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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Are our leaders cut out for peace-building? Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Jakomwodo, Kenya Jul 14, 2009
Human Rights , Media , Peace & Conflict   Experiences


After the 2007 elections, Kenya was burning. Tens of thousands of people, mostly women and children, were displaced. The world thought Kenya was finished. Was it ethnicity or just people and power?

In recent weeks, the Kenyan delegation went to The Hague to meet Louise Moreno, a prosecutor for International Criminal Court, about post poll chaos. The chief mediator for post election violence in Kenya, Kofi Annan, might have been rubbed the wrong way by the move by Kenyan leaders to cut him out by dealing directly with The Hague. So, he went and handed the names of suspects to the ICC, something which has spurred mixed reactions in homes, offices and streets across Kenya.

We expected such a reaction, but what we are not sure of is what will happen if Moreno makes the names public. With 42 tribes, naming some leaders can cost Kenya a lot. Some tribes might ask, “Why us? Why are they naming a leader from our community but not others?” At this point, the ball stops with the media which is expected to set the agenda so that the common people are not incited a second time around.

Currently, many people are still bitter. When I watched Citizen, a local television station, last weekend, a man who had lost all his family was being interviewed live. I sympathised with him. My eyes blinked several times when I looked at the face of the over 30 year-old man. His face was so badly burnt that it's still reddish and he can not take up any job apart from sleeping and eating.

This week, a debate as to whether post poll violence perpetrators should be tried domestically or internationally rages on. Open forums have been used to address issues of democracy for many years now. But there is usually confusion about the people being investigated. After forming commissions using tax payers’ money, the decision makers end up divided when it comes to implementing of final reports.

Early this year I attended a breakfast meeting organized by Youth Agenda, a local civil society. Many issues that lead to post poll violence were raised. Joblessness, anger, media, leaders and the people themselves were thought to be the root causes of all those eruptions.

Personally, I visited two camps and I did not see a radio or even someone listening to one. It later emerged at our discussion that local radio stations were fueling violence by inciting other communities. This may be true, but as professionals we should recognize that the name of the media can be misused. A section of people interpret what they hear in their own way, and they end up having negative feelings.

Well, politicians are alone, making a difference in terms of strong networks trying to block ICC option while common people, who unfortunately turned against each other two years ago, are waiting for politicians to pass reforms which will help speed up justice.

The Presidential elections brought most individuals back to square one. And we had so many prices to pay. Death, rape, hunger and displacement are a few of them. If violence were a business product, it would be the most difficult brand to deal with.



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