REMARKS

BY

THE REVEREND CANON PETER KARANJA

GENERAL SECRETARY

DURING

THE LAUNCH OF THE PAMOJA INITIATIVE (PHASE II)

ON FRIDAY 10th, OCTOBER 2014

AT

SERENA HOTEL

NAIROBI COUNTY

Theme: Building a Cohesive Nation for Posterity

  1. A.   PRELIMINARIES

Hon. Joseph ole Lenku, Cabinet Secretary, Interior and Co-ordination of National

Hon. Francis ole Kaparo, Chairman, National Cohesion and Integration Commission,

Ambassador Dr. Monica Juma, Principal Secretary, Interior Ministry

Mr. Michael Ndungu, Secretary, Directorate of National Cohesion & National

Values

Fellow Stakeholders,

All Protocols observed,

Ladies and Gentlemen

  1. B.   INTRODUCTION:

Greetings. It is my great pleasure to be present on this strategic and memorable occasion of the official launch of the Phase II of the Pamoja Initiative. This event is the outcome of a joint effort of various stakeholders and patriotic leaders who are determined to journey together in their quest to foster a cohesive, unified and sustainable nation. I therefore thank you all for graciously agreeing to this partnership which gives us the opportunity to engage in a redemptive way in the nurture and support for greater national cohesion and integration of our diverse peoples.

 As we begin this journey, I wish to recognize the hard work and resilience of all those who have in their own unique ways remained focused in this endeavour.

The National Council of Churches of Kenya was jolted into greater action in pursuit of peace by the chaos and destruction occasioned by the disputes around the results of the election of 2007.

 Even though peace work has been a priority in the many years of NCCK’s work, we were shocked by unprecedented scale and spread of the violence. We also noted the political rationalization of the chaos by our politicians and the vulnerability of even well meaning Kenyans in the wake of the violence which called for a new approach towards cohesion work by non-state actors.

 We believe at NCCK that healing the wounds inflicted on Kenyans through the post election violence of 2007/2008 will take a long time and great effort. But it will also take national concerted efforts of people of good will and national institutions to pre-empt the recurrence of such violence.

 C.   THE QUEST FOR NATIONAL COHESION AND INTEGRATION - KENYA’S PERSPECTIVE

 Hon. Lenku, Fellow Stakeholders,

As we all recall, Kenya marked 50 years of independence last year. This was a memorable occasion that brought to the fore memories of our forefathers’ resolve to liberate this great nation from the yoke of colonialism. Their self sacrifice and bravery exemplified the fact that indeed Kenya is one, in spite of our ethnic diversity.

A similar picture of oneness has been witnessed time and again as Kenyans come together to deal with national tragedies and celebrate achievements by our sports men and women. These events are an indicator that no matter how much Kenyan ethnic communities strife and mobilize negatively, there is a great possibility that we can overcome negative ethnicity and indeed celebrate our diversity.

 To progress however in this cohesion building journey, we must openly confront the faulty narratives amongst our peoples and challenge them to pursue solutions to the agreeable difficulties and challenges rather than being frozen in them in time.

 Such difficulties and challenges include political patronage, negative ethnicity, blatant exclusion from decision making and leadership, and socio-economic and cultural injustices that undermine our national fabric. The situation is worsened by the perceived and real insensitivity of successive governments to the needs and aspirations of Kenyans. As a result, our nation is characterized by an inherent mistrust and deep rooted and longstanding grievances which all combine to undermine the cohesion efforts by both state and non-state actors.

 Without rebuilding trust so that the glasses Kenyans wear in evaluating developments in the political arena and economic landscape are changed, even very good initiatives, efforts and services delivered to our peoples will never elicit the joy and hope for a better future  that you would expect from the recipients.

 I therefore underscore this invitation to Kenyans that we must reach out to one another rather than living either in denial or behind our divisive brick walls.

 D.   CONSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK

 Hon. Lenku, Fellow Stakeholders,

The Constitution of Kenya 2010 lays a firm foundation and framework through which we can address the issues that continue to divide Kenyans. Indeed the preamble affirms this by stating: “We the people of Kenya, are proud of our ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, and are determined to live in peace and unity as one indivisible sovereign nation”.

