Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs hosts book launch on Disability and Social Justice in Kenya

By Nina Berman

Recently, the Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the United States International University-Africa hosted a launch of a book titled Disability and Social Justice in Kenya: Scholars, Policymakers and Activists in Conversation, co-edited by Nina Berman and Rebecca Monteleone, which brings together a wide range of voices on matters regarding disability in contemporary Kenya.

The event featured a thought-provoking keynote address by Dr. Willy Mutunga, former Chief Justice & President of the Supreme Court, 2011-2016. He stressed a key point made in the book, namely that Kenya has followed the cultural model of disability from the beginning of its disability movement, thus trailblazing an approach that global North scholars have engaged with only since the 1990s. He also stressed the tension between theory and practice in terms of implementing the legal framework and highlighted the need for solidarity in pursuing social justice, in Kenya and globally.

The keynote was followed by comments from three panelists. Dr. Kimani Njogu, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Twaweza Communications, advocated for paying attention to language when it comes to matters of inclusion. He saw the book as a calling for Kenyans to address the issues that are raised in it and stated that the conversation between policy-makers, scholars, and activists is crucial to this process.

Dr. Mbugua wa-Mungai, a disability researcher, author and inclusion advocate stressed the mandate to co-create with persons with disabilities, to have them at the table on every matter from the beginning. He also emphasized that the needs of persons with disabilities vary greatly, even within a certain category of disability, and advocated for customizing approaches to support each individual. This point was reiterated by Ms. Mercy Mugure Gichunge, Board Member of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and an expert on the rights of persons with disabilities. She further highlighted the need for increased political representation of persons with disability, which has in fact gone down on the county level since 2017.

The event was followed by a reception that was sponsored by Disability Innovations Suite, maker of a locally manufactured wheelchair, PEPESI ,which is custom-fitted and designed using a web-based platform which can be viewed at

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