Profile: Boniface Mwangi
Boniface Mwangi is a Change Maker and Leader who has spent his life fighting for justice for the ordinary mwananchi (citizen). His drive for change started in his early years where he decided to fight head-on what life had thrown at him.
Born in Taita Taveta and raised in Starehe, Boniface has had struggles in life like most Kenyans. The struggle for survival took him away from school and pushed him to engage in odd jobs including hawking books and waiting tables to get food for the day.
His mother Wakiuru sacrificed their house rent to buy Boniface his first camera at the age of 14. This was the start of pursuing his passion. He captured a few photos when he was young, including the Nairobi Bomb Blast that happened on August 7th 1998. In 2004, he joined the East Africa School of Journalism. While studying there, he did internship for Kenya’s largest newspaper, the Standard, and was later employed there in 2005 upon graduation.
It is at The Standard where he found his voice. Armed with his camera and pen, he covered many stories as a journalist including injustices that happened around the country. He covered stories where people’s rights were taken from them including harassment and beatings by police, protests, and killings of the innocent. His photos and written articles showed the plight of ordinary Kenyans in their struggle for justice.
Boniface has since covered injustices including police executions, hawkers’ evictions, Mungiki crackdown and the 2007/8 Post Election Violence that rocked Kenya. After the 2007/8 Post Election Violence, he realized that showing and publishing photos of the violence was not enough. Together with his friends and fellow journalists, Boniface led a project dubbed “PichaMtaani” an exhibition to foster dialogue of reconciliation and healing. Over 50 exhibitions were conducted around the country attracting over 2 million people.
The conversations drove his passion to set up Pawa254, a creative space where creatives, journalists and community organizers could use art to achieve social change. The space offers trainings to thousands of youth every year. The youth get insight to how the world works and are linked to opportunities by individuals and organizations that believe that their skills coupled with collaboration can effect change within communities and contribute to the country’s economy.
Since starting his journey as an activist, Boniface has engaged in street artivism, protests and awareness projects to demand the rights of Kenyans to justice, a good quality of life, to jobs and to good governance be restored. The issues that he has raised include: exorbitant salary increases by parliamentarians, land grabbing of public lands, mismanagement of Community Development Funds (CDF), and demand by elected leaders for extra security and medical covers that leads to mismanagement of the country’s wealth.