- I want to invite each of you to take a harrowing walk with me.
Our walk must start in Eldoret, only because when I was a student at the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton, I loved going to that town. It was there that, like I revealed here once, I met the late Bishop Alexander Kipsang Arap Muge. He left a permanent impression in my life. Every day of my life I wake up and hope that I can have the courage and dignity that he projected. Even these many years later, I still miss him.
- But that's not gonna be the focus of our conversation as we walk.
We are taking this walk because I want to demonstrate the power of forgiveness. Let's start our walk right in the town center. As we walk, you and I know that an army of seething men is ahead of us with arrows and spears. They've painted their faces black and are carrying twigs. You and I have been warned that these furious warriors have been tasked to drive out of their land anybody from the Mt. Kenya Region that they encounter. Whoever refuses to leave must be killed.
- As we follow these warriors, we see them approach a church where we know that women and children have sought shelter. You and I hold our breath, wondering what's gonna happen. We freeze when we see one of the warriors hurl a can of paraffin at the church. We didn't even know they had paraffin. Now we do. Then we watch in horror as another warrior tosses a red-hot object at the church and it explodes in gigantic flames.
The church is burning.
People are burning.
Your nose catches the smell of raw flesh burning.
You hear children crying.
- And within minutes, there is quiet. The church crumbles. And we stand there wondering whether this is a dream or reality. But we don't have to wonder long because the warriors start to move on, sounding off war cries. They are ready to drive out all the Kikuyu!
I turn to you and say, "I can't handle this. We have to go back to town."
- We go back.
Two days later we take a walk in Naivasha. This time we follow another group of warriors who seek out the Luo and the Luhya and the Kalenjin. This group slashes and burns people. They destroy homes and property. But when they approach a home and we see them slash a man and his wife, then set their home on fire and the couple burns to shells, you and I decide we can't take any more walks. We are traumatized by what we've seen.
- A week later we are strong enough to ask what happened in Eldoret and Naivasha. We are told that in Eldoret and in Naivashsa people died cursing those who killed them. We don't hear a single story of anybody who died with these words on their lips: I forgive you!
Being human, as you and I are, we know that it's never easy to forgive those who do us wrong. Yet there is nothing that feels as good as taking the moral high ground, forgiving those who don't deserve forgiveness from us. Take Nelson Mandela for example, how would South Africa have turned out if he'd come out of prison seething and intent on exacting revenge?
- Wretched things have happened in Kenya. There have been assassinations. Deceit. Corruption. Name it. But I also know that we all retain the capacity to look deep inside ourselves and make amends where we went wrong. It's in this vein that I call for a national day of forgiveness. Kenya desperately needs to start afresh. We all need to hear the agonizing cry of those kids in that Eldoret church and seek each other's hand in forgiveness and a pledge to never let anything so despicable happen in Kenya again.
In like manner, I hope that our brothers and sisters held in prisons across the nation because of the post-election clashes can be released. I'm not calling for amnesty here. I'm saying they should be forgiven. Yes, let Kenya forgive them so we can all move forward as brothers and sisters bound by a common destiny.
- I'm waiting for the day when President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka will invite Kenyans to Uhuru Park and lead the nation to a place of heartfelt healing on that national day of forgiveness.
Let the blood of our brothers and sisters bind us together in love and unity.