Kenya: Wahu Kaara

African women are not dying for Africa anymore, they want to live for Africa.

— Wahu Kaara

Wahu Kaara, a 53-year-old widow, describes herself as a global social justice activist. The former history and Kiswahili teacher says she has been radical from an early age, having been involved in promoting social justice and economic democracy for 30 years. Her political activities define her radical nature. Despite the repression from the government and the hard times she experienced when her husband was forced into exile, the mother of four relentlessly worked locally and is today involved internationally in the African Social Forum and the Kenya Debt Relief Network.

“I never wanted my students to be stereotypes,” the passionate Wahu says. “Every human being is important and has a role in life.” Her role in life was defined by politics. She learnt about communism, the ideals of justice and equity during her university studies in the 1970s. The political consciousness she gained in those days has been her greatest strength. Wahu began work as a teacher and later as a principal in a rural school. After she had had her daughter and three sons, she began to pay attention to government repression through political community theatre. In 1986, her husband was forced into political exile and went to neighboring Tanzania. He left her behind with their four children, all below the age of ten. She sustained her family only through great sacrifice. In the 1990s the democratization process began in Kenya and Wahu became actively involved in founding organizations. Her first experience in mobilizing people was at the Freedom Corner, in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, where political activists joined mothers of political prisoners in demanding for the release of their detained sons. She says political consciousness, especially for women, is critical in the fight for human rights and economic justice. “Women are responsible for sustaining life but often their ideas are not accepted in decision making.” Wahu laments that this is the universal situation for women. Courageous and outspoken, she is familiar with the ideas of economists such as George Soros and is today involved in the Kendren. This has given Wahu an international platform. She is also active in the African Social Forum whose ideas she has taken down to the grass roots. Wahu confidently says, “African women are not dying for Africa anymore, they want to live for Africa.”

Kenya Debt Relief Network (Kendren) African Social Forum Kenya Social Forum