Al Jazeera Close Up

How Kenya’s protesters faced death to hold their leaders to account

When Kenya’s Gen Z came out onto the streets of Nairobi, they hoped the government would listen. Instead, police responded with tear gas, water cannon and live ammunition, resulting in the deaths of 39 demonstrators.

The initial outrage was sparked by a piece of legislation known as the Finance Bill 2024, that sought to raise taxes on several basic goods. But when many Kenyans say daily life is already unaffordable, the perception was that an out-of-touch government was making young and poor people shoulder the burden of the country’s debt crisis. A perception made worse, according to protesters, by years of financial mismanagement and government spending that seems to only benefit those in power.

Close Up follows activist Boniface Mwangi, as bullets ring out among the protesters as the ferocity of the police crackdown becomes clear. Mwangi tells us his nickname online is the ‘People’s Watchman’ because he strives to get justice for those whose plight would otherwise go ignored. Now, he’s pushing for accountability for the families of victims gunned down while demanding dignity.

This is the story of how Kenya’s youth took on their government and won, but at an immense human cost.


Director: Tierney Bonini

Senior Producer: Tierney Bonini

Local Producer: George Kihara

Writer: Antonia Perello

Cinematographer: Joe Mwihia

Editor: Antonia Perello

Sound Mixer: Yago Cordero Domenech

Senior Editor: Donald Cameron