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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2008, 18:02 GMT
Kenyan women urged to wear sacks
Two Kenyan women explain why they have taken to wearing sacks as their own personal protest and why they want others to join them in doing so.


Philo Ikonya
Philo wants Kenyans to be able to sit down and face each other
I have felt the need to get to the bare minimum in order to pass a message.

The sack in itself has a biblical message.

I think we Kenyans need to repent for certain things, especially our leaders.

First, the biggest sin we are committing is that we are unable to face each other and speak when little children are dying, other people are dying and there is a lot of violence - 600 people, even one person is not a mean figure. I feel that as women, and as leaders, we need to mourn for our nation.

We also need to ask for justice.

I want to be able to walk through the park if I wish but yesterday they [police] would not let me walk with some of my friends. We are not allowed to walk around and just discuss things.

Philo Ikonya and her friend, Vicky Mbeca wearing their sacks
The ladies hope to convince many others to wear sacks in protest too

And I said this is it.

I need to express myself through what I am wearing, and to pass on that message, the sack cloth is very powerful.

I shall continue dressing like this and urging other people to dress like this for as long as we do not have peace in Kenya; as long as we do not have justice and reform.

Because if it had been agreed - so many years have we debated the constitution - so, let's reform it.

Let's take a few powers away from the presidency. We can all rest easy if we have an independent judiciary.


I think it is more powerful [than marching through the streets of Nairobi protesting].

Kenyan Vicky Mbeca (friend of Philo and Agnes) holding a protest sign
Agnes wants Kenyans to stop overlooking tribalism

It is humbling ourselves in front of the eyes of God and the people.

We have lived a pretentious life in this country, we have overlooked very serious issues of tribalism over a long period of time, hypocrisy, prejudices and pride - we have overlooked the issue of unemployment; we have overlooked the issue of poverty.

A lot of people are young and so the battles going on today are in very, many dimensions and yet the nation is suffering; we are all suffering alike.

I am looking at this nation as one nation - by wearing what I am wearing, I have humbled myself, and am humbling myself in front of God.

I want God to forgive us.

I want people to sit down and talk together, for leaders to sit down, to make dialogue and put matters right.

I believe that Kenyans are one thing - that Raila [Odinga] can cry for a Kikuyu who is dead and Kibaki can cry for a Luo who is dead and I want them to be able to sit together.

I am prepared to continue dressing like this for as long as our nation is restless.

I will continue to wear my sack as a sign of mourning for my nation and as a sign to tell others to please sit down, think what is wrong, accept the reality and reconstruct our country together.

I will continue talking to other people, I'll be going from office to office, from door to door and asking others to share with me in this state of mourning for our nation.

Have you ever started your own personal protest? Was it successful?

Your comments:

I've started an initiative called Young Kenyans for Legitimate Democracy to create a forum for Kenyans in the Diaspora, particularly young Kenyans, to brain storm on how we can contribute to alleviating the difficulties in our country as well as to preventing such scenarios from playing out again. Its taking off really slowly, I guess because for the most part people want something done as opposed to getting off their backsides and doing something themselves but I believe in Kenya and I believe in Kenyans and I know that we can do this.
Nanjala Nyabola, Birmingham UK

I am so impressed by the courage of these woman to speak out about the situation in Kenya. For years, the nation has been hailed as a prototype of what other African nations should be. This exemplary status was given because of its industrial and technological development, and its ability to pull foreign investments. Basically, economic boom. While Kenya's economic improvement is commendable, it has overshadowed needed improvements in other aspects. Tribalism is a huge problem in all parts of Africa...and Kenya is not different. And I believe we (as Africans) must fix this problem. There is nothing Americans, Obama, or Europe can do to fix this. This is something we must decide not to haunt us anymore. Colonialism is over when we decide it. We need to think of our young (I am a 21 year old Nigerian), and we need to re-evaluate the legacy we want for our children. Good luck to the women and may God be with Kenya. May Peace invade Africa, for once!
Wunmi, Berlin, United States

1)I don't buy milk from Brookside Dairy factory - its for Kenyatta's family.
2)I don't board city hoppa commuter matatus - the company is owned by Juja MP who is a friend of Kibaki.
3)I have closed my savings account with Equity bank - It is owned by Kibaki and his allies.
4)I have stopped drinking beer from KBL - It is majorly owned by the government.

This has been very successful as I have managed to convince so so so many people who were dissatisfied with the result of the general election to follow suit.
Pam, Nairobi, Kenya

It's great to learn that these women as powerless as they may seem from the Kenyan society perspective, have empowered themselves to act on issues that many would shrug off saying what can one person do. I hope and pray many will follow suite and spread the positive message. It is true that its the ordinary people that are suffering in all this. The politicians are not dying, they are not starving, there children are well protected. Its time that the electorate realise that by being violent and killing your own brother and sisters you are doing the bidding of the politicians and that its your neighbour that you killing. Please lets go back to those old values that we had and love our brothers and sisters and work towards building our nations and our beautiful continent. I literally cry every time I read the news. Why can't we stop this greed. Why can't there be compassion and understanding amongst our communities.
Mwedzi, Sheffield, UK

Dear Philo and Agnes, we are humbled here in Stuttgart by your great courage, I agree totally to what the Lord God has revealed to you. we need to be mourning now for our Nation, until the repentance reaches the heart of God, so that He can touch our leaders to give them new hearts for righteousness to prevail in our Nation. We will be praying for you and for Kenya from here in Stuttgart.
Thomas, Stuttgart

"Big people thinks of big thinks and little people thinks of little things" - you have a big point lady, keep it up!


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