Building Bridges peace initiative has to be inclusive, participatory

Friday January 4 2019

This is to the drivers of the Building Bridges Initiative: You should also carry peace in you. You cannot construct a bridge of peace if your backyard is stinking with hate, tribalism, tribal clashes, discrimination and political rivalry.

Most of us have learnt to suppress the impulses of hate, anxiety and love, reproducing memories of situations in many bad ways.

It’s my utmost prayer that each one of you carry something personal to share with other committee members.

What are you bringing of a traditional, ethical, moral value from your community to share with others?

I want to think good in each one of you, in good faith, that you have no political interest in this endeavour whatsoever.

You were chosen because you have lived in Kenya and witnessed the great things that the nation has gone through unfold.

YOUTH

Remember, the future that you are building has to connect with the young people.

That strong, wasted force that is mobilised every five years with a few shillings to become a danger to everyone, including themselves.

If youth are not involved, sorry, but the committee will be collecting water with a basket and expecting to fill a water tank.

We have more than 40 tribes in Kenya, but the country seems to be fixated on the top three, as if the rest don’t matter. They want to be part of this discussion.

Peace building starts when my grandmother (and fellow seniors) can engage and become part of the dialogue. Involve youth in the dialogue and allow them to say how they feel about the initiative.

ETHNICITY

Detach yourselves from tribal associations, however much you have a tribe at the end of the day.

Be transparent in your dealings, don’t say one thing as a group and another in your tribal barazas in your villages, which does not create cohesion.

Peace builders have to be God-fearing — not necessarily belonging to any institutionalised, structured hierarchy — and respectful of the people.

Involve women; they do a lot of behind-the-scenes work when it comes to peace initiatives.

Kenyans have to be educated right from kindergarten and up to the highest institutions of learning that peace is a lifelong process, which goes beyond five years or a two-term presidency.

COMMITMENT

Institutions should not be tribalised, and the national map should not only be on paper, but felt in every ministry.

The 'Agenda Four' issues should be addressed concretely; same as the ethics and integrity chapter. These should not be politicised or polarised.

Stop the board meetings in Nairobi; get down to peace talks, even on social media platforms, create a concrete day to celebrate national diversity.

Lastly, be patriotic: Bridge builders never write their names on it.

Fr Joseph Baptist Nyamunga, Italy. @omuhulundu