Rev. Dawn Gikandi

Rev. Dawn Gikandi from Presbyterian Church of East Africa


Why did you get involved with Thursdays in Black? 

Rev. Gikandi: Its because, first of all, from Africa, we hear lots of stories of rape and violence—a lot of pain, and even when we are not speaking, a silent campaign goes a long way, and it speaks volumes. Ever since I got involved, more and more people have joined because, the more you dress in black, the more you have the badge, the T-shirt, or a wrist band, someone will ask a question and will start a conversation that will enable you to let them know how important this is.

How has this been personally deeply meaningful to you? 

Rev. Gikandi: I have a group of friends who suffer terribly from forms of violence. In fact, I have one who took three years to overcome the trauma. At the end of those three years, she asked if she could preach in church, so I gave her one of those days I wasnt supposed to preach. What actually shocked me was, after she described her pain and healing, how many people called and said they learned from her and they could relate to her. 

It occurred to me some people dont actually realize the pain they cause other people, so I decided now that the World Council of Churches has given this platform and a way of reaching out, why dont I do it, whether in my country Kenya, or if I travel elsewhere. Its been quite a journey and it has also been one of those things through which you realize there are more ways of service, more ways of reaching out to the wounded, and more people approaching about what they can do. For me, its been part of whats near and dear to me, because of the people around me.

What do you say when someone sees you dressed with your Thursdays in Black, and they ask you, Whats this?”

Rev. Gikandi: One of the things I actually say— depending on how much time we have, of course—is that it starts as something done by individuals, then its done by groups, and its a thing you can do within your daily schedule. It is a way to speak out and to make a statement and to speak into matters of rape and violence, even when voicing this is sometimes not really easy. Even when Ive been to meetings of the World Council of Churches, that in itself speaks volumes for me, because we are telling people what is really important: that people of faith, that our faith helps to improve the lives of people. In this particular case—and especially from Kenya where there are a lot of demonstrations about anything and everything— this is where it affects lives so closely. Its your small way of contributing to something that is greater than youll ever know—something that is amazing!

How do you keep up the momentum for Thursdays in Black? 

Rev. Gikandi: It may not be today or tomorrow, but you and I can come together and enhance the journey and the faith, and add our own contribution, silently or in our discussions. The people I meet, I let them know theres not just pain and violence but that there is healing. Rape and violence have to stop! I have seen that there is so much more that we can do, and every third Thursday of the month a group of volunteers comes together, and they see us in black on Thursdays every time. Even as we go to schools, volunteers will dress in black, and we remind ourselves that we arent going to give up now!

Learn more about Thursdays in Black

Thursdays in Black now has a Youth Edition (WCC news release, 21 December 2023)