AMANI SASA DAILY UPDATE: 11th February 2008

AMANI SASA DAILY UPDATE: 11th February 2008[1]

                                                                                                                                                                                

THE HUMAN COST: Over 1000 dead and over 350, 000 displaced

Upcoming Activities

·         The first edition of the Amani Sasa Weekly e-newsletter is out. Get your copy now for a profile on one of the members, updates on upcoming activities this week and an inspirational feature! Check your email or go to www.peaceinkenya.net for your copy of this easy to read and informative newsletter.

·         We want to get to know you! We are requesting that all those who have been attending CCP meetings to please fill in an information card with details about yourself, the organization that you represent (if any) and what skills or peace activities you are involved in. This will assist in preparation of a database that will make it easier for people to link up and identify people to partner with when organizing events.

·         You may also fill out a suggestion card if you have any suggestions on things you would like to see implemented by CCP.

·         Valentines Day. There are a number of activities organized for this day of love. Please get involved in any one of the activities planned for this day. So far, the activities include:

CASAM- Come and See a Man would like to partner with other organisations and volunteers in the valentines peace march at Gatundu on the 14th February 2008. CASAM would like to appeal for flowers and logistical assistance towards this event. Kindly contact Joyce Kariuki on 0723-111083 and Benjamin Wagudi on 0721-281693.

One stop Youth initiative in conjunction with the concerned youth for peace will visit the Mathare Chief’s camp on the 14th of February 2008 at 9 am. The CYP has agreed to supply 1,000 roses, which will be distributed to the IDP’s at the camp. All are welcome to attend the event.

·         The Jaza Lorry 2 Initiative is launching the One Love Kenya CD on the 15th of February at the Grand Regency hotel from 7pm. This is a 19 song CD that features over 80 leading Kenyan artistes. The organizers hope to raise at least Kshs 5 million towards resettlement of IDP’s through the sale of the CDs, which will be available at both Nakumatts and Uchumis. Entrance to the dinner is kshs 2500 (dinner and CD inclusive) or corporate tables of Kshs 100,000 inclusive of 100 CDs and ten seats for dinner. Only 350 available seats so please book early RSVP flora on 0721721371 or call Kevin Ombajo on 0721526887

 

TODAY’S MEETINGS

08.00 The  Peace Makers Update, Caana Room, Serena Hotel,                             OPEN

11.00 PEACENET offices, Maalim Juma road Opp Royal media, Hurlingham       OPEN

 

IN THE NEWS-DAILY NATION

·         Beginning today, two proposals, which are before the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation team, shall be discussed. One calls for a strong ODM opposition in parliament and the other favours the president-prime minister type of Government as contained in the Bomas draft Constitution. Koffi Annan has cautioned against speculation until the final deal is out.

·         Special Programmes Minister, Dr. Naomi Shaban has proposed the establishment of a special kitty where Kenyans can make contributions of at least 100 shillings towards assisting displaced persons, This together with funds received from the international community would greatly supplement Government budgetary allocations.

·         The United Nation Humanitarian Coordinator, John Holmes on Saturday said the UN HIGH Commissioner for Human rights has dispatched a team on the ground to probe human rights violations and prepare a report.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

A little subtleness is better than force.

Congolese Proverb from African Wisdom on War and Peace, a compilation by Annetta Miller.

 

INSPIRATIONAL FEATURE

Today’s feature is titled: Is The Media Partly To Blame For Post-Election Violence? Written by RASNA WARAH[2]

According to Strategic Research, a company contracted by the UN Development Programme to monitor media coverage in the run-up to the 27 December elections, inflammatory statements and songs broadcast on radio stations are partly to blame for the ethnically-based violence that occurred in many parts of the country after the December 27 election results were announced. Caesar Handa, the chief executive of Strategic Research, told the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that prior to the elections, the use of “hate speech” was prevalent in some sections of the media, particularly the vernacular radio stations, and was also widespread at party rallies. Handa confirmed what the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights had stated as early as October last year, when it released a report entitled Still Behaving Badly, which cited the various derogatory comments politicians were making about other ethnic groups during political rallies. The consequences, as we have seen, were devastating. As one KNCHR official put it: “People treat it as a big joke. They don’t know that such stereotypes eventually get fixated in people’s minds when they begin to kill people. When we begin to dehumanise other Kenyans and depict them as animals, it’s easy to take a machete and hack them to death.” The power of the written and spoken word cannot and should not be underestimated. In the weeks leading to the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Kigali’s Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines began inciting people to slaughter their Tutsi and moderate Hutu neighbours. When the mass slaughter of nearly a million people ended, this radio and television station was named as one of the biggest culprits. In cities such as Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat in India, politicians have been blamed for instigating the riots that engulfed the city in 2002. The violence, which led to the killing and displacement of the city’s Muslim minority, was partly attributed to inflammatory statements issued by leaders of the right-wing Hindu fundamentalist party that controls the state. Some analysts have suggested that the real cause of the riots was rising frustration among the city’s mostly Hindu unemployed who blamed the visibly prosperous Muslims in the city for their poverty. Unfortunately, it is not just the poor and the illiterate that buy into the propaganda of hate. In the last few weeks, I have had the unpleasant experience of exchanging emails with a group of eminent Kenyan academics in the diaspora who confirmed my fear that the language of hate can and does cross social and economic lines. The email discussion was sparked by a column I wrote two weeks ago that asserted that what was happening in Kenya was not the result of ethnic chauvinism, but the result of political and economic exclusion. Some members of the group disagreed with me and one of them even had the audacity to refer to members of a particular ethnic group of having “defective DNA”. The discussion got so convoluted that in the end, I dropped out of the discussion because I concluded that these Kenyans living abroad were so out of touch with the reality of present-day Kenya, that any exchange with them was futile and a waste of time. My fear now is that their thinking is going to be transmitted to some poor undergraduate in America or Europe who is going to accept their arguments without question. What is even scarier is that members of this group are often called to present papers at international conferences and write papers for prestigious journals. No wonder foreign correspondents end up portraying Africa as a savage continent. It is not surprising, therefore, that the international media was quick to portray Kenya as a country that was in the throes of a Rwanda-like genocide and described the postelection violence as orchestrated ethnic cleansing or tribal warfare in which two ethnic groups in the country were fighting to secure the presidential seat for their respective tribal chiefs. Hate mongers use ethnicity as a convenient tool to ensure their own political survival. As the U.K-based academics Tim Allen and Jean Seaton have noted, “the power of ethnicity comes from an acceptance by enough people that particular social divisions are natural and inevitable.” Hence, when violence starts, both the victims and the protagonists end up giving ethnic explanations for their behaviour, rather than examining the social, economic and political causes of the violence. When the media joins politicians in promoting ethnic chauvinism and exclusion, the mix can be deadly. From now on, political parties must be forced to censure party members who whip up ethnic hatred and the Media Council must be empowered to penalise media houses that publish or air hate speech. This will go a long way in ensuring that the violence we witnessed this month will not be repeated in 2012.

 


[1] This daily update is a service to all working for peace. It records the various independent initiatives currently underway to restore peace, assist the displaced and promote truth and justice. It does suggest that these actions are being centrally coordinated.

[2] Ms. Warah is an editor with the UN. The views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.

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