown playwright, author, activist, instructor and poet - was also recognised as the Lifetime Achievement Award winner at the colourful gala, albeit in absentia.

She uses her works to as a platform to promote social justice and human rights not just in Kenya but also Africa at large.

In 1982 after the attempted coup, Micere and her family were forced to flee Kenya as she was among those targeted by government. Her citizenship was also stripped off.

After finding refuge in Zimbabwe, the brave Prof. Micere found a teaching job and continued with her work of literary criticism, African Orature and Human Rights. In this piece, she highlights the culture of Ndia community in Kirinyaga County, in relation to politics.

Ndungi Githuku receiving Prof. Micere Mugo's award on her behalf. Prof. Micere won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Human Rights Defenders Awards 2022.

John Allan Namu

Finally but not least, the overall winner of the Human Rights Defender of the Year was investigative journalist John Allan Namu.

Namu was feted for spending most of his 17-year journalism career focusing on social justice issues.

He has covered so many pieces touching on Kenya's security agencies using excessive force, extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances. One such work is 'Justice be our shield', a documentary profiling the planning and execution of a murder plot against human rights lawyer and investigator Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and their taxi driver Joseph Muiruri.

As a co-founder of Africa Uncensored - an organisation formed in 2015, Namu has promoted honest, incisive and hard-hitting journalism that bring positive impact in the society both locally and continentally.

He has won several other local and international awards with his work.

Investigative journalist John Allan Namu receives the Human Rights Defender of the Year award and a 1,000 US dollar ceremonial cheque from Sweden Ambassador to Kenya Caroline Vicini.

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