Image via

Image via

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men – Abraham Lincoln.

Protests are used to express objections, by words or actions to events, policies and situations. To some, protesting is seen as a form of art and can take many forms. Protest art itself is a broad term that refers to creative works that concern or are produced by activists and social movements. Like all forms of art, everyone has their interpretations to what it may mean or see it as a waste of canvas.

Various reactions have been observed about the “occupy parliament” protest held on the 14th of May by activists in Nairobi. The protest was held to draw attention to the attempts by Members of Parliament to raise their salary and their attempts to arm twist the Salaries and Remunerations Commission into doing so. Most of the attention however has shifted from the reasons for the protest to the use of pigs as a representation of the MPs.

The term MPigs used by the activists and some Kenyans is drawn from the animal farm, as told by Boniface Mwangi, and is used as a symbolic term to associate the Members of Parliament with the nature of pigs. To some, especially the MPs it is seen as offensive whereas the activists think it’s a reflection of their characteristics.

Being that the protest was legal, as by law, the protestors were charged in court for animal cruelty and the use of the pigs also raised an outcry from some section of animal activists despite it being said that no pigs were hurt during the protest.

The question is raised then on where to draw the line in the use of symbolism in protests. Previously, protestors have used effigies for example as a symbolic representation to various persons but rarely do one come across the use of live animals. Would it have raised any difference if the protestors had used effigies to represent the Members of Parliament or have is been used to drive attention away from what the protest represented.