This week I want to nominate Omtatah Okoiti as my Kumekucha Man-of-the-Week.
On Thursday January 17 2008, playwright, civil society and human rights activist Omtatah brought activities at Vigilance House (Kenya Police Headquarters) along Harambee Avenue to a standstill after he chained himself to the gates of police headquarters in what he called the "protest of justice" to end the merciless killings of innocent people by security agents.
Specifically, Omtatah was protesting the widely condemned TV footage that captured a police officer shooting two unarmed civilians in Kisumu. During his "protest of justice", Omtatah yelled: "Action and inaction of a police officer on duty are not supposed to be motivated by any other interest other than public interest. This was not the case in the Kisumu murder". By this time a large crowd had gathered to cheer him on. Omtatah was armed with his national ID card, a statement to the police commissioner and a catholic rosary that he held in the air as he protested the loss of innocent lives at the hands of Kenya Police. It took 5 police officers about two hours to unchain him and another 50 paramilitary GSU officers to frog-march him to the KICC police station.
In August 2007, Omtatah was among a group civil rights activists calling themselves the "Yellow Movement" who were arrested and later released by the high court after marching to Parliament to protest against a move by MPs of the 9th parliament to increase their own allowances and pay themselves a hefty gratuity. During the incident, the arrested activists were injured in a road accident involving the police car that was ferrying them to various police stations and a matatu.
The latest protest took place on the 2nd day of ODM mass action protest and when the Nairobi CBD was a no-go zone because of running battles between security forces and ODM supporters. Yesterday Omtatah was released on a bond of Kshs. 10,000/- after pleading not guilty to a (trumped-up) charge of "causing public disturbance." He had spent the night at the Central Police Station in Nairobi.
This country certainly needs more Omtatahs. Kudos bro.