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Kenya’s Graffiti Train is on a Peaceful Journey

Art, in all its forms, has long been a primary tool for building community and helping to bridge social divides. Graffiti has often been chief among these common denominators, and now it’s once again being used to help foster peace in Kenya. In response to the East African nation’s currently tumultuous climate, Kibera Walls for Peace and Kibera Hamlets,  has gathered graffiti artists from different ethnic groups to come together to promote unity, and peace in society.

With permission from the Rift Valley Railway, this art initiative is an extension of Kibera Walls for Peace and Kibera Hamlets’ ongoing actions to help quell gang violence and general strife. The rolling art project has added significance given how trains where targeted for violence during the nation’s violence-tainted 2007 and 2008 elections. Along with the artwork, there’s a message scrolling down the train’s surface, which translates to “leave tribalism, leave discrimination – let’s live in peace.”

Conspiracy theorists will “know” Kenya as President Obama’s birthplace, while most folks may only be familiar with upheaval, blood diamonds and abandoned baby elephants. With the efforts of this diverse grouping of writers, more people may soon come to see the country in a new light, moving forward.

NPR has more on the project, including accounts from local artists Bankslave, and Swift9. Read here, download the audio here, or listen up top.

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