Koigi wa Wamwere, a political prisoner in Kenya for more than a decade, shares his personal story of survival and the struggle for democracy in Africa in an Amnesty International lecture at Lawrence University.
A visiting scholar at the Institute for Human Rights at Columbia University, wa Wamwere presents “Human Rights, Exile and Liberation” Tuesday, April 22 at 7 p.m. in the Wriston Art Center auditorium on the Lawrence campus. The event is free and open to the public.
While a student at Cornell University in the 1970s, wa Wamwere discovered democracy, freedom of speech and black pride, concepts he took with him when he returned to his native Kenya. In 1979, he won a seat in the parliament, but as an activist and parliament member, wa Wamere was a target of the oppressive Kenyatta and Moi regimes. He eventually was detained on three separate occasions, spending more than 13 years in prison after speaking out against the Kenyatta regime. He escaped execution only through the intervention of the Norwegian government and human rights organizations around the world.
Wa Wamwere, who was re-elected to the Kenyan parliament last December, chronicled his life in his 2002 autobiography “I Refuse to Die.” A second book, “Negative Ethnicity,” which addresses African tribal conflict and genocide, is scheduled for release later this year.