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Coming of Age
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Coming of Age

This film takes us on a journey through the three ages of democracy in Kenya, as seen through the eyes of a girl growing up there. From the youthful optimism of the post-independence Kenyatta era, through dictatorship under Daniel arap Moi, to Kenya's third stage of democracy under Mwai Kibaki, this film asks: can free speech and openness ever really come of age? 

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Produced by the Why Democracy? project.

Purchase the DVD from STEPS International.

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Segment 1

TITLE
Why Democracy?
TITLE
Coming of Age
SINGING
One-two, one-two-three, what's the meaning of democracy?
VOICEOVER
I was just a little girl, but I remember those eyes. Eyes that followed me everywhere. Everywhere I went. Jomo Kenyatta was the first President of independent Kenya.
TITLE
Jomo Kenyatta [served as Kenya's Prime Minister and President] 1963-1978.
VOICEOVER
My mother and father said he was the one who saved us from the colonialists.
CHILDREN
C-O-L-O-N-I-A-L-I-S-T-S. Colonialists.
VOICEOVER
Some kids in school said he was bad. I told them they were lying. You don't kill people when you're the father of a nation. Fathers are nice. Fathers don't kill people. Those days the roads were scrubbed down by the city council until they shone. Shone like my school shoes. Shone like the sun. Everything shone. People were happy. A car jack was the thing you used to fix a tire. And if your car got stuck in the mud, people came from everywhere and helped you pull it out.
CHILDREN
I pledge my loyalty to the president and nation of Kenya. My readiness and duty to defend the flag of our republic. My devotion to the words of our national anthem. My life, strength, and service in the task of nation building. In the living spirit embodied in the national motto: Harambee!
VOICEOVER
Then, in 1978, Kenyatta died. Everyone was whispering about losing everything. What would get lost? Who would lose it? Daniel arap Moi seemed nice.
TITLE
Daniel arap Moi, 1978-2002
VOICEOVER
He liked to plant trees. He liked it when choirs sang for him. He smiled when people came and danced for him. Kazi, kazi. Work, work. We honestly believed that we were the most progressive country in Africa.
SOLDIER
Kuja! Kuja! [Come! Come!]
VOICEOVER
Then the coup came. The Air Force held the county's only radio station for one whole day. My big brother thought it was fun and kept shouting: There's been a coop detat! A coop detat! [coup d'état] My mother kept saying, be quiet. Be quiet, she said. Shhh. Be quiet. People say that day, Moi cried so much, his eyes turned red for good. And everything changed. Moi began to rule Kenya with an iron fist.
TITLE
Kenya Newsreel.
VOICEOVER
Today, His Excellency President Daniel arap Moi went to church. Today, His Excellency President Daniel arap Moi told the West ... Opened an agricultural show ... Warned his political opponents ... Today, His Excellency… Today, His Excellency ... Today, His Excellency President Daniel Arap Moi. We were told Moi was our mother and our father. Baba na mama. Others said he was bad, that he killed his opponents. But fathers of nations don't kill people. And, from every wall, in every shop, and every home, of every town and village and city, his eyes watched our every move. This is what it was like to live under a dictator. At night, people drew curtains, sat close, and whispered rumors about rumors in the dark: of disappearances, of secret policemen, of torture chambers hidden deep beneath our feet.
TITLE
Ministry of Information & Communications.
VOICEOVER
The sky suffocated us. The roads fell apart into potholes as big as craters. On the inside, we rebelled. On the outside, we were silent and sullen. Shhh, we said. Shhh, be quiet. Opposition grew, and things began to slip from between Moi's fingers, like control of the airwaves. Those were the early 1990s. I was in my twenties and I liked to party. In Kenya soon the biggest party of all was the multiparty. So dance we did, all the way into what we hoped was a new democracy. Moi was finally ousted from power by a candidate fielded by an alliance of oppositionists. And on December 30th, 2002, in what some people went so far as to call the Second Liberation, Mwai Kibaki was sworn in as president.
TITLE
Mwai Kibaki, 2002-
VOICEOVER
Five years on there are youth funds, women's funds, all kinds of funds. There's free primary school education. There are massive traffic jams. Violent crime and unemployment are also on the rise. You might have more money, but someone could shoot you for it. The economy has grown from 2 to over 6 percent. And still, some people say that Kibaki's bad. That he turns a blind eye to financial scandals and a deaf ear to growing complaints. That he has allowed corruption to grow to endemic proportions. Now everyone's lining up to be the next president, with well over 100 registered political parties. It's all we ever talk about these days. Vote Raila, or is he too fiery? Kibaki's a sure thing but is he too old? Uhuru is young, but what's he about? Come on, support a female candidate. Why, just because she's a woman? Now the big one: which party, which party, which party?
WOMEN
Where we going? / Let's go. / Let's go check out another party. / Another party?
TITLE
December 27, 2007
VOICEOVER
At first the election seemed like any other: peaceful, orderly, and democratic, with more young Kenyans voting than ever before. Despite the economic gains made by Mwai Kibaki's ruling party, Raila Odinga's populist movement struck a chord with the masses. They were leading by over a million votes. Then, unexpectedly, Kibaki's party suddenly caught up.
NEWSREADER
There are allegations of alteration of figures in ...
VOICEOVER
The opposition alleged rigging. The ruling party claimed a fair win. And the country cracked in half. Mwai Kibaki was sworn into power in a hastily arranged ceremony. And Kenya began to burn. Within days over 1,000 people were killed, and 300,000 became refugees in their own country. Machetes rose and fell. Poisoned arrows flew and boulders blocked roads. A united Kenya had become a fragmented one and, with this, the economy ground to a halt. After weeks of uncertainty, a power-sharing deal was eventually reached. But no one is certain. Will it hold? Will it work? There is new talk of yet another general election.
NEWSREADER
Finally the leaders left. Outside they enjoyed a moment ...
VOICEOVER
And the only people with smiles on their faces are the politicians. On election day, 11 million Kenyans queued peacefully to vote. Many now say they will never vote again. What is democracy? Do we even want it anymore?
SINGING
One-two, one-two-three. What's the meaning of democracy?
TITLE
[end credits]