Kenyans hold concert to remember those killed in protests

People react during a concert in memory of people who were killed during a demonstration against the imposition of tax hikes by the government, in Nairobi, Kenya, July 7, 2024. Image: REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

NAIROBI, Kenya - Hundreds of Kenyans attended a concert in the nation's capital Nairobi on Sunday, chanting slogans and dancing, to commemorate the more than three dozen people killed in recent anti-government protests.

At least 39 people were killed in the demonstrations that started on June 18, as protesters pushed for planned tax hikes to be scrapped 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," activist Boniface Mwangi, who was attending the concert, said.

"So we're also mourning, and we're telling the families of those who lost their loved ones, we're with you, and we shall honour their sacrifice."

At the concert of local artists in Uhuru Park, a vast green space in the centre of Nairobi, youth held placards reading "RIP Comrades" and "We promise we'll keep fighting", while the crowd chanted "Ruto must go." Others hammered crosses into the ground.

As the protests intensified last month, Ruto scrapped the finance bill, which would have introduced a raft of new taxes that Kenyans say would have raised the already high cost of living.

On Friday, Ruto also proposed new austerity measures including reducing the number of his advisers and the dissolution of 47 state corporations to help fill a budget gap caused by the withdrawal of the tax hikes, that were due to raise $2.7 billion.

Sunday's concert was held on Saba Saba Day, July 7, which marks the day in 1990 when similar protests began that eventually forced the government of the late leader Daniel Arap Moi to return the country to multi-party politics.

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