Ways to help keep the peace in Kenya

It is increasingly seeming like my worst fears will be confirmed, and the Annan mediation talks will become a long road to nowhere.

Frustrated as we are, I think it is important for us as Kenyans to keep trying to find ways to wrest the fate of our country from these two power-hungry individuals. You can play your part by doing what you can to support the peace building initiatives and aid effortsthat I have listed below. These efforts are more tangible than signing petitions, wearing bands, etc.

Lets demonstrate that there is a better way to do things and that unlike our leaders, we as Kenyans are ready to do the HARD work necessary to rebuild our country…talk is cheap. I also encourage you to circulate this list widely, especially to people in Kenya who are in position to do something but might not necessarily access my blog…some of these initiatives just need a show of support.

1. Operation Saving Baby Brian

2. Anyone interested in working with youth groups in Nairobi on sports, art, and music – drop me a line: kenyanpundit-at-gmail-dot-com

3. Media Producers are looking for peace stories about people who have shown bravery in looking for peace, these stories will be turned into 5 minute documentaries to be screened at Makutano Junction and elsewhere. If you have stories or can help find partners to air the stories drop me a line.

4. Korogocho has women netball teams and youth football associations that could use visits from groups who want to support their efforts. If you are interested, drop me a line.

5. Youth For Peace and Development: Does training young peace builders and does reconciliation talks in communities. Meetings at the Peacenet Offices in Nairobi every Monday at 11:00 am.

6. One Kenya One Nation: The Kenya Institute of Education is working on developing messages for school children. Meeting to be held on 3rd March 2008. If you are interested in participating, drop me a line (I think they could use help from those in the diaspora with an education/counseling background or resources).

7. Generation Kenya: A project whose mission is to showcase Kenyan achievements and Kenyan lives. Check out their mashujaa page to get inspired. You can submit your stories here.

8. If you are in the Coast, check out Pwani 4 Peace. They have been instrumental in helping keep Mombasa relatively calm where other big towns were on fire. They still need support.

EDIT: Tavia has just left a thought-provoking comment – “I agree that the stalemate is frustrating, but however tempting it will now be to reduce the political crisis to two power-hungry individuals, and to encourage a mass exit from political engagement into charity, development, and peace work, in my view that would only add to our challenges. On this point, I would suggest the excellent commentary of Sam Amadi, the “Kenyan Crisis and the Neo-Liberal Fallacy” available on allafrica.com: http://allafrica.com/stories/200802251378.html . Amadi argues that deemphasizing popular participation in politics, and instead grasping for technical and humanitarian quick fixes, is what prevents us from establishing lasting and workable democratic political structures.” My question then is what avenues do we have for popular participation? I have some thoughts on this train of thought but would love to hear your comments first .

18 comments to Ways to help keep the peace in Kenya

  • I agree that the stalemate is frustrating, but however tempting it will now be to reduce the political crisis to two power-hungry individuals, and to encourage a mass exit from political engagement into charity, development, and peace work, in my view that would only add to our challenges. On this point, I would suggest the excellent commentary of Sam Amadi, the “Kenyan Crisis and the Neo-Liberal Fallacy” available on allafrica.com: http://allafrica.com/stories/200802251378.html . Amadi argues that deemphasizing popular participation in politics, and instead grasping for technical and humanitarian quick fixes, is what prevents us from establishing lasting and workable democratic political structures.

  • momo

    I have never been so angry about these “political thugs” Ory!!
    I feel so helpless and powerless, after working in Somalia and Sudan and after seeing how eaisily Rwanda went to the dogs.

    These “leaders” are so careless that working out a deal is just too damn much to give up for their egos and politcal greed. Kibaki and PNU and ODM should really be blasted out of their bubble. Why dont they work something out? Its embarrasing and humiliating that educated and civic intellectuals ca not come up with workable solution for the good of the population.

    Kenya does not need them – people need to walk away from these political gangstas! when did state house become a Cosa Nostra (Mafia)? Damn am angry :mad:

  • acolyte

    The stagnancy of the talks has me in a state of despair to say the least.
    Thank you for all the useful links, I’m sure we can all give a hand in one way or another.

  • king solomon

    SOLUTION TO KENYA, S PROBLEM
    king Solomon style

    Let’s turn to the Bible for a solution to Kenya crisis.

