Siasa Place Kenya

Social Activism in the 21st Century – By Billy Osogo

Simply defined, social activism is an intentional action with the goal of bringing about social change. Ergo, anyone who is fighting for change in society is an activist. From Malala Yousafzai fighting for education for girls in Pakistan; to Boniface Mwangi fighting for constitutionalism in Kenya; to Greta Thunberg fighting for immediate climate change mitigation.

In the digital era where the number of smartphone users worldwide is on the rise social activism has become a force to reckon with. Anyone armed with a smartphone can galvanize action by other citizens from anywhere in the world. Events in individual societies are increasingly capturing the attention of the world at lightning speed. The oceans and seas separating them notwithstanding.

#FreePalestine is the most recent illustration of social activism in the twenty-first century. The senseless killings of innocent children in Gaza have taken the world by storm.

The United Nations Secretary-General, in his remarks to Security Council, described the ongoing conflict as “utterly appalling”. He further said:

“The hostilities have already caused unconscionable death, immense suffering and damage to vital infrastructure. I am appalled by the increasingly large numbers of Palestinian civilian casualties, including many women and children, from Israeli strikes in Gaza.  I also deplore Israeli fatalities from rockets launched from Gaza.”

Massive demonstrations have been held all across the globe demanding justice for Palestine. Protestors gathered in cities including Doha, Stuttgart, New York, Cape Town, and Paris. In Nairobi, Christians and Muslims alike staged protests in solidarity with Palestine.

With social media playing a more prominent role in access to information, political causes cut across the traditional silos of streets and sovereign boundaries. As Israel escalated its relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip, the players of the beautiful game made their position known in the ongoing conflict. Football superstar Paul Pogba and his Manchester United teammate Amad Diallo held up a Palestinian flag following Manchester United’s final home game of the season.


Elsewhere, Leicester City players Hamza Choudhury and Wesley Fofana showed support for Palestinians after winning the FA Cup final. In a video making rounds on social media, the two were seen holding the Palestinian flag.

This is not the first time the world is rallying behind the cessation of gross human rights violations and injustice. In the 1980s, anti-Apartheid protests across the world brought attention to the diabolical human rights violations manifested in the apartheid government. Although limited, President Regan would impose economic sanctions on the apartheid government following pressure from various lobby groups. The apartheid government would eventually fall and Mandela would take his rightful place as the first black President of South Africa.

In 2020, following the gruesome killing of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter protests were held across the world. 331 days later, Derek Chauvin, the office responsible, was found guilty by the Hennepin County Courthouse.

The United Nations Security Council must not wait for an Israel-Palestine version of the Sharpeville Massacre to act. Too many lives have been lost already.

In the immortal words of Dr. King:

On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy.”

The writer is an active and concerned citizen.

Facebook: Billy Osogo

Twitter: @a_b_osogo