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SONGHOR COMMUNITY DIALOGUE MEETING
20th April 2013
This program is supported by USAID and the people of Kenya. This report was compiled by the Centre for Community Dialogue &Development (CCDD).
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The session started at 12:30 noon with the introductory session done by Mrs. Pauline Rono who is also Centre Monitor for CCDD at Labuiywo in Tinderet. She then welcomed Songhor community peace chairman Mr. Jonah Kutto who appreciated the facilitation for peace activities by USAID through the Centre for Community Dialogue and Development and welcomed everybody to the day’s event. He also thanked the people of Tinderet for maintaining peace especially during the   recently concluded elections. He also encouraged the participants to keep up the same spirit.


Mr. Jonah Kutto opening the session

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The area chief was also thankful for what CCDD is doing to transform communities to embrace peace.
Rev. Rirei took over and expounded more about the day’s agenda. He took the participants through the previous meetings done at Iboi and Awiro and he informed the meeting that the main reason why peace meetings are carried out is to get to know the main reasons that have brought about conflicts and promote co-existence amongst communities living in the region especially the border between the Kalenjin and Luo Communities.
David Cooke taking participants through the session
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Mr. David Cooke who was the speaker for the day went straight to the main agenda for the day and he made it known to the people in the meeting that peace is like food, it can be served but people cannot be forced to eat. “Conflicts do not come from space. There are root causes that bring about them. We need to scrutinize and identify these causes and bring out solutions”, he said. He then gave a chance to everybody to speak out their mind on the sources of conflicts between them and the Luo community. The following are causes they gave;

  • Poverty which motivates young to steal from the Neighbouring Community
  • Another participant added that land disputes have heightened mainly because people buy land and are not given title deeds. After a length of time the original owner of the land sells the land again without the knowledge of the current occupant thus causing disputes and enmity amongst people in the community.

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  • “Conflicts to a large extent are caused by tribalism and ethnicity as was seen in the 2008 post election violence. People did not care much about one another. We have a duty to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper to ourselves and communities we live together so as to maintain the peace and unity we have”, a participant put across.

            A participant sharing his remark
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  • “Women suffer a lot during conflicts, they are left alone with children, expectant mothers are not comfortable in such environments, property is destroyed and people are killed, children do not go to school, our activities are left pending in our farms and poverty is what we go through at the end of the day. We pray that people see the importance of peace and learn to live it, then we will become one hardworking society”, a participant added.

Pauline giving her remarks
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  • Pauline Rono said that it is in the market that they are able to sell their farm produce. “When conflicts occur the market gets closed, we do not get any income and our families suffer”.

David Cooke interjected and added that though conflicts are always within us, there is need to look more into matters that have brought about conflicts so that peace can be found. He also added that greed and fighting for resources, and increased rates of human population have highly added to these conflicts we go through in our daily lives.  

  • Another participant added that the problems of conflicts are historic, and can be traced back to the colonial era where land disputes have been rampant over the years. He said that when Kenya got independence, people migrated to the various provinces and it is during election seasons that politicians want to answer the land disputes. “The boundaries commission has done its job but the elders understand well about these border lines and they feel it was not properly done, therefore they are bitter about this, but they do not speak it out, this needs to be resolved”. Pauline a participant added on the same and said that disputes are happening in our community because people fight for land boundaries. Another Participant added that the Government in a way has contributed to land disputes by not issuing title deeds and there is need to look into this so that citizens get satisfied and stay in peace.

Challenges

  • Language barrier; some of the members of the forum were older people from the Kalenjin community, thus it made it difficult for them to understand English, even through a translator.
  • Limited attendance; though there were participants, the quorum was limited because all the groups in the society were not represented fully. There were few elders, women and youth.

Recommendations

  • “We ask for respect from our neighbors so that we can live in Peace. We always have disputes and we need to get a permanent solution. We need to look into past conflicts and search for permanent solution as well. People are being displaced by other communities from the land they inherited from their parents, we need to solve this harmoniously”, a participant said.

Participants sharing their remarks 
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  •  A participant said that there is need to sensitize the younger generation to live with everybody in the community so that there is Peace and tranquility in the society. We ask the churches, NGOs and schools to take the lead here .
  • The members in the meeting said that the land they live in, rightfully belong to them. “People who migrate to this place should live at peace with us, communities living at the border should be welcomed to this county but they should learn to respect us and our values”.
  • “We request that when conflicts occur caused by cattle rustling, it should be investigated and solved immediately”, a participant added.

 

Conclusion
Participants were grateful for what CCDD is doing in order to bring back peace in their communities. They promised to be emissaries of peace amongst themselves and to their neighboring communities. They asked for respect from their neighboring community because they feel it is what will bring calm in their society. 

Pictorial view of the days’ events
Rev. Rirei and David during the session       A participant giving his remarks
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Keen participants during the session
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