Building a Cohesive Nation for Posterity

 Remarks by:

Nardos Bekele-Thomas

UN Resident Coordinator,

UNDPResident Representative

10 October 2014

Serena Hotel, Nairobi

Mr. Joseph ole Lenku, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government

 Amb. Dr. Monica Juma, MBS Principal Secretary/ Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government

Canon Peter Karanja, General Secretary, NCCK

 Sheikh Adan Wachu, Chairman, IRCK

 Vimal Shah, Chairman, KEPSA

 S.K. Maina, Secretary, NSC

 H.E. Geert Aagard Anderson, Danish Ambassador to Kenya

 Mohammed Hassan, Commission Secretary, NCIC

 Francis ole Kaparo, Chairman, NCIC

 M.M. Ndung’u, Secretary, National Cohesion and National Values

 All Protocols Observed

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

 It is a great honour and privilege for me to make some remarks on behalf of the United Nations System in Kenya at this momentous launch of the Pamoja Initiative Project bringing together over 100 participants. This is indeed a noble initiative aimed at building collaboration and cohesion in this country of rich diversity.Thisdialogue Forum is a result of the Pamoja Conference on national cohesion and integration held in June 2014, presided over by H.E. the President. A lot of commendable work has been done culminating in today’s official launch of Phase II, the Intra and Inter Community Dialogues Forums.

 I am glad the initiative aims at strengthening cohesion and integration and promotion of national values in Kenya by facilitating dialogue, capacity development, public education and awareness, cohesion monitoring, advocacy, research and media engagement. It is commendable that the communities of focus include religious leaders, elders, women, youth and the private sector. It is important  that other special interest groups, such as persons with disabilities, minorities and marginalised groups are also included.

 Given the rich ethnic diversity of Kenya, there is need to focus on how to dialogue and achieve meaningful national cohesion and integration among various ethnic communities in the country. I believe that one of the most effective ways to achieve sustainable cohesion is through dialogue and open conversation that are inclusive and respect community level and national engagement.We should internalise the words of H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta who yesterday, surrounded by thousands of Kenyans of all walks of life,urged all Kenyans to remain united irrespective of where they come from or their political affiliation and focus on nation building.

 Indeed collaboration is key to the avoidance of violence that Kenya witnessed following the 2007 elections. We should never allow this beautiful country to go through such violence again. As a child who went through the 1974 violence in Ethiopia, I know firsthand the negative impact of such conflicts. I went through very difficult times where I lost close friends and family including my grandparents, our properties were vandalized and many of my friends continue to be affected by the violent activities that we encountered. While some of us have been strong enough to overcome these challenges, many of my friends did not recover and we lost an entire generation. With such an experience, I strongly urge all of you to work tirelessly to ensure that we build a culture of tolerance and cohesion among all tribes in Kenya.

 Distinguished guests and participants,

In support of national cohesion and resilience that guarantees long-term peace the UN is focusing more on crisis prevention, intensifying and expanding support to medium and long-term development programs. Further support is in the area devolution processes, where the UN brings international best practices to county and community-based models of conflict prevention and national resilience-building strategies.

 Additionally, ladies and gentlemen a programme on collaborative leadership that encourages “win-win” situations in addressing the challenges facing Kenya, especially as the devolution process takes shape is being rolled-out. The programme recognises the need for:

 In Conclusion

 Let me reiterate that the United Nation System in Kenya as a whole, stays strongly committed to supporting national efforts to promote a peaceful and cohesive nation as part of a durable infrastructure for peace and stability. Political stability, social cohesion and economic prosperity are the fundamental cornerstones for sustainable development, including realization of Kenya’s Vision 2030.The UN will remain your trusted partner in this process and will continue to tirelessly work with you all for the benefit of the people of Kenya.

 Finally, may I express my gratitude to the partnersin this initiative, notably: the Directorate of National Cohesion and National Values (DNC & NV), National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), Inter Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK), National Steering Committee on Peace Building and Conflict Management (NSC), National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and the Kenya Private Sector Association (KEPSA). Together, we canwork towards “building a cohesive nation for posterity”.

 Thank you and God bless Kenya