The latest film about the George Padmore Institute (GPI) archive collections looks at the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners in Kenya (1975-1998). GPI Trustee Chris Moffat and lawyer and member of the Black Solicitors Network Yvonne Brown talk about the history of the Committee, its impact and the importance of the GPI archive.
The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners in Kenya (CRPPK) was established in 1982 and coordinated by John La Rose in north London. The Committee emerged as a response to evidence of increasingly repressive tendencies in the Kenyan government under President Daniel Arap Moi and those of his predecessor, Jomo Kenyatta. Of particular concern was the arrest of the writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o on 31 December 1977 and his detention in maximum security prison for a year without charge, following the publication of Ngugi’s novel Petals of Blood which criticised the neo-colonial tendencies of postcolonial Kenya. Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, the CRPPK acted as a ‘solidarity organisation’ for those arrested, detained or harassed for their political activities in Kenya.
The CRPPK archive collection at the George Padmore Institute, rich in correspondence and pamphlets, as well as posters, adverts and clippings from the press, documents the history of a truly international movement. It covers campaigners, exiles, prisoners, international bodies and underground organisations from across the world on the issue of repression and tyranny in Kenyan politics.
Yvonne Brown is an experienced Solicitor and Regulatory and Professional Discipline Practitioner. She qualified as a solicitor in 1985 and remained in full-time private practice for over 25 years. Yvonne established her own legal practice in 1994, where she led and managed a modest number of legally qualified and administrative staff. The practice specialised in Child Protection and Education Law. In 2007, Yvonne was invited to be a Family Law expert on the inaugural Times Newspaper Online Panel of Legal Experts. She worked full time in the practice until 2011 when she continued her Consultancy Practice with Legal Management Consulting. Yvonne is a member of the Black Solicitors Network and was invited to join the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners in Kenya (CRPPK) by GPI co-founder John La Rose.
Chris Moffat was born and raised in Canada. He is a writer and historian who lectures at Queen Mary University of London. Chris has published widely on anti-colonial politics in South Asia and is the author of India’s Revolutionary Inheritance: Politics and the Promise of Bhagat Singh (2019). He is now writing on architecture and history in Pakistan. Chris began working with the George Padmore Institute as a volunteer in 2012. His article ‘“Against Cultures of Hiatus”: History and the Archive in the Political Thought of John La Rose’ appears in the journal Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism (March 2018).
Part of the Reaching New Generations project funded by Arts Council England