Commemoration and Human Rights in Africa: Revisiting the Politics of Memory Through Visual Arts in Kenya

  • Josephat M. Kilonzo
Part of the Arts, Research, Innovation and Society book series (ARIS)


When societies experience widespread patterns of injustice, exploitation and gross human rights violations, normative international human rights standards require accountability and generally the establishment of measures to address them. By and large, societies subjected to the scourge of blatant human rights violations, repression and widespread patterns of injustice, have to find ways to mourn the dead, remember the painful past, preserve the memory and work towards reconstruction. Some of the measures established to address the past include truth commissions, reparations, memorials and reconstruction of institutions. However, these measures have their own limitations in terms of time, money and dependence on political will of the individuals in power. To counter the limitations of these mechanisms, visual arts may be employed as their unofficial counterpart. Visual arts create a platform for victims of gross human rights violations to voice their views and concerns. This chapter seeks to shed light on the complexity of memory, highlight state of amnesia and denial of gross human rights by the Kenyan government and to discuss ways that visual art be a means to commemorate and liberate memory and promote respect for human rights.


Commemoration Visual art Memory Remembrance Amnesia Forgetting Reconciliation Human rights Kenya 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Josephat M. Kilonzo
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Law, Centre for Human RightsUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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