    • KIBAKI – PRESIDENT 2 AND A HALF YEARS.
    [ELECT MINISTERS BOTH SIDES]
    • RAILA -2 AND A HALF YEARS
    [ELECT MINISTERS BOTH SIDE]

    FOR THE REMAINING PERIOD
    EACH ONE TO RETIRE AT THE END OF 2 AND A HALF YEARS

  • Ishara

    Would someone pls tell me why we, Kenyans, are collectively in denial?

    We all downplayed the possibility of the effort failing, agreed this was because the alternative was unthinkable but in the back of our minds, surely we knew or must have known that there would be consequences resulting from the failure of this process and that none of these could in any way be considered remotely pleasant or desirable

    Most of us, myself included would like an end to this debacle, too and a return to a form of normalcy that does not include ethnic violence, state sanctioned killings, internally displaced Kenyans etc. The question has been and remains today, how do we accomplish this?

    I find nothing novel, justifiable or progressive in “deemphasizing popular participation in politics” and quite frankly, this argument has no place in the 21st century; in Kenya, Africa as a continent or any other place populated by man.

    This seems harsh but my rejection’s based on the fact that this redundant argument encourages acceptance of the status quo, while also consolidating apathy, disengagement, disillusionment and disenfranchisement. In short, our power to seriously affect or influence our governance diminishes to pleas in the name of peace at all costs.

    What amount of pleading by the populace would succeed in changing the belligerent position held by the so called ‘duly elected’ executive or ‘working’ government? Would it matter if we got on our knees? Do you imagine they would listen then?

    (And no, I will not pretend to be ignorant of the wall against which Annan keeps banging his head in the name of being even handed!)

    At this point, none of the political actors in Kenya fulfill my aspirations (for a myriad of reasons) I admit to being demanding and I’m sure alot of others can say the same. Yet until such time as new entrants emerge, I will not advocate reducing us to watching from the sidelines or otherwise cooling our heels because our ideal candidates aren’t in the running. We have the right, freedom and obligation to chose our representatives every 5 yrs, and not every decade, not every quarter century or eternity, for a reason.

    Political study and analysis has always favoured use of negotiation, leverage and pressure as bargaining chips over appeals to one’s ‘better nature’, begging and pleading, this is similarly, for a reason.

    I do not think we can return to being governed by fiat.

    As an aside, whenever I see the laughing and smiling faces of the negotiators emerging from their vehicles/hotels I’m filled with angry contempt-what does this undue display of hilarity and light heartedness mean to suggest? How can a crisis of this magnitude, our most serious since independence, inspire gaiety?

  • Mimi

    I am angry too @ Momo – however Ory, thanks for the tips on ways to help. I know the Baby Brian story was the worst pic I have ever seen out of the Kenya Violence and am glad Joseph and his team have found ways folks can be of help.

    Also the Pwani 4 Peace is encouraging.

  • In the morning i had a chance to talk to people who kept exclaiming “kenya is going to collapse”. I told them it is not going to collapse unless you actively participate each one of us in bringing it down

    AS to power hungry, thats what politicians are otherwise why would you use so much money and efforts for that cause.

    But Annan was using the Big Stick Theory which i think stopped having an effect on them.

  • fiona

    Denial is not the answer.

    This is precisely why we are in this position because we have over the years tolerated the likes of Kibaki and ilk, Raila and his ilk and reduced our pool of leadership to power hungry and blood sucking individuals whose currently as we speak try to validate their power hungry stances by sacrificing our lives am saying when will this nonsense stop.

    What does Kibaki have to lose , why does he want his mighty reign that is already tarnished with disgraceful wife and arrogant staff to be the demise of our nation? How many must die while he fiddles around with “constitutional technicalities” who is he kidding wasn’t the MOU part of his grand ol plan when he got into power they dutiful sunked it up so why should people trust him now? I believe he lost this election and it has cost not one but 1500 lives not to mention the kind of tribal bigotry that is now wrought in our country. Who thought a day will come when a man named Kimani would be quarantined to Central province only? Who thought a day will come when little Achieng and Kieni best friends now can’t even play together? This is the result of selfish, arrogant, blood sucking individuals that have crippled this country with their vile corruption, murderous intentions and disregard for the livelihood of that Kenyan whose backs they ride on.
    Am sick of this peace crap if it will take a battle to bring back peace so let it come and from then on let the country rise to new awakenings am sick of people like Raila and Kibaki to the point that am thinking this is a huge waste of time.
    Am amazed that people like Wangari Maathai are being shunned at a time when this nation needs her the most.

