MITIGATING POTENTIAL CONFLICT ALONG THE LUO-KALENJIN BORDER
EARLY WARNING AND CONFLICT MANAGEMENT TRAINING
VENUE: EDEN SPRINGS HOTEL
DATE: 21ST -22ND MAY 2013
FACILITATORS: REV. RIREI, DAVID & LIZA COOKE
This program is supported by USAID and the people of Kenya. This report was compiled by the Centre for Community Dialogue &Development (CCDD).
DAY -1 (21ST MAY 2013)
The training started at 10:30 am on 21st May 2013 with an opening prayer from Bishop James Mbara. Mr. David Busienei CCDD coordinator took over the introductory session and familiarized the trainees with the day’s program. He appreciated the trainees for their attendance. He emphasized the paramount importance of their attendance as the training offered an opportunity of imparting crucial know how in dealing with the border conflicts.
David Cooke and Rev. Rirei took time to set the climate for the session. They both urged trainees to listen keenly as the training was important for them and their communities back at home.
Laiza Cooke demonstrated and led the participants through active listening skills, including practical exercises. This element of the training is designed to make them more effective in their work by helping them focus upon others and help validate people, their feelings and personhood. She mentioned that individuals and communities need to listen to one another because listening brings out real relationships. She further urged them to put on one another’s shoes in order to understand each others’ weaknesses and misfortunes.
She also taught a further set of skills, termed Mimi-messaging, which helps lower the intensity of communication in conflict situations, by reducing its emotionally accusatory element. Participants were encouraged to avoid reference to past disputes or not to launch verbal attacks, but instead concentrate upon the presenting issue and communicate how it had affected them, rather than blaming others and pointing the finger.
Laiza Cooke during the session Trainees being taken through practical listening skills
Training sessions composed of illustrations, discussions, tests, stories and dramas in which the participants had to draw meaning in relation to early warning signs and conflict management. David Cooke advised participants on the need to read early warning signs, using the participants’ ability to forecast the weather, in order to detect forthcoming trouble. He also emphasized the need to be prepared so as to avoid being caught unawares, thus empowering the participants to be proactive rather than limited to a reactive capacity only, as often been the case in the past. He utilized the history of the Rwandan genocide to stress the impact of hate speech and stereotyping, both in the media and the home, as a precursor to and cause of conflict.
Discussion groups and illustrations used during the sessions.
Rev Rirei took the participants through a session that taught analytical skills, using an arresting parable of drowning babies. This enabled the participants to see that the source and not just the effects of conflict must be sought and found, and that usually the former can only be dealt with upstream. He also introduced them to the concept of the hidden hand, and none present showed any difficulty grasping this.
David Cooke told the participants that peace within their communities fully depended on them. The work started with them and their need to change their way of thinking and attitude towards their communities. Participants agreed on this and Ass. Chief Arusei pointed out that there is a need for them to understand that they are Kenyans and not just Luos or Kalenjins as they have always claimed. David Cooke also asked them not to focus their blame upon the Luo or Kalenjin community or the ‘wazungu’ for their current conflicts. He pointed out that while knowledge of historical injustices can help explain how the current situation arose, blaming each other would not solve the problem; instead the situation would remain unchanged.
David Cooke during the session
Rev. Rirei demonstrated the connection between attitudes and behavior and then asked “How do we change our attitude so that our behavior changes?” Assistant Chief Chemursoi answered that change will start from their homes which will thereafter change their children’s mindset. Rirei advised them to change their attitudes since it is inevitable if they really want to do away with their inter-community conflicts.
Rev. Rirei during the session
DAY -2 (22ND MAY 2013)
On this day, the trainees were taken through recap sessions to remind themselves of
What they discussed on day one. Laiza Cooke once again took them through practical listening skills session.
David Cooke took the participants through a topic on history and migration patterns intended to help participants in recognizing and understanding those aspects of culture and history that are common to both communities. This session helped the participants understand their origin and that migration is an on-going process.
