Have we done enough or are we still on a precipice – an article for the commonwealth publication

Have we done enough or are we still on a precipice

The year 2007 was a year of great hope that the peaceful elections of 2002 could be replicated if not improved on. The people voted in large numbers in an otherwise peaceful election which pitted the incumbent president Mwai Kibaki versus Raila Odinga. This peace turned out to be the calm before a major storm; a storm of violence and chaos which threatened to cast the country into a prolonged civil war. The election results which favored the incumbent were disputed and the opposition call for demonstrations against these results led to chaos manifested through violence, looting and tribal killings. Retaliation followed and for several days, death became the order of the day and millions got displaced from their homes to languish in cold IDP camps. People who had lived for years as neighbors turned on each other hacking them and their children to death while others were burnt to death even in the refuge of a holy church. Businesses were looted and others razed to the ground as communities sought to cleanse those perceived to be members of other tribes whose interests purportedly run parallel to their own. Efforts were made to end the impasse with diplomats from the US and emissaries from Af5ica sent in to mediate a peaceful solution. Finally, efforts by Koffi Annan and his group led to a coalition government tasked with ensuring that the country enacts sufficient reforms to ensure that the country never teeters to the brink of collapse ever again.

Have we done enough? This should be the question in every ones lips as the country nears the general elections in March 2013. The answer is not as simple as it should be and the answers are not homogenous either. However, there is a growing sentiment that the ruling regime has not done enough and that no one can say with absolute confidence that the ugly demon of tribalism will not rear its head once again. But perhaps the problem is not what has been done but what can be undone by selfish politicians in the remaining few months. In the last election, the politicians Balkanized the nation by trying to show that the election was contest between the Kikuyu tribe versus all other tribes. Recent attempts to prosecute some politicians on hate speech charges shows that the culture of politicians using tribe to amass power is still rampant and unless we act decisively to curb the practice, the country is not safe from chaos. The coalition government has done a lot to reconcile the country by attempting to understand the problems which provided a fertile ground for the violence. Major reforms have been carried out in the judiciary, police and prosecution to encourage more peaceful alternatives in the future. The hallmark of this efforts was a new constitution endorsed by the Kenyan people as a guideline to a more prosperous and peaceful Kenya. To discourage impunity, the ICC indicted some high profile people and will try them next year on charges of genocide, rape, displacement and other charges which the prosecutor might deem necessary. But still, the feeling remains that we haven’t done enough.

Families still languish in IDP camps across the country with the government failing to do enough to resettle them. In fact some efforts to resettle them in some regions have been met with hostility by local communities signaling that reconciliation efforts haven’t achieved their intended goals. Politicians that are facing charges in the ICC are frontrunners in the coming election casting doubt on the seriousness of courts to stop future transgressions by politicians. Commissions tasked with the duty of reconciliation the nation and averting similar occurrence have not achieved much despite their large mandates and hefty remunerations. Present political deals depict tribal motivations leading many to wonder; what happened to nationalistic politics? The people of Kenya need to rise beyond tribal politics and understand that we either rise or fall as one nation. Together we can chart a better future for ourselves and our children and send a clear message to the politicians. Never again shall we let a few selfish individuals push us to destroy what we have built in so many decades. Peace is the foundation on which we shall base our future growth, development and unity.

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