    Myself I would have loved to see this situation resolved, by Kenyans themselves, but guess what if it is going to take Western muscle fo freeze up those resources that have left Kenyan bankrupt and send home the familiies of those in power who think because their families are wallowing in lap of luxury abraod so my life, your life doesn’t mean anything then let it come. That way when the end comes we shall face it together. Then maybe, just maybe out of t his rubble true leaders will emerge.
    How dare they cry “western countries interference” , how worse do they treat their own kind?

    They will be no charity if we don’t fix the home.
    Am ready and willing to do the work am fed up.

  • Christina

    Something positive, Kenyans are standing up…

    Open Letter to H.E. Hon. Mwai Kibaki, The Party of National Unity and Hon. Raila Odinga, The Orange Democratic Movement

    February 27, 2008

    Dear Your Excellencies,

    THE TIME FOR COMPROMISE AND CLOSURE IS NOW: KENYA CONTINUES TO BLEED FOR YOUR LEADERSHIP

    We the undersigned, collectively representing thousands of Kenyan CSOs in this country, jointly call on your leadership to act now to resolve the constitutional, political, social and economic crisis currently facing our beloved Kenya. This is the first time we have come together to speak with one voice. We support and encourage the Mediation Team to continue pressing for a decision. We agree completely with the Chief Mediator H.E. Kofi Annan his team of Eminent of Persons that the talks cannot be resolved at the level of the PNU and ODM negotiating teams alone. Valuable days have been lost in concluding the fourth agreement. The failure of the negotiating teams to find an acceptable compromise places Kenya back on the brink of disaster. Your direct involvement in the talks is now a necessity.

    We call on Kenyans to rise above the failure of the negotiating teams and exercise restraint, shun violence and maintain the spirit of co-existence that has slowly crept back into most of our lives. Despite the worrying evidence of militarization and the presence of militias in many of our urban settlements and rural villages, we believe that Kenyans on the whole are desperate for peace and stability. In this regard, you must support Kenyans who are calling for peace and justice by issuing a collective statement that urges calm to your supporters and censors the organisation and arming of militia by all.

    We inform you that we will continue to monitor and hold you both personally and collectively accountable with your parties responsible for the successful completion of the mediation process and its implementation including that of February 1, 4 and 15th agreements. These include the following;

    1. The disbanding and demobilisation of all illegal armed and militia groups (February 1)

    2. The holding of joint rallies to promote peace and tranquillity (February 1)

    3. The impartial, effective and expeditious investigation into all cases of crime and police brutality and use of excessive force (February 1)

    4. Maximum protection and assistance for internally displaced persons and especially women, to return to their homes and places of work (February 4)

    5. The establishment of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission with the participation of international jurists among others. (February 4)

    6. The establishment of an Independent Review Commission to investigate all aspects of the 2007 Elections (February 15)

    For the moment, the capacity to bring this crisis to an end lies in your hands. Should you also fail to act decisively, you will both betray the remaining national space to bring Kenya back from the brink once more. As the clock ticks, Kenyans will slip into greater despair, anger and violence. In this scenario, your capacity to provide leadership is less clear. The time to compromise and find a solution is now.

    Yours sincerely,

    National Civil Society Congress
    Concerned Citizens for Peace
    Kenya National Council of NGOs

    Peace and Development Network
    Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice Coalition
    Women’s coalition

    c.c. H.E. President Jakaya Kikwete, Chairperson of the African Union

    H.E. Kofi Annan, Leader and Chief Negotiator of the Kenya Mediation and Dialogue Team including Eminent Persons H.E. Benjamin Mkapa and H.E. Graca Machel

    The Kenyan public

  • In more than 25 countries around the world today, Amnesty International members are standing in solidarity with Kenyans. From Washington, DC to Berlin to Kampala, people are Reaching Out for Kenya and calling for security and justice for the victims of the politically motivated and ethnic violence. We want Kenyans to know we stand with them, so we have started a Reach Out for Kenya Facebook group and Flickr.com page for people to post photos and messages. Check out Amnesty International USA’s Kenya page to learn more: http://www.amnestyusa.org/By_Country/Kenya/page.do?id=1011181&n1=3&n2=30&n3=931

