Kenya: Memorial Gig Attracts Hundreds After Deadly Protests


People react during a concert organised in memory of dozens of demonstrators killed during tax hike protests, in Nairobi, Kenya, July 7, 2024.

Kenyans in their hundreds, on Sunday, gathered in the capital, Nairobi, for a memorial concert following deadly protests over tax hikes that saw the country’s leader scrap a controversial finance bill.

The initially peaceful rallies mostly led by Gen-Z spiraled into violence that left 39 people dead, rights groups have said, and saw President William Ruto reject the bill containing the hikes and promise spending cuts.

On Sunday people streamed into Nairobi’s central Uhuru Park from around midday to listen to performers and commemorate those who had died.

Victor Waithaka, 29, said he was attending to pay tribute to the “heroes who died during the protests on the rejected finance bill”.

Said he: “This is our country, and we have the right to fight for our rights”.

Large crowds shouted, “Ruto must go”, echoing demands made by protesters in previous weeks, and waved Kenyan flags as they danced to a medley of songs delivered by singer and performers.

Stated Hanifa Adan, prominent demonstrator, on the concert’s sidelines: “The fight has just begun, the political awakening [is] just the beginning”.

Early Sunday morning some roads in the city were blocked by police officers.

The concert fell on so-called “Saba Saba” (Seven Seven) — the seventh day of the seventh month, marking the moment in 1990 that the opposition rose up to demand the return of multi-party democracy — and a day when demonstrations had previously taken place.

It follows Ruto’s decision Friday to announce budget cuts and increased borrowing, to cover the projected shortfall from scrapping the finance bill.

Following his speech, the president also took part in a sometimes-fiery exchange of views on social media platform X, in a wide-ranging conversation with younger Kenyans on social media.

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