Since 29th December 2007, we have seen our hopes and aspirations dwindle by the day as our leaders appear completely inured to the death, disruption and suffering that has engulfed our country. We have pleaded with them to put aside their self-interests and focus on the greater good - our welfare – the citizens of
Don’t our leaders live in this country? Do they watch television and read newspapers? Are they immune to the sight of mobs hacking their fellow citizens to death? Are they not moved by mothers and children being burnt to death in the places they went to seek refuge? Don’t they lose sleep at night over this calamity?
What is wrong with our leaders? Why do they continue to speak so insensitively and arrogantly? Is it because they remain unaffected by the chaos? Is it because their children don’t sleep hungry and are still able to go to school while those of many citizens are caught up in camps unsure where the next meal will come from or whether they will ever go to school again? Whether they will be alive tomorrow? Do our leaders believe that their status protects them from a further breakdown of law and order? Do they think that they are safe? Do they believe that their wealth or the money stashed away in some foreign country will save them? If this is what they believe, then they do not really understand the level that the current crisis could escalate to if not decisively dealt with. They need to revisit the scenarios published by the
As Citizens, we must take the responsibility to end the violence now. And why is this civic response best placed to end the violence? Because the police cannot cover every nook and cranny of the country where the violence is occurring. Because we are the ones who are suffering and in turn causing others even greater pain through our acts of revenge and counter violence. We are the ones who pick up a rungu, a stone, a panga, bows and arrows and other weapons against our fellow citizens. Parents have shamed themselves in the eyes of their children as they financed and encouraged the violence, set upon their neighbours, killing them, chasing them away and destroying that which they have worked for all their lives. Children have shamed themselves in the eyes of their parents and the entire community through the barbaric acts committed in the streets, on road-blocks, in the slums, major urban areas, and in far flung villages! We have shamed ourselves in the eyes of our neighbours and the entire world by failing to rise against these injustices in righteous indignition as a citizenry and bring the mayhem to an immediate end. None of us can hold our heads up high anymore, we are disgraced as a people, now being referred to as examples of what should not happen to other parts of the continent.
We must bring all this to a stop and restore our pride of place as a country, as a people! The violence must end now before it takes all of us down! For it does have the potential to get far worse and take us to a point that would take generations to address let alone recover. That is why all of us must be united in our civic duty to end the anarchy now!
Let us take the lead as citizens to bring an end to this violence. Let us determine today that no other person will be injured, killed or displaced from their home. Let us determine today that there will be no further destruction of property, no further burning of houses, farms and business premises! Let us determine today that we, as individuals, will not cause another person to suffer any loss, of life or property. Let us determine today that the only images that will appear on TV screens and in newspapers are those of reconciliation, healing and hope! Inside each one of us is the power to do right. The power to overcome evil with virtue, morality and justice. We all know it is within us, we just need to be honest to ourselves and heed our conscience. Let each one of us make a commitment today to make our own small contribution to end this violence and participate in efforts to establish a lasting peace and human dignity in our country. In the end, you will find that, what you considered to be a small contribution will make the difference as to what kind of future you and I are able to enjoy.
We still believe that that future will be bright. We still believe that we will be able to live in a secure, democratic, prosperous and just society FOR ALL. Not just some, but all Kenyans. But the violence must stop.
Our leaders have so far failed us in safeguarding this vision. They have failed in the primary duty of any leader worth the name – that of promoting the welfare of their supporters, of every citizen in our land. Instead, they continue to be insensitive in their speech and omissions. They continue to put conditions before ending the violence even as more lives are lost or disrupted and properties destroyed. But all is not lost: our leaders still have an opportunity to redeem themselves. They too can decide today to end the violence. They too can decide that this is not the time for political games which are costing peoples lives. They too can decide to go out and reach out to their supporters and genuinely urge them to end the violence. They too can contribute to an early political settlement that will create the environment for addressing the deep-rooted issues that have led us to this tragedy. This is not the time for double speak and duplicity, it is the time for a true commitment to put our differences aside and confront the monster of violence that has reared its head across the country. Our leaders must determine to demonstrate a new level of integrity as they call for an end to the violence. They must say it and mean it, in all languages!
Whether our politicians heed our call or not, we as citizens must decide to BE THE LEADERS in ending the violence and contributing to lasting peace. Let us demonstrate that we are not pawns to be manipulated at every turn. As we wait for the truth to be established and justice to be done, let us seek forgiveness from those we have offended, those who we have deeply hurt and denied the opportunity to lead a dignified life. Let us also forgive those who have offended us, hurt us, killed those who are dear to us and destroyed our entire life’s work. Let each one of us determine that we shall not spread another hate message and instead embrace each other with love, irrespective of our ethnicity or political persuasion. Let us restore calm so that we can have an environment that can enable us to address the constitutional framework, poverty and inequality, distribution of national resources, poor leadership, weak institutions, corruption and impunity, the very deep-rooted land question, and a deliberate process to gain a deep understanding of our history and the injustices that remain unresolved. Ending the violence does not mean we ignore these fundamental issues. It means we create conditions that unite us and bring our collective abilities and energies together to comprehensively deal with these issues and hold those we have put in positions of responsibility to account.
But for now, let us all focus on ending the violence. Let it stop. For our sake and that of our children, let it stop.
Send an e-mail to The Citizens Pathway Group: citizensolution(at)gmail.com
Supporting The Peace Agenda: A Citizens Pathway