Concert in Kenya Pays Tribute to Victims of Tax Hike Protests

Hundreds of Kenyans gathered in Nairobi for a concert to honor the memory of those killed in the recent anti-government protests sparked by planned tax hikes. The demonstrations, which began on June 18, resulted in at least 39 deaths as protestors demanded the scrapping of the proposed tax increases and the resignation of President William Ruto.

“The government is listening now because of the protests. So we are kind of happy, but there’s also a lot of sadness because so many people died for the government to listen,” said activist Boniface Mwangi, who attended the concert.

A Gathering of Remembrance and Resolve

Held at Uhuru Park, a significant green space in Nairobi, the concert featured local artists and drew a large crowd of young people holding placards with messages like “RIP Comrades” and “We promise we’ll keep fighting.” The crowd also chanted “Ruto must go” and hammered crosses into the ground as a sign of mourning and protest.

Sunday’s event coincided with Saba Saba Day, commemorating the start of similar protests in 1990 that ultimately forced the government of the late Daniel arap Moi to restore multi-party politics in Kenya.

Recent Protests and Government Response

The recent protests have seen police deploying tear gas and water cannons against demonstrators. Kenyan police reported arresting over 270 individuals who they claimed were masquerading as protestors and engaging in criminal activities during the rallies.

In response to the mounting pressure from protestors, President Ruto withdrew the finance bill that would have introduced numerous new taxes, which many Kenyans believed would further raise the already high cost of living. On Friday, Ruto also proposed new austerity measures, including reducing the number of his advisers and dissolving 47 state corporations to address the budget shortfall caused by the withdrawal of the tax hikes, which were expected to raise $2.7 billion.

“I believe these changes will set our country on a trajectory towards economic transformation,” Ruto said.

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