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Springfield Filmmaker Spreads Hope, Peace in His Native Country of Kenya

Patrick Mureithi, the Artist-in-Residence at Drury University, grew up in Nairobi and recently traveled back to share his film "Kenya: Until Hope is Found"
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Patrick Mureithi, documentary filmmaker, has created "Icyizere: Hope" and "Kenya: Until Hope is Found." (Photo credit of Mureithi's website: www.josiahfilms.com)

This is Around the World, Here at Home. I’m Jennifer Davidson. Today, we’re traveling east along the Equator, until we run into the land that boasts snow-capped mountains, savannahs where wild animals freely roam, and a  major metropolitan area that serves as a hub for a large economic region: the Republic of Kenya.  I’m joined by a documentary filmmaker who’s originally from Kenya, and who lives in Springfield. Patrick Mureithi is the Artist-in-Residence at Drury University, and he joins me in the KSMU studio.

“I had the opportunity to study abroad,” Mureithi said.  “Initially, I planned on getting my degree and going back. But I met my wife, fell in love, and started a family.”

So, he graduated and started working here.   He came at 19 years old, and has been in the US since.  He says now, he feels like the Ozarks hills are as much a part of him as Nairobi, Kenya.

In 2007, Mureithi traveled to Rwanda because he had heard about post-genocide reconciliation workshops there.

“When I heard about these workshops, I thought, ‘I would like to make a contribution. I would like to make a documentary about these workshops.'  If they were so powerful, as people were telling me they were, then I could make a documentary about it and share it in Rwanda as widely as possible. And hopefully, it would touch people who were dealing with trauma, even a decade and a half after the Rwandan genocide,” Mureithi said.

So, he did. “Izyizere: Hope” was the result. He showed it all throughout Rwanda, and brought both perpetrators and victims of genocide to tears by demonstrating the incredible power of forgiveneness.

His home country of Kenya was soon engulfed in political violence, too, following the contested elections of 2007. Human rights groups said it was on the brink of genocide.

“Yet, no one was proposing any concrete ways of bringing reconciliation about, and here I had just made this documentary that showed the process of this workshop. And everyone who watched this documentary said, ‘This is about Rwanda. But this is so much about Kenya as well.’  They saw so many similarities between what led to the genocide in 1994 in Rwanda, and what led to Kenya’s 2007 and 2008 post-election violence,” Mureithi said.

So that inspired him, he says, to make a documentary that spoke specifically to Kenya’s situation. He began researching and fundraising, and “Kenya: Until Hope is Found” was born.

Patrick Mureithi is the Artist of Residence at Drury University in Springfield.  You can see his latest documentary on YouTube by searching for Kenya: Until Hope is Found, and you can see the techniques he shared with Kenyans who had been traumatized by political violence by clicking here.  This has been Around the World, Here at Home on KSMU. I’m Jennifer Davidson.