Name and Bio:
Wacu Mureithi, 28, is a mother, law graduate and IT administrator currently. She heard of Hollaback! two years ago while talking to a friend about “a really really bad” experience of street harassment she had. He was the one who urged her to get involved with Hollaback!. and she launched Hollaback! Nairobi in January 2015.
Wacu finds that she has become more outspoken in situations of street harassment since her involvement with Hollaback!, but she is very cautious because “some people…are dangerous”.
Involvement with Campaigns:
Wacu Mureithi took one year of her Masters and received Hollaback! training the first year she got involved, but she thinks that street harassment in Nairobi is quite different than the main Hollaback! NY. [DM1] She is trying to promote Hollaback! in Nairobi, but so far she has mostly talked about it with immediate friends who have promised to get involved but as she says thus far “it’s just talked about”. One told her that she has more important things to do than share her story- “they are basically ignoring it until maybe it becomes a success I am thinking” she says.
For now, she sees Hollaback! Nairobi as primarily having an educational purpose. So far she has run an educational campaign on Facebook and she is waiting for the “African society” to care about it more and start getting involved. As she says she doesn’t “intend to impose” it on anyone.
“So I think it’s mostly educational and for someone who feels like they have been attacked in a way and they want to do something about it, but I think it’s just a place for someone to go to to say something in the event that you are in a situation that you want to say something about.”
She usually works two hours on a Sunday for Hollaback! Nairobi. She likes to watch TV and finish with what she needs to do while multi-tasking, but she also finds that at times it can be overwhelming.
She feels supported by the Hollaback! community as she says “they really keep you going.” Despite the “depressing,” “really sad” and “disturbing” part of reading stories of street harassment and watching videos as well, “there is also the inspiring part and the togetherness that comes with Hollaback!” she says, that makes Hollaback! “something [she] would [not] be willing to throw out […] just because [she is] busy.”
Trolling and strategies:
When asked about her experiences of trolling and online harassment, Wacu hadn’t yet experienced any at the time of our interview, but anticipated it as Hollaback! Nairobi takes off. She thinks that the best strategy for dealing with trolling is to “block it out,” and isn’t opposed to blocking accounts or deleting offensive comments as necessary.
When asked if she considers Hollaback! a feminist movement, Wacu indicated she doesn’t like the label ‘feminism’ as “it’s something that probably wouldn't be welcomed in this society.” This is because “it’s been misunderstood so much” because “it represents different things for different people.” When talking about the movement, she prefers to use the word gender and not tie street harassment to women only.
Analysis: At the time of our interview, Wacu had only just started her local branch of Hollaback! She is a good example though of the ways the movement transcends boundaries, while at the same time noting the ways that common issues often need different approaches depending on cultural context. She was also one of several participants who was juggling her activism alongside family life and work. Like others, Wacu felt that at times the work was emotionally exhausting, but also important, particularly in a place like Nairobi where street harassment was not on the mainstream agenda.