Amani Daily – 14 March 08

AMANI SASA DAILY UPDATE: 14th March 2008[1]

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

Updates and Upcoming Activities[2]

  • A new online initiative, http://www.rescuekenya.org has been established. This site has information on IDP’s, provides a resource to those who are assisting people on the ground and links up various peace initiatives.
    1. All groups working with IDP’s requiring assistance, please check

www.rescuekenya.org/govt_coordination.php for contacts for specific government assistance.

    1. Anyone in contact with persons who lost or suffered direct damage to their businesses in the Post Election violence, get government assessment forms from the nearest Chamber of Commerce offices or download a copy from: www.rescuekenya.org/kncc.php

  • The Leadership Institute of Kenya (LIKA) is still holding their meetings every Wednesday at LIKA offices, on Kirichwa road near Masaba Hospital from 5 – 7 p.m. The meetings discuss the deeper issues affecting our country such as ethnicity, failure of democracy, the youth, money culture and lack of nationhood, as Kenyans seek to go “GO NATIONAL”. In their last meeting, the group decided to get down to action and write books targeting primary and secondary schools based on tribal solidarity and cultural cohesion. The group feels that investing in the youth is of utmost importance. All are invited, for future meetings.
  • The Kenya Veterans for Peace (KVP) continue to hold their workshop at Peace House, Next to Ukwala Supermarket, Haile Selassie Avenue. Sponsored by the Interreligious and International federation for world peace. The workshop seeks to have 200 former security personnel trained. KVP is appealing for counsellors and peace-building facilitators to assist during this workshop, which is ongoing. The first batch of 50, who have just finished the 10-day seminar have their closing ceremony today at 2 p.m. This event will also usher in the next batch of 50 to be trained. The chief guest at the event is the Nairobi P.C. Contact the KVP Secretariat on 0725-203128 or 3588390 if you would like to attend or support this initiative. Guests should be seated by 1.30 p.m.
  • The Universal peace federation in conjunction with the ‘I have a dream foundation’ is organising a 1-day event dubbed Realising the Dream. Martin Luther King the 3rd will be present at the event, which will be held at the KICC on the 18th March 2008 from 830 a.m. The event seeks to have political leaders and other individuals from various groups to discuss the recent post-election violence in Kenya and what various groups can do. All are invited.
  • The Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ) are holding a public forum today from 4p.m to 7 p.m. at the Inter Continental hotel. The Key question under discussion is ‘What does the National Accord and Reconciliation Agreement mean for Kenya?’ speakers at the forum include Muthoni Wanyeki of Kenya Human Rights Commission, Karuti Kanyinga, Institute of Development Studies, and David Ndii of the Kenya Leadership Institute.

TODAY’S MEETINGS

08.30 The Peace Makers Update, All Saints Cathedral Church, MPH room 1 OPEN

QUOTE OF THE DAY

The one who is defeated through truth does not come back

Kenyan proverb from African Wisdom on War and Peace compiled by Annetta Miller

INSPIRATIONAL FEATURE

Today’s inspirational feature is an article that was written in January 2008 focusing on the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is titled ‘we are all in desperate need of soul-searching therapy By Rasna Warah

When Kenyans do a tally of what they lost and what they gained in the last election, they might come to the conclusion that the losses were so huge that they made the gains appear insignificant. I am not talking about the tragic loss of hundreds of human lives during the mayhem in the aftermath of the elections, and the displacement of thousands of others. Nor am I talking of the economic losses brought about the disruption of business activities. I am talking about the loss of something so intangible, yet so valuable, that its absence has been known to destroy entire communities. I am talking about the loss of that asset called trust that holds communities together and prevents them from tearing each other apart.

The December 27 elections not only made us lose faith in the electoral process and in our leaders; they made us lose faith in ourselves. Our lack of faith in the institutions that govern us has made us view each other with suspicion. Overnight, our ethnicity has become the most important part of our identity. While there is nothing wrong with being proud of our ethnic identity and cultural heritage, when ethnicity is used to exclude others, it becomes oppressive. Today it has become quite common for Kenyans of all social classes to blame an entire ethnic group for the ills that have befallen our society or to make racist or tribalistic statements. Some have suggested that this sudden unleashing of ethnic chauvinism is just an outward expression of something we have kept hidden under the carpet for years. “Whether in academia, the church, the media, business, residential neighbourhoods, constitution-making at Bomas and so on, we have all along, in politically correct fashion, pretended not to be operating within tribally-inclined consciousness,” says Mbugua wa Mungai of Kenyatta University. “Yet honest selfexamination reveals intense ethnic battles being fought daily in these sanitised zones.”

The venting of pent-up emotions and prejudices is, unfortunately, affecting the national psyche. Our leaders may be totally unaware of this, but Kenyans are now beginning to barricade themselves in self-destructive ghettos. Mistrust between various ethnic communities is being played out in various arenas – in the boardroom, in the office canteen, even in our neighbourhoods. Deep-seated fears and prejudices are having devastating consequences in the poorest communities, where gang warfare is resurfacing as ethnically driven terror. Last week, an irate reader from Kibera asked me to explain why his favourite busaa den was reduced to ashes yet the one down the road was not. J.M. Mate, whose Yahoo address is ominously named “ghettoaftermath”, says people in slums are now “sleeping with their clothes and shoes on and a rod/panga at their head ready to go not only to stop, but if necessary, to kill the oncoming friend now turned ethnic militia”. We have reached a stage now where we can no longer pretend that economic and political injustices have not occurred in the past, that we are not an ethnically divided nation and that our interactions with each other are not informed by our prejudices.

How did we get to such a place and what is the way out? We got here because our colonial and post-colonial rulers encouraged us to think along ethnic lines. We can only get out of this morass if we stop using ethnicity as a badge of honour that comes with goodies attached, and start seeing it purely for what it is: an accident of biology and geography. As my colleague Godwin Murunga, a historian, put it, “All of us carry the beauty and burden of our identity but few of us make the bold move to transcend these and confront the world with an open mind and heart.” Honest, soul-searching therapy and self-analysis is what this country is desperate for. Without it, there is little hope of rebuilding trust or healing the nation. Perhaps what we need to do during this turbulent period in our country’s history is to set up a much needed non-partisan, non-judgemental truth and reconciliation commission that would allow all ethnicities, marginalised groups and minorities to open their hearts and minds and to air their grievances. People who are now living as refugees in neighbouring countries or who have been violently displaced from their homes (now and in the past) need to be heard, as do the families of those killed or harmed during the recent violence. The commission will allow us to address past injustices in a concrete manner and will allow us to move forward as a nation. We have not yet reached the breaking point, but I do believe that without a critical self-analysis and without such a commission, there is a chance that the damage of the last two weeks will become irreversible and will push the country into a permanent state of paranoia and neurosis.

Rasna Warah is currently an editor with the UN. The views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations. (grasp@nbi.ispkenya.com)


[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.

[2] If you would like to contribute any information please contact Linda Bore at citizenskenya@gmail.com, or on 0711-269482

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