Was Deep Sea the engaging setting?

Over the past few days Amnesty’s press phones have been hot. Calls for interviews and comment about the release of Aung San Suu Kyi came thick and fast on Friday and Saturday.   The release of the Chandlers sparked a few calls for us on Sunday.  Then on Monday and yesterday early morning, we were busy responding to the compensation payout to Guantanamo detainees.  Then at about 10.30am yesterday – our phones suddenly went very quiet.

It would seem that journalists don’t consider Amnesty to be a relevant commentator on the story which is dominating the papers’ front pages (excluding the Independent!) and blanketing the coverage of news channels.  

Well I beg to differ, we’re bursting to comment on The Royal Engagement! But since no one has, as yet, come to us for our view, we’ll offer it now.

In the official interview about The Royal Engagement, William mentioned on several occasions that his proposal was particularly romantic as he dropped the knee (one presumes!) to offer Queenship to Kate in Kenya.  However – aside from his levels of romance – details of the proposal are pretty sketchy.  It’s not clear where exactly he proposed in Kenya. After all, Kenya’s a large place. 

I suppose most of us would think of a safari game reserve, or one of Kenya’s beautiful beaches as being the most likely setting for Will to pull out the sapphire and diamond ring from his backpack.  Less likely a setting perhaps is the slums of Kibera, or the Deep Sea informal ‘settlement’.

These settlements are less likely to spring to mind because they are the parts of Kenya which the Kenyan authorities desperately try to ignore and obscure. But they are also parts of the country which have some of the most vibrant, d1etermined and courageous communities in the land. Men, women and children who live in cramped conditions, where clean drinking water is scarce, education for children is a struggle and the threat of being forced from their homes is an everyday threat – a threat which for some has become a horrid reality.

Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans face the bitter reality of having little time to gather their possession as they are given a few hours to leave their homes in these informal settlements so the authorities can demolish their homes.  The process of forced evictions is a brutal and common reality not only in Kenya but in several countries in Nigeria.

On Saturday hundreds of Amnesty activists took part in a candlelight vigil to call for a stop to forced evictions in Kenya.  Drums were beaten, candles were lit and voices were raised in Shoreditch, East London,  as hundreds stood in solidarity with the thousands of people who face this threat of forced evictions in Kenya.

The Githogoro community was the focus on Saturday. There people have already had their homes demolished but there are several other villages and settlements where the threat of eviction looms. The Deep Sea Village is one of those communities and they feature in Amnesty International’s Greetings Card Campaign this year. 

Somehow I doubt that Wills and Kate visited the Deep Sea village – or any informal settlement on that particular trip, but if the happy couple have some time in between planning their table setting (although the Times seems to have solved that problem for them with their own version) or colour palette, then they could send a greetings card to express their solidarity to the residents of the Deep Sea this year.  I’m sure they would appreciate being part of the Royal experience.   For more information visit www.amnesty.org.uk/gcc

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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