Mount Kenya University (MKU) in collaboration with other partners, has created a peace consortium to promote peace across the country.
The institution has pumped in Sh5 million as its founder, Prof Simon Gicheru, urged more partners to join the African Consortium For Peace (AC4P).
This was revealed during a two-day International Conference on Peace, Security and Social Enterprise for Sustainable Development where scholars from across the globe discussed and presented over 100 papers on fostering peace.
Prof Gicheru noted that lack of peace in a country affects the education sector as most families are affected citing the post-election skirmishes in that rocked the country following the disputed presidential results of the 2007 elections.
"During that time we were badly affected. We lost about 3, 000 students who left the university and never came back while ten of our students lost their parents in the violence," he said.
The consortium, he said, will not only champion peace in Kenya but is intended to also serve the continent as a think tank for the advancement of peace, shared security and sustainable development as well.
“This consortium will be a practical-based outfit with the extensive interaction with diverse groups from different communities on specific prioritized projects with the twin aims of promoting peace and security in addition to creating innovative job opportunities for the youth,” he said.
It is expected that the consortium will come up with policies on peace, security and sustainable development, create strategic partnerships, carry out collaborative research as well as produce publications on fostering peace on the continent and beyond.
MEDIA NOT PATRIOTIC
And as the country heads towards elections campaigns, the media has been asked to be more responsible in their coverage and stop airing or publishing news that could cause conflicts.
Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery said he was concerned about images and stories in sections of the media explaining that journalists should peg their stories in such a manner that does not provoke violence.
“Sometimes our media is not patriotic enough, or actually most of the times. You should be just, fair and speak the truths that advance the agenda of the country,” he said.
Former Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) boss Patrick Lumumba said that media has been ‘very irresponsible’.
“Sometimes it wasn’t about communities fighting, it might have been two drunks fighting,” he added on his analogy.
“The Kenyan media has been corrupted and are now being used to advance the interests of certain people. You should be patriotic, free, fair and speak the truth that advances our national agenda,” he said.
But Nation Media Group’s Editor-in-Chief Tom Mshindi however said that while there have been shortcomings, the media has done a fairly good job and will continue to do so.
“In conflict, the media is involved both positively and negatively, but we will do a good job as we are ready for that,” said Mr Mshindi.
He added that the Nation Media Group, which is among the partners who teamed up with Mount Kenya University to organise the conference, is passionate about peace as one of the agendas it champions.
Prof Gicheru noted that while MKU are pioneers of the consortium, the membership of the body will be extended to all universities and other organisations that share the common goal of promoting peace.
He also noted that in the 21st century, the perennial security threats are very dynamic and need to be looked at broadly and keenly, not just for the country but in the whole world as well.
“There is therefore urgent need to identify the roots behind this trend in our globalised society. The need for community engagement and collaborative peace interventions is critical in achieving durable peace,” he said.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery who officially opened the event, called the conference and the subsequent creation of the consortium “timely” as Kenya is heading towards elections, saying the country usually faces security threats during the period.
“We are going into elections and violence is being witnessed in areas not seen before. We must work to remain peaceful,” he said adding that all state security agents are well prepared to handle security and maintain peaceful elections.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) on Thursday said that tribalism in Kenya increases among those with high levels of education.
“Today in Kenya, ethnicity increased with education. That should worry us because it means the more educated you are, the more tribal you are,” said Commissioner Gitile Naituli, during a presentation on peace at the conference.
The discussion that was majorly dominated by scholars also explored education as a key component of promoting peace, where Prof Morris Amutabi the Lukenya Uviveristy Vice Chancellor said that even the naming of universities along tribal lines creates tensions in that the communities around them feel entitled to them.
“You will find that in such institutions the staff or even the students comprise 70 per cent of that community,” he said.
But Mr Charles Mwaniki from the Ministry of Education said the government has been committed towards education as a tool for promoting peace and has rolled out successful programmes in schools on the same.
“Peace education is gaining traction as a strong measure to break cycles of violence in the world,” he said.