This is the third blog I am writing on the restorative process that I believe Kenya desperately needs, before the year of our lord 2012.
Mid last year, I visited the Nakuru ASK showground where thousands of Kenyans were living in squalor after being ejected from their farms at the height of the post-election violence.
One of the couples I met told a harrowing tale about how their eldest son was shot in the back with an arrow. They carried him – with the arrow still lodged in his back for an agonising four days – to Nakuru, where he died on the door steps of the district hospital.
When I met the family, the couple was occupying a single tent with their six remaining children. None of the youngsters was more than 15 years of age.
I naively asked if they were ready to return to their farm once the government facilitated their re-settlement. This is the response I got from the woman known as Nyaguthie. “You want me to take these remaining children to be killed when elections are held in 2012? I am willing to lose the farm (20 acres of it) and live as a squatter anywhere else!”
She asked me how I expected her to go back and live with the people who killed her son (her next door neighbours).
I have compassion for Nyaguthie and keep wondering what became of her and her family. It is people like her that I think of, when I say Kenya needs healing – without further delay.
There has been a furore following the appointment of the TJRC last week, and want to draw everyone’s attention to a blog I wrote on June 22. At the time, I expressed concern that the appointment of the TJRC commissioners was being done in secrecy.
No one appeared to pay much attention, until of course the President made the appointments and activists were up in arms. This is too little too late… The time to reject (or approve) the appointments was before Parliament ratified the nominees.
At the time, I pointed out that the integrity of the individuals to head this all-important institution would determine the triumph (or failure) of the TRJC.
I have seen comments made against Bethuel Kiplagat’s appointment but the man has defended himself (and shed tears in the process). I dare say there are very few individuals who can fit the bill when it comes to heading such a commission.
Where were the organisations and individuals opposed to his appointment when they had the opportunity to test his suitability for the appointment? Kenyans have perfected the art of rejecting anything and everything without regard to due process.
Kenya frantically needs to kick-start this healing process. After watching proceedings of the South African Truth Commission, I realised that some people just need a forum where they can tell their story… others want to know where the bodies of their kin were buried during oppressive regimes; others want to come face to face with the perpetrators of whatever heinous crimes were committed. Others want to hear the confessions and then, and only then, can they forgive the perpetrators.
It is possible to forgive. But forgiveness comes after one owns up to their mistakes. I want to say (for the third time) that we need to give healing and reconciliation a chance. We need to nurse Kenya back to health long before 2012.