Header Ads


Local universities, government departments and the private sector players are gearing up for a major peace conference to be held in Thika town this week amid increasing cases of banditry attacks in semi-arid areas and rising political jitters ahead of the August 8 General elections.   

The three-day forum will be held from May 18-20 at Mwai Kibaki Convention Centre at Mount Kenya University (Mku) main campus, Thika. Partnering in organizing and funding the meeting are diplomatic missions based in Nairobi, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), University of Nairobi, MKU, various organisations of the United Nations and several private companies.

Dubbed the Second International Conference on Peace, Security and Social Enterprise, the meeting aims to provide a platform to dialogue and address pertinent issues on peace, security, and social enterprise for sustainable development at the global level and especially in Kenya during an electioneering period. Its theme is; The role of universities, public and private sectors in peace building for socio-economic development.

“MKU believes that by all of us joining hands, this conference will make a huge contribution in making not only Kenya but the world to embrace peace and tolerance at all times. I appeal to you that we all join hands to promote a peaceful and a tolerant society,” says Dr Vincent Gaitho, Pro Chancellor at MKU.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya is expected to be the chief guest. Other notable speakers include NCIC chairman Dr Samuel Kobia; Prof Mark Charlton of De Montfort University, UK; The chairman of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) Ms Anne Makori; and Kenya’s ambassador to Belgium Prof Bitange Ndemo.

Speaking during a forum to prepare for the conference held at a Nairobi hotel earlier this year, The Vice-Chancellor, MKU, Professor Deogratius Jaganyi represented by Dr. Evans Mwiti, decried the cycle of violence which happens every year before and after each General Election. “MKU has decided to make contributions to minimize if not eradicate the impact of such violence during elections or any other time,” Dr Mwiti said.

Kenya has in the past witnessed post-election violence stemming from highly contested campaign periods and disputed results. Thus peaceful electioneering periods would catalyze social enterprise as well as entrench good democratic and governance practices.

Clashes between members of different communities or ethnicities over limited resources such as water and pasture also remain a disruptive challenge. Cultural practices including cattle rustling often result in internal displacement of the attacked communities and disrupt their social-economic activities. These practices undermine normal livelihood activities and fuel poverty within communities.

However, Dr. Samuel Kobia, Chairman, National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), disagreed with the common view that “Kenyans live in peace most of the time it is only elections that divide us; any ethnic divide only really exists when one is in a pressure or power situation. How many people in Kenya only hire mostly from their own tribe within their homes and businesses? If your watchmen, house helps, and other staff are all from one tribe, then we already know that if you get power you will choose to support and hire your tribesmen.” he said.

Quoting Michelle Obama, Dr Kobia said power doesn’t necessarily change you more than it simply exposes who you are at the core. Further, many have postulated that politicians only reflect the society from which they come. “In essence, the corruption we see in politics, the hate speech, and the inclination to tribal division is a reflection of Kenyan society, '' he regretted.

Dr Kobia told parents to stop discouraging their children from marrying from certain ethnicities. “Repeating lies that we heard in the past that basically made people from other ethnicities unfavorable companions,” he said, adding that Kenyans ought to learn from the 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

“We also have a serious trust deficit between Kenyans and their institutions. For example the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) suffer a very low trust score among the populace. This fact means that whenever the IEBC declares a result, there is automatic doubt on the part of the loser. This is a fact that our politicians exploit, declaring they can’t lose before elections as we can see them do now. The chest thumping soon turns sour whenever they lose. This is yet another example of how citizen distrust can lead to violence. Citizens need to learn to trust the process,” he said.

“We must begin to change what is normal for a Kenyan. For example we should stop needing to write on every wall in town usikojoe hapa, because it should be normal for men to go to a proper bathroom to do their business. Similarly it should not be normal for you to have to write on your piece of land that it is not for sale. It should not be normal for people to try to steal from you what is yours,” he said.

Dr Kobia said the many killings we see over petty arguments at the household level are indications of how uncouth, jealous and unloving citizens have become. “We insist on our own way and if we don’t get our way we are quick to pick pangas and other weapons of violence to settle simple matters. Yet, we need to make a tolerant society,” he said.

He told Kenyans to stop celebrating vice and those that are privileged by being thieves, corrupt and wash-wash barons. “What is sad is that our teenagers have seen that being bad pays in Kenya. When they go to a club, it is the politician who is in the VIP section with the best girls and drinks. When they go to church, the politician gets close to the bishop and is prayed for the most. Now if both heaven and hell seem to respect ill-gotten wealth why would they want to change?  he said.

 “Is it a wonder then that Dr. Alex Awiti of Aga Khan University found that 60 per cent of our youth find no wrong in one being rich via corruption?” he added, asking Kenyans to change its reward system.

The NCIC Chairman urged Kenyans to take the organisation’s elections Bila Noma roadmap, which focuses on making citizens responsible for peace. “Universities need to have courses on Article 10 of the Constitution and mold our students to be proper citizens of this nation. We have created the walls of shame and fame so that we can all as a nation embellish being a good citizen focused on peace and to totally shun and shame the bad citizens who espouse hate speech and intolerance,” he said.

MKU Pro-Chancellor, Dr Vincent Gaitho regretted that Kenya has experienced firsthand consequences of intolerance in several instances, a route that should never be taken again. “At MKU, we reckon that institutions of learning have an important role to play not only in teaching but also in imparting values of tolerance, mutual respect and embracing diversity among the youths of this region,” he said.

Dr Gaitho said MKU offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes on peace, security and justice through the institute of security studies, justice and ethics while many other institutions offer related programmes.

Earlier last month, conference organisers spearheaded peace walks across seven counties to sensitise local communities on the need to embrace and sustain peace at all times and more so during the electioneering period and after.  April 6, 2022 also marked the International Day for Peace and Development.

Launching the event, MKU Vice-Chancellor, Prof Deogratius Jaganyi said the first international conference on peace, security and social enterprise took place successfully at Safari Park Hotel in 2017 just before that year’s General Election. “Kenya is a global hub of international connectedness. Thus, it is vital to note that the peace agenda in Kenya is both of national as well as of international importance. Hence, the choice of a conference of an international status,” he said.  

1 comment:

Powered by Blogger.