Kenyan comedian Eric Omondi, along with 16 other content producers, were charged with participating in an unlawful assembly outside Parliament in Nairobi on Wednesday. The charges were made after they held a sit-in on the road and attempted to rush into Parliament on Tuesday to protest against the high cost of living in Kenya.
The group had pressed for a meeting with Speaker of the National Assembly Moses Wetang’ula to discuss the growing cost of living in Kenya. The 17 protested their innocence and asked to be released on “reasonable” monetary bail of no more than Sh5,000 or personal bonds on Wednesday before Milimani Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina.
Their lawyer, Danstan Omari, argued that they were content producers working to pressure the government to lower the cost of living. He said that the protesters were advocating for policies to address the nation’s present high cost of living, which has left six million Kenyans on the edge of hunger.
The protesters were accused of participating in an unlawful assembly, but their lawyer argued that they were exercising their constitutional rights to picket and express their opinions. The court granted their release on a Sh10,000 cash bail or a Sh20,000 bond each.
Eric Omondi, a well-known comedian, had led the protest on Tuesday, and the group was carrying signs that read “Stima Juu, Unga Juu, Mafuta Juu, Taxi Juu,” criticizing the difficult economic conditions. The police personnel guarding the structure detained him and used tear gas to scatter the crowd that had obstructed traffic.Omondi has a history of demonstrating in front of the legislature to demand that local music receive 75% of the radio. He has been praised for bringing attention to the problem of artists in Kenya. On February 21, he and his fellow demonstrators took to the streets to protest the high cost of living.
The protest happened a week after Omondi expressed his opinions on Kenya’s economic plight in an Instagram video. He urged Kenyans to break free from the chains of slavery in politics, the economy, and indoctrination. The staged protest comes amid a national day of prayer to ask for rain as drought continues to affect areas of the country, and as members of parliament continue to discuss the high cost of living.