How about pickets without policemen bearing teargas?

A police officer walks through a smoke of teargas during demonstrations in Nairobi on March 30, 2023. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

I picketed once in my lifetime. I was a graduate student outside this country and I was warned against picketing out of fear I could be an easy target for deportation.

But because I come from a tradition of struggle-not the cosmetic type that's cynically invoked by politicians these days-I said I'd risk it all and stake a claim in the protest. The bone of contention: student stipends had remained unchanged for 20 years, despite rising cost of living. Sounds familiar...?

We signed up an attendance register as a peaceful sit-in at the Dean's office could only accommodate a certain number of people. We were to keep our classes running and only picket in our free time. So, we did not take stones to the protest; only books and laptops.

Even more surprisingly, faculty members joined in the protest. They freely gave Press interviews to explain their support for the students' protest. The protest received enormous coverage, with one large newspaper raising this dispute to national attention.

Within two and a half days, the protest was over, after a deal had been reached between student representatives and the university administration. The police did not appear anywhere near the protest area because our assembly was both lawful and peaceful. Interior Security minister, a law scholar of some standing, claims our protests can be neither peaceful nor lawful. I will not ask where the good prof went to school, but he should consider not inviting police to those protests. He will confirm if protesters are violent on their own.

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