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MITIGATING POTENTIAL CONFLICT ALONG THE LUO-KALENJIN BORDER.
OPINION LEADERS MEETING AT NANDI
COTTAGES KAPSABET
ON 10TH JANUARY 2013

This program is supported by USAID and the people of Kenya. This report was compiled by the centre for community dialogue &development (CCDD).
Mr. David Busienei called the meeting to order at 9.30 AM, He started off by welcoming all the opinion leaders and appreciating them for finding time to attend the meeting. He called upon one of the participants pastor Dedan Bor to open the session with a word of prayer, and later facilitated the introductory session whereby he requested each of the  participants  to briefly introduce themselves.
Mr. Busienei then proceeded to familiarize the participants about the program objectivities which mainly centered on avenues through which a lasting peace process can be brokered along the border line especially during and after the electioneering period. He reminded the participants that a lasting peace process should be people driven; this is because in the event of conflict they are directly affected and therefore they are well versed with the implications.

C:\Users\admin\Documents\DSC01002.JPG He challenged the leaders that they were now ambassadors of a process that seeks to restore sanity and respect for the rule of law, therefore it was imperative that they work hard and be actively engaged in order to realize this objective. He further urged the opinion leaders to retract their steps and come up with ways that can allow them to live together in harmony.

He later in agreement with the participants put in place the following rules in order to have a fully democratic session;

    • Respect of other people’s views
    • Time keeping
    • Phones should be in silent mode
    • One person should speak at a time
    • The meeting should be fully participatory  

    Remarks by the facilitator:Eunice Kerich

    C:\Users\admin\Documents\DSC01004.JPG she began by reiterating  the fact that peace is a consultative process that should at all times involve all the parties in question , she reasoned that it’s the people who should be in the forefront in championing for peace since their collective well being is totally dependent on the situation at the grassroots .
    she cited the recent clashes that left eleven people dead ,several others displaced and property destroyed and  challenged the participants to support all the peace  initiatives  since clashes   was the major enemy of development  that had for many years held the region  hostage.

    The facilitator then asked the participants to demonstrate their willingness to champion a workable solution by restructuring their sitting arrangement in order to allow  both communities to interact and discuss the issues they believed caused conflict amongst them.

She presided over the group discussions whereby the opinion leaders were randomly put together in groups of ten, regional balance being the key criteria. The groups engaged in fruitful debates on the causes and the possible solutions to the problem as it  emerged during the presentation by the group leaders.

Reaction by elder J. Titi
Mr. Titi appealed for peaceful co-existence between the two communities, he further urged the members to choose their leadership based on their policies and a promise of a better tomorrow and not by tribal affiliation.
Reaction by elder Opiyo
Mr. Opiyo was very impressed by the platform that the forum had created for all to cogently altercate and deliberate on issues that will finally tone down the perennial problem that for many years had remain a time bomb. He recalled that he had lived along the border line long enough to an extend that even his own children had intermarried with the Nandi community “how then will I fight with my in-laws?” He wondered.
He challenged the elders from both communities to take charge of their people particularly the youth, that they should condemn at all times any acts of atrocities orchestrated by them. He further condemned a perception that had been taken  by the members of both communities where they believe stealing from a different community is a lesser evil. A thief is a thief whether he steals from his own community or otherwise and they should be treated as such, a cover up of such a person will be in bad faith and will jeopardize the process of reconciliation.
He urged his colleagues to revive Baraza la Wazee(Elders meetings) to ensure that the rule of law is upheld at all times, He further invited  all the participants to engage one another in all aspects including religious activities to promote togetherness.

Reaction by Salil (News paper reporter)
Salil noted that there has been a failure by the administration to look into the issues that affect these two communities once and for all. He further explained that selective approach to development by government could fan violence in the years to come, therefore these issues must be addressed amicably to avoid unnecessary standoff.
He reiterated laxity on the side of the government to intervene on sensitive issues such as those of land and boundary lines. These are emotive issues that unless a lasting solution is sought, it will keep on  fuelling animosity between  the two communities. It is also very important for the communities to fathom the importance of accommodating each other and tolerate each other during this electioneering period.

Reaction by Chief Alfred
The chief began by appreciating the good will of the leaders who turned up for the meeting. He said problems can adequately be addressed if only people are ready to voice them out. Their presence was a sign of readiness to embrace peace. He said while condemning cattle rustling as an act of impunity which can never be accommodated in this century. He reminded the participants that Kenya now has a new constitution that has the capacity to deal with the historical injustices therefore it was important for the communities to channel their grievances through the appropriate avenues, “if we continue covering up archaic and barbaric acts in the name of protecting community interests is in itself nurturing criminal elements”.                                                                                                       
Mr. Alfred urged the participants to give their very best in promoting peace in their areas ,” come out in large numbers when the forum visits your respective areas, mobilize your people ahead of the visit in order to ensure that the coming meetings will indeed be successful and most importantly achieve its objectives” .
Media partnership
Several media houses graced the occasion which included
Nation television

  • Kass FM
  • Chamgei FM
  • Kitwek FM
  • Sunday express
  • The star
  • West FM 
  • Sayare television

These media houses acted with speed and the message was captured in their one o’clock news and seven o’clock news bulletins.

Way forward
Mr. Busienei briefed the participants about the forums calendar of events and areas where their support is inevitable, he explain that the forum will seek to establish peace cells in the following regions :

  • Kopere
  • Owiro
  • Chepswerta
  • Miwani
  • Chemelil

The forum will visit each of these regions and have a meeting with at least one hundred and fifty representatives per Peace Cell. The one fifty members will then choose seven people who will  be trained on conflict management and early warning mechanisms, this means that a total of thirty five members will be selected from the five peace cells, who will  then be joined by the district peace cells  (DPC).He then informed the participants that the climax of the training will be a road show through all the five places mentioned above which have been identified as hot spots with a major public rally from where the forum intends to publicly launch the Peace Cells.

RECOMMENDATIONS                                                                                          
The opinion leaders were of the opinion that the number of members to be selected per peace cell was too small and therefore called on the program leadership to find avenues through which more members can be added for the community to have better representation in terms of those who will be trained.
There is also need to increase the number of peace cells. While they agreed with the forum that the selected areas were totally appropriate they requested   for more peace cells to be created to be able to restore sanity and tranquility along the border line.
There is also need to consistently partner with a radio/TV program that will be pro active in deliberating on the peace process because the success of the forum will purely be measured by the number of those who will access and utilize its message of peace

CONCLUSION
The opinion leaders were happy that finally there was a platform through which they can air their grievances. They were relieved of the anxiety brought about by the uncertainty of the coming elections. They all pledged to work together and promised that the coming elections will indeed be peaceful.

Pictorial part of the meeting
The facilitator interacting with
the participants

                 
The members of the press taking photos during the session
Reaction by one of the
participants

                        
Participants in group discussion