CENTRE FOR COMMUNITY DIALOGUE AND DEVELOPMENT
MIWANI COMMUNITY FORUM
ON 29 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)
The meeting started at 10.00 am with a word of prayer from Mr. Thomas Kosgey, Mr. Busienei then welcomed all the participants and appreciated them for turning up in large numbers to grace the very important event, he then presided over the introductory session.
Mr. Busienei then proceeded to welcome all the participants to the forum then in agreement with the participants put in place the following rules in order to have a fully democratic session;
- That the participants use the shortest time possible.
- The participant contributions should be devoid of emotional attachment.
- That the session was not a court of law and therefore no one would be allowed to mention anyone’s name.
- That the participants contributions should be consistent relevant and should reflect the current state of affairs at Owiro.
Mr. Busienei then proceeded to set the climate of the session; he appreciated the community mobilizers for marshalling a good number of people from Miwani to grace the occasion. He further thanked the participants for choosing peace and turning up for the very important occasion.
Remarks by the facilitator Miss. Eunice Kerich
The facilitator began by appreciating the Miwani community at large for accepting to be part of the process that seeks to restore sanity and oneness in the area, he urged the members to conduct themselves with modesty and unmatched asceticism.
“Going by what happen in 2007 no amount of clashes will yield justice peace and unity, we will destroy that which we have labored diligently to achieve over the years but eventually have nothing to show for it because as always two wrongs can never make a right”. .
“Kenya has had a turbulent political history, where no one wish to get back to, the only tangible avenue through which we can demonstrate that we have indeed learned from those mistakes is to ensure that the power of our democracy reigns supreme, we need find it in ourselves to respect the opinions of others and accommodate their most extreme divergent views”.
She pleaded with the participants to choose to be associated with peace. “The notion that we are associated with violence does not auger well with our international investors because we cannot afford to define our elections with violence and acts of lawlessness”.
“Retrogressive and outrageous events of the recent past has served to vindicate our incapability to solve our differences peacefully. Must we lose lives and property worth millions of shillings to understand that that course of action does not belong to our age and time? Let’s not regret because we indeed still have sufficient time to right all the wrongs forgive and forge a common destiny of a people who have risen again and ready to start afresh”.
She concluded by challenging the participants to appreciate the efforts of community dialogue and development and that of the main sponsor USAID, for what they have done in their attempt to restore thespirit of togetherness in the region by ensuring the coming elections will be peaceful.
REMARKS BY THE OFFICER COMMANDING MIWANI POLICE STATION
The OCS validated that ethnic conflicts occurs when particular politicians influence a set of factors and conditions that would likely whip ethno political emotions, which is exactly what has over the time polarized several conflict prone areas Miwani included.
He called on the participants to eschew from manipulating inter ethnic grievances, historical injustices and memories that would likely promote ethnic intolerance, and evoke emotions such as fear, resentment, antipathy and hate towards the other ethnic community.
“If my memory serves me right, you have been rising against one another for the last twenty years fighting over resources such as land and livestock but as of now there have never been any tangible breakthroughs. We have absolutely nothing to show for all that. Time has come for us to give a clear break to these acts of lawlessness”.
He pleaded with them to give sufficient amount of time for the present day constitution to be fully implemented as it has the capacity to address the so many issues that affects the region. He cited the formation of a credible land commission and Independent Electoral and Boundaries commission as a sign of restoration of lasting peace process in the country.
He further notified the participants that now the police force is now fully technology savvy and that with the introduction of short message service means that the members of the public no longer need to visit police stations to report any case.” I know that not so many of us here will have the confidence to walk to the station and notify our officers about any issue on the ground”. He said.
“Prevention is always better than cure. Let us not ignore any signs of conflict however small it might seem. In fact I want to thank the centre for community dialogue and development for choosing to train our peace cell members on early warning mechanisms as we will have a society that’s proactive in averting conflicts at all costs”.
He concluded by reminding the residents that they had unmatched power to give peace a chance to thrive, he noted that the February clashes was brought to an end not by the hundreds of General service unit officers but the decision of the people to come together and resolve their differences peacefully, that’s the spirit we need to embrace at all times.
Remarks by the area chief
He began by thanking the local administration represented by the several assistant chiefs who graced the occasion and further thanked the several members of the public for sacrificing their time and even resources to ensure that they heed the call for peace.
He lamented that the greatest problem in Miwani was the fact that people had perfected the culture of baptizing other sins to make them look lesser of a crime. We are purely being protective. “A progressive nation will allow the rule of law to take its course. A thief is a thief and they should be treated as such irrespective of which community they come from”.
“When we set ablaze acres of sugar cane plantations knowing very well that thousands of money had been invested in the same, do we care about the loss the owner are forced to bear? We are well versed with the fact that this is our main economic activity in the region and we all depend on it to send our children to school, put food on our table and run our daily activities”.
“We cannot hold our economy hostage in the name of retaliatory attacks, and we have a functioning government that’s meant to articulate the issues that bedevils our societies. Lets at the very least have confidence in its impartiality and ability to solve those problems”.
He challenged the participants to be honest and truthful in their contributions because time for lip service in solving serious problems was long gone! “Let’s be ready, willing and able to read from the same page and accommodate one another because we are all here to stay”.
Remarks by the elder Paul Karan
He began by appreciating the participants for turning up in large numbers for the big event and further appreciated the facilitators enlightening them on the so many issues that they have over time been neglecting.
He reiterated that peace is not elusive in Miwani as many people had been made to believe. He went ahead to say that “even the clashes of February was resolved expeditiously because our people value peace. The fighting was purely orchestrated by fabricated rumors that arm twisted and manipulated the emotions of the people to form an opinion that their respective communities were under siege”.
He narrated how they together with likeminded members of both communities intervened to stop youths from neighboring villages who were descending down the valley in complete combat gear. The young men were ready even to kill and the reason being our cattle had been stolen and our people killed. We thank God because they listened and gave up.
He warned the participants to spurn the culture of spreading malicious and misleading information that could threaten the very fabric of their unity. If a Luo is killed for whatever reason by a member of another community I assure you that killing even ten members of that community will never make up the loss of that life. We need to begin to uphold the sanctity of life and most importantly respect other people’s opinion and their right to live.
Peace cell committee members
The participants in consensus proposed the following members to represent Miwani peace cell during the training,
- Richard Tarus
- Solomon Karan
- Elizabeth Tanui
- Amos Otieno
- James Onyango
- Rose Ochieng
- Kiprotich Bisem
The elected peace committee members collectively pledged to work closely with centre for community dialogue and development in promoting peace in the region and beyond.
The members were of the opinion that the forums should be conducted at the village level as different villages have different issues that needed to be resolved.
The participants also called on the local administration to restore the community policing to enhance proper and better access to information.
They also recommended the reestablishment of rotational council of elders meetings from both communities to promote cohesion.
The participants also requested the provision of t-shirts, reflectors and caps with peace messages to promote the relaying of peace messages at the grassroots.
The meeting centered on peace as a pillar of all the successes in the region. The participants acknowledged that they may not have contributed enough in championing for peace in the past but that time is long gone. They pledge to ensure that peace will prevail not only during the coming elections but also in the days to come.
An elder giving his remarks
Mr Tarbei coordinating the election of
Peace cell committee members
A youth during the session cross section of the participants