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Yvonne Owuor. Image from BBC.

Reports reaching us have it that Kenyan novelist Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, author of Dust, was attacked and arrested in Nairobi by the Nairobi County Inspectorate, infamously known as the “kanjo.”

According to Twitter user @zinduko, Ms. Owuor was standing outside Lavington Mall in Nairobi when the “kanjo” descended on local traders nearby. She didn’t run in the ensuing commotion as she didn’t know what was happening. The report says that when she began to ask what was happening, a man in plain clothes pushed her and became aggressive, and was joined by more men in plain clothes. Thinking she was being robbed by a gang, she fought back but was dragged off to their van at which point she realised it was the “kanjo.” Ms. Owuor was taken to City Hall and charged with “trading, dumping, assault, obstructing justice.” She has since been released on bail but will appear in the Magistrate’s Court at City Hall on Monday, 6 August, at 8 a.m.

In Nairobi, the “kanjo”—who are in charge of traffic, security, dealing with hawkers and street families—are reportedly infamous for their violence. Earlier this year, the Nairobi County Assembly demanded a reform of the group.

See the tweets by @zinduko below:

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Members of Kenya’s intellectual communities are calling for solidarity with Yvonne Owuor. We hope that “this be used to amplify the brutality of the ‘kanjo’ system,” Zinduko told us on Twitter. “We would be very grateful for solidarity statements. Solidarity not just with Yvonne Owuor, but with all others who suffer from the brutal inhumanity with which the County officials operate.”

“It is disturbing and infuriating,” a Twitter user told us. “Yvonne is such a lovely lovely person. Maybe this will also shed light on the injustices visited on random people who get caught in such situations.”

Brittle Paper stands with Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor and calls for solidarity. The attention given this will put pressure on the “kanjo” system and aid calls for its reform.

See further reactions on Twitter.

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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