Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenya: Why I'm Convinced the Next Polls Will Be Peaceful

opinion

Three incidences have happened this week that assure me that Kenya's next elections will be peaceful.

The first is a news report about how William Ruto was called to account for perceptions of his role in the 2007 election-related violence meted out against members of the Kisii community by members of his Kalenjin community.

A widow whose husband was murdered during the 2007 violence stood up as he explained why the Kisii community should let go of any bitterness they might hold against him because of these issues, and support his presidential campaign. She basically told him, to his face, that it is too early for him to seek her vote, especially considering those behind her husband's murder are still free.

An un-named widow I hereby christen 'Wanjiku', took a previously unchallenged politician head-on, in a meeting he had organised. As much as I am sure Ruto will be a lot more prepared in future meetings, this incidence is a lesson to any leader seeking national political office. 'Wanjiku' is putting you on notice that 'she' is no longer subservient to you.

We are not scared of you; or your money; or even your security and/or your 'boys'. When you invite us to your meetings to ask for our votes, be prepared to be challenged 'hadharani' (publicly) on issues about you that we might have a problem with. Prepare comprehensively for public interrogation especially where you have public issues around you; whether real or perceived, or be publicly humiliated.

The second incident also concerns Ruto. It is an article written about this legislator by Jackson Kibor, and carried by 'The Star' weekend edition. Kibor essentially 'scolded' Ruto for trying to use the entire Kalenjin community as a tool to pursue his personal political interests, and/or wage a personal war against his political opponents.

Kibor told Ruto off as an elder of the Kalenjin community, and declared publicly that Kalenjin interests will never be subordinate to an individual, whoever he is.

First let me admit that I personally do not like Kibor much, because of comments attributed to him during the 2007 post election violence directed at members of the Kikuyu community.

I am also not as interested in the credibility of the assertions he made about Ruto. What interests me is that a highly respected elder amongst the Kalenjin has spoken out against Ruto's attempts to crown himself the political 'King' of the Kalenjin.

Those who follow my writings know that I am completely convinced that the key to tackling negative ethnicity is to deal with it inside out; i.e. where members of respective communities are the first to tell of those of their own, for perpetuating tribalism.

The fact that a man I do not necessarily agree with can do so clearly indicates this message is being received by more and more Kenyans. It is also comforting to those of us in KikuyusforChange who have been accused of being overly biased in tackling our own ethnic chieftains, to see others doing the same with their own.

My prayer is that as we head to the general elections we will see a lot more individuals from within each community doing the same, to their own leaders.

The third incident is the launch of the Mkenya Solidarity Movement political party over the weekend. I was the guest master of ceremonies so I had a front-row seat in what was an amazing political event.

It was incredible to watch close to 50,000 young people solemnly declare that henceforth they will use their numerical strength at the ballot under a legally established political organization, to pursue their interests.

What no one was admitting aloud (except on social media) was that to most of us this multitude of young people in Kamukunji are the same young people we fear so much because of security issues, especially in Central province. These are the people who were orderly and peaceful as they declared their patriotism; in a public ground of historical significance, with absolutely no visible police presence.

These were the young men who loudly proclaimed to the Central Kenya region; the nation and the entire world, that never again will they be used as tools by unscrupulous unpatriotic politicians, to cause regional or national chaos.

I felt so proud to have been part of such a momentous occasion and I can only wish GG Kariuki and Maina Njenga all the best as they lead Mkenya Solidarity Movement into the political arena this general elections. I can imagine these unemployed young Kenyans putting their own into Ward, Constituency, County and National Leadership. They certainly would be a different breed from what we have.

Add this to the Mombasa Peace Forum by the political and economic leaders, the work of various government and non-governmental agencies around national peace and cohesion since 2007, etc; and you have to accept that a lot of positive things are happening that were not happening prior to 2007.

The next elections will certainly be peaceful.

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