Rev. Rirei and David Cooke also took them through a topic entitled ‘Making Peace on War’. What fascinated the trainees was the fact that the skills of war and the making of weapons have been taught and studied throughout recorded history. People read, even now, ‘The Art of War’ by the Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, written 2,700 years ago. During all this time people have studied the tactics of war and not how to build peace. Only in the last few decades has peace become a subject for specialized study. Only recently have human beings started to learn how to make peace through dialogues, seminars, mediations and trained peace-makers.
Cooke then facilitated a session when the participants offered the following as some of the means of strengthening the Connectors between communities: -
- Common language, and avoidance of use of mother tongues in public spaces
- Action committees
- Joint activities and projects
- Collaboration and not competition
- Mixed churches
It was emphasized that both communities start making peace and not engage in conflicts that tear apart good relationships within families and communities.
Peace Reporting Chain
Laiza Cooke advised on the need for opinion leaders to communicate with one another so that they are aware of what is going on in the region and this way they needed to make a peace reporting chain. The trainees were organized according to their locations to form peace reporting chains. It was necessary to create common information networks. The participants came up with five peace reporting chain groups. These groups are headed by peace coordinators who will be responsible for informing their group members on matters of peace in their locations. It was important that coordinators have names and contacts of their peace reporting chain members and also other key actors of peace in their locations and the whole region as well including security agencies.
Peace reporting chain coordinators chosen were;
Name Contact Location
- Teresa Odada 0735565619 N.E Kano
- Pauline Jelagat 0711319242 Chemase
- Ezekiel Odhiambo 0721567763 Chemelil
- Amos Magendo 0717220189 Miwani
- Eunice Atito 0724391377 Chemelil
Douglas Otiato, an opinion leader, asked CCDD to support peace reporting chain coordinators when deliberating on their activities so as to enhance their accountability and responsibilities.
He also added that they had formed cross-border meetings to deliberate issues affecting them like land conflicts and cattle rustling. He said that the committee members meet occasionally to discuss these matters and to seek the way forward.
Bishop James Mbara asked for items that will be used in identifying them as peace reporting chain coordinators and as peace-makers in the region.
David Cooke told the participants that what was important is that which is within them. He asked them to change their perceptions, attitude and behavior since this is foundational work in ending conflict at the border and promoting growth and development in the region.
David Busienei also urged them to open up and speak freely because they are peace-makers who represent their communities and are accountable for their actions. He appreciated the efforts of Eunice Atito in forming a cross-border committee in Kopere whose main function is to promote peace through dialogue and joint projects. He further went on to appreciate provincial administration in attendance and asked them to create partnerships with citizens so that they become efficient.
Ken Onyango, a KTI official urged the participants to implement lessons from the training and the nine forums they had been taken through previously. He emphasized the need to coexist and develop their region through useful projects. He asked them to be good ambassadors of peace especially to their communities and seek for permanent solutions to the conflict. He further went on to appreciate CCDD and NSC officials for their efforts in bringing peace at the Luo/ Kalenjin border.
Cornelius Kipkoech, a KASS FM presenter in attendance asked participants to shun tribalism and land conflicts in the region. He congratulated David Busienei for his commendable job in working with communities and trying to solve their issues through Dialogue and Development.
Media houses in attendance were; Sayare T.V, KASS FM, Kitwek FM and Citizen T.V. Their attendance was timely as the situation at the Kalenjin-Luo border is one that needs attention and people need to be informed. The sessions captured during the training were aired on Sayare T.V, KASS and Kitwek FM Stations in the evening, just after the training was completed. The story was also captured on page 10 of Kass Weekly Magazine dated 26th May 2013.
Cornelius, journalist from KASS FM Sayare T.V journalist taking views during the session
The participants were grateful that the training had impacted in their lives. They promised to be emissaries of peace as they return to their communities. They collectively agreed that it was time to seek for lasting peace at the border.
Participants during the training
Rev .Rirei and David Cooke David Busienei during the session
Trainees during recap sessions