 With this in mind, it is my conviction that we can build one national identity regardless of our multiple identities. We however must strategically plan and position ourselves to use the constitutional framework to achieve meaningful national cohesion. How can we ensure there is a sense of inclusion in national processes? How can we break away from the yoke of ethnic based politics and political intolerance? These remain fundamental questions that we must seek answers for.

 E.   THE PAMOJA INITIATIVE

Hon Lenku, Fellow Stakeholders

In June this year, we held the Pamoja Conference on National Cohesion and Integration. The conference was attended by delegates from all over the country and cohesion experts, and was graced by HE President Uhuru Kenyatta. It was the culmination of a six year peace journey by NCCK dubbed ‘The Pamoja Initiative’. The project was implemented in partnership with various Councils of Elders of different Kenyan communities as a response to the ethnic violence that rocked the country following the 2007 elections. Through this initiative, we have sought to provide safe spaces to various ethnic communities to undertake candid intra and inter community dialogue with a view of building consensus on issues of conflict and mistrust. I am glad to inform you that through the Pamoja Initiative, the communities held various dialogue forums which toned down ethnic animosities between various communities and contributed to the peaceful election in 2013.

 Hon Lenku, Fellow Stakeholders

The Pamoja Conference viewed those forums as a critical milestone in developing common ground for all Kenyans. As highlighted in the video clip you just watched, in February last year, a delegation of 100 elders from various Councils of elders, women and youth leaders, visited Rwanda. The main objective of the visit was to enable the participants to draw vital lessons from that country on how not to handle conflict.  The delegation was able to visit the memorial parks that serve as a constant reminder of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. Drawing from those images, the memories carried back home by the Kenyan delegation helped them to aggressively pursue peace in their respective regions. The Pamoja Conference therefore not only provided an opportunity for the delegates to reflect and leverage on the gains made this far but also challenged participants to discuss possibilities of scaling up the engagement down to the Coutry level.

 F.    THE PAMOJA PARTNERSHIP

Hon. Lenku, Fellow Stakeholders,

We are here today owing to resolutions adopted by delegates during The Pamoja Conference of June 2014. Among other things, the delegates resolved that:

(i)                In order to adequately address cohesion and integration in the country, we must consolidate our efforts through an expanded partnership for concerted synergies and optimization of resources available for greater impact.

(ii)             Institute a deliberate process of building the emotional connection between Kenyans and the sense of nationhood.

(iii)           Organize dialogue forums so that Kenyans can have the opportunity to address the issues that divide us and together build on what unites us.

 I am aware that as we officially begin phase II of the Pamoja Initiative, we are bound to encounter challenges along the way. In this regard, I appeal to you to always remember that we have a bigger objective of uniting the country. That objective and the anticipated joy of putting our differences behind should be our guiding principle in pursuit of this great mission.

This initiative therefore seeks to build synergies across all sectors and engage with communities from all counties. We shall seek to help communities reflect on and find solutions to conflicting and competing ethnic interests that continue to impede the achievements of national cohesion.

 As we pursue this conversation through the county fora, our progress should be a tribute to all those who have endeavoured to see Kenya through lenses of peace, unity and justice. The Pamoja Initiative will seek to address emerging issues that threaten cohesion and integration in this country by challenging communities to take responsibility and work towards building the Kenya we want rather than merely continue mourning.

 G.  CONCLUSION:

In Conclusion I wish to once again thank all of you for being part of this launch that opens the doors to this project over the next 3 years. NCCK remains committed to this processes and will undertake to help mobilize resources to achieve this noble cause. I am confident that through this engagement, we can achieve more for the sake of the current and future generations. Let us break the vicious cycle of mistrust and conflict that undermines our national fabric. Let us tackle this complex subject and prove that reconciliation is achievable and not just a mere mirage. I look forward to robust County forums. It is now my pleasure to welcome my brother Sheikh Adan Wachu to make his remarks. God bless you!

 Thank You!