Who will build the bridges?

September 18, 2006 at 4:34 pm 4 comments

*This is a slightly edited version of a letter I sent a friend today.

“….I was thinking right now about the clashes and I believe that we need to pray that our country be healed because of the needless and politically-motivated bloodshed. It was for political and material gain, and only a handful of people benefited from it, throwing Kenya back to the dark ages. Even the most enlightened people reverted to tribalism (all sides) some for gain and others in protests…..”
Friend –

I thank you for your mail and the kind thoughts therein.

I want you to know that I feel and share in your pain ever so greatly concerning the ethnic clashes that rocked our country in the 1990s.

It was a silly, mindless and demonic project; like you, I pray ever so much that God preserves our great nation from such in our generation and in the days to come.

I pray for healing upon our land and people too; I have met many who still yearn for retributive (has more to do with punishment), restorative (has more to do with indemnity) and distributive justice (has more to do with resource access and allocation).

And such people carry many wounds and passions; all the more why we cannot wish this away as a nation.

My own family survived the clashes on more than three occasions.

In the first instance, we were travelling into a certain town, only to be stopped at the main highway (into town) by some men who had been stationed there by elements in the security services as well local politicians to check out some “weeds” from coming into town.

We only survived because, by the grace of God, we could speak the locals’ language fluently.

On the second occasion, one of our family members survived death because when the killer youths came into our home (in another town), he was found on his knees reading the Bible and praying.

Convinced that such a person posed no threat to their interests, they left him alone (interestingly, we later learnt that the youths had been sent by one of the leading voices in contemporary Kenyan Christianity (the stuff we do in the name of God!).

On the third occasion (again in another town), the murderers surrounded the town in which we lived.

They seemed to know the small town had but only 30 or so policemen and that the nearest reinforcements were a good a hundred or so kilometres away (with no way to either travel or quickly communicate with our town).

Needless to say, they surrounded the police post with their stronger weaponry and terrorized the rest of us for the rest of the night (8:00 p.m till 2:00 a.m in the morning); we survived but several of our neighbours and traders in town didn’t.

I had several other encounters.

Each time I thought about it, I realized that those wrecking havoc were folks that ought to have known better; I never could have fought back in the towns in question without harming either a friend or a relative, for so extensive are my multi-ethnic ties.

Even if I had wanted to settle scores, deep within my heart lay and still lies the belief that violence as a tool for political mobilization will be our country’s undoing.

As Kiriro wa Ngugi once said: “Whenever tribe replaces party as a tool for political mobilization, our road to Rwanda becomes very short indeed.”
I had thought the Narc government’s promise of a truth and reconciliation commission would help us process all this, but of course I’m none the wiser at the moment regarding the fate of all that.

As a reporter with one of our country’s mainstream media outlets a few years ago, I had the (mis)fortune of being sent to cover a public hearing of the Makau committee that was then going round to gather some opinions on the proposed commission.

I left the place weeping; Kenyans are a great people to endure so much pain and need that still lingers on as a result of the clashes.

I’ll tell you one other thing: No politician who, in the court of public opinion, has ever shed innocent blood for whatever reason is going to get my vote in next year’s election, whatever party or coalition he or she joins.

I cringe every time I see them on telly, hear them on radio or read them in the dailies exhorting wananchis to be this or that; I wonder if they ever think they could be ringing so hollow?

I also wonder if they ever ponder about not just the Imago Dei they share with the rest of us and the present as well as everlasting implications of that, but also if they ever hear some of the cries people have in this life.

I could keep writing till Kingdom come; so long a letter.
Let us look up; the sun is still shining.

My prayers go with you and our great nation.

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Entry filed under: Africa, Crime, Culture, Economics, Kenya, Literature, Media, Missions, Personals, Politics, Religion, Society, World.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. uaridi  |  September 18, 2006 at 11:59 pm

    Kongoi mising

    Reply
  • 2. Kenyan Analyst  |  September 19, 2006 at 7:37 am

    Urathimwo! 🙂

    Reply
  • 3. bizkenya  |  September 25, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    Clashes are sad unforgetable experiences. I was a victim. i lost relatives and the most antoganising thing is leaving in endless fear 24/7 which engulfed the area in 92 abd 97.
    Its sad seeing such a thing happening and it should stop at all cost.

    Reply
  • 4. I refuse to believe these « Kenyan Analyst  |  September 29, 2006 at 5:29 am

    […] *I refuse to believe that the Molo affair could have lasted this long. I like the government’s intentions as explained by Dr. Mutua jana – nothing comparable to that thus far – but I refuse to believe this could have gone on for so long. Anything that reminds me of our dirty, collective past (as a nation) takes away whatever good has been chalked up in the last few years.  I hate it that I have friends from both the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities going through this in the said areas at this moment in time. […]

    Reply

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