  • Sasha

    Ory,

    Have you ever to found the kind of dirt we put out there about our Kenya on countries like USA, UK, Canada? One of your blog readers even once posted dead babies at Kenyan mortuaries!! When an event happens in the states even Sept 11 did you ever see even one dead body? Even the days of civil rights most gruesome killings we hear about brutal attacks have you ever seen one dead American exposed Kenyan style- the way we even do it on national TV during supper time. (unless it’s on Hollywood film) It is no wonder my friends, workmates and colleagues abroad have not depth of interest in my country. We are all savages- we expose ourselves to the west thinking they care. We use blogs like yours thinking its the wave of the future but we have visualized what the west is doing – gone on and even overshot them in so called use of technology (that they channel to us) and use it to destroy ourselves. I am still waiting to see the big round fat bellies of USA children who are hungry the kind we see on world vision of poor 3rd world kids yet- we give more money to feed these hungry kids of USA- even without seeing them. So what are you really doing on this blog? good or evil? And who really cares?

  • KP, are you serious asking how people need to participate?

    It is so plain and in sight what needs to be done,: The middle working class has the power to change kenya, and in a far better way. Why and how?

    While the very low class ( who have nothing to loose, and thus may not think twice in venting their anger on property that they do not own-to be expected, really), the middle class has everything to lose. It is to their interest to change the system for the better. They do not even have to attend a rally. They only need to stay home to send a message of unhappiness. Of course i do not expect professionals from Central kenya to particiapte in such an action, for obvious reasons. And of course, some people could lose their jobs.

    But are the middle class going to do this?. Nope. We forget that those having good working systems all over had to fight for those systems. (E.G. virtually all the american founding fathers , who were wealthy men, lost ALL their properties) Nothing good comes easy.

    The super high class, have little to lose. They have covered their asses; they just need to fly away if things do not work out . (apparently, i hear that before the elections a good # of biz people and traders had moved and camped in Namanga, just in case)

    Now, help if you can, BUT if we emphase humanitarian ways of helping, we will end up forgeting the problem at hand, and you end up advocating/assisting people apply band aid to fatal wounds. In a way, you are applying anaethesia to a dying patient. But is that what we really need to do? I think not.

    By doings lots of that, you are helping Kenya become a charity shop for celebrities in America who need to feel good about themselves and therefore seek an African child to adopt.

  • Justice is conflict. Probably. Politics is arguing about justice. Fair arguments are governed by rules. One enters an argument if one trusts that the rules will be observed. Kenyans have proved to each other that they are unwilling to obey those rules. We no longer trust each other.

    The sense of political engagement relevant to Tavia’s comment is partisan political engagement. Since the trust necessary for respectful argument is now lost; partisan politics is now extremely unwelcome: I think Gabriel Okelo is depraved, ODMers of my acquaintance (example) tend not to. I do not wish to have to choose between my argument and their friendship.

  • STATE OF THE NATION: Raising funds to arm gangs for revenge poison delicate peace

    http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=39&newsid=117758

    Story by NATION Team
    Publication Date: 2/27/2008
    Professionals, traders and politicians from central Kenya contribute money to protect their community in case of confrontation if Annan-led talks flop while elders secretly gather, arm and reinforce thousands of young warriors in remote parts of Rift Valley in preparation for war, NATION investigations reveal

  • Hi Ory,
    very nice blog, you are doing a great job.

    We would like to draw your attention on our charity party “Kenya Nchi Yetu” which is taking place on Saturday, 1st of March, 8pm, in Krefeld/Germany.

    We are raising money to provide food and education for children who are the innocent victims of the violent clashes (no matter which tribe). More info on http://www.badilika.org in English and German.

    Badilika is a small, effectively working non-profit association run by Kenyans and Germans. The organisation is based in Germany supporting various educational projects in Kenya.

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  • [...] Kenyan Pundit had predicted that the current sent up of talks is not meant to go far and that Kenyans had a choice of wrestling their fate from the two leaders: It is increasingly seeming like my worst fears will be confirmed, and the Annan mediation talks will become a long road to nowhere. [...]

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