A week ago, I sat through two days of discussions on the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, which is in the process of being set up to deal with injustices in the country that date back to the 1960s.
In the course of the deliberations we were shown footage that never made it to your TV screens during the post-election violence that rocked Kenya last year.
In one of the scenes, I watched – with a lurch in my belly – as a gang of youths ruthlessly hacked a victim to death in broad daylight in Nairobi’s Mathare slum. In another, a person was pulled out of a matatu in Naivasha and set upon with machetes until there was no life in him. The body was then doused in gasoline and set alight.
I recall seeing bodies piled in a morgue. Not bodies of adults, but those of innocent children hacked to death by brutes who noticeably gave little regard to the sanctity of guiltless life.
As the footage rolled on, my fellow editors and I said we had seen enough!
One of my contemporaries fittingly suggested that the same footage should be screened to our so-called Honourable Members of Parliament to jolt their conscience… I could not agree more.
This country went through a tumultuous period that brought to the fore deep-seated hatred among some of Kenya’s tribes. There is an argument that it was not just about a ‘stolen’ election. There are issues that have remained unresolved for decades that needed to be dealt with.
Those issues remain unresolved to date. They were simply buried in the sand when the Coalition Government was hastily crafted. What happens when it crumbles come 2011 or 2012? Are we going to slide back to anarchy?
This is a blatant reality.
The country has taken steps to avert a repeat of this scenario through the TJRC but little regard has been given to this process.
I’ve pointed out before that the selection of Commissioners to this critical panel remains shrouded in secrecy – marking a pitiable start to a process that should be open and transparent.
The Kenyan public should and MUST buy into the TJRC for it to become a success. That is the way it worked in South Africa and we need not re-invent the wheel. There are lessons to be learnt and it will take little effort to replicate what happened there.
We need to act on this quickly as 2012 is fast approaching. Unless we deal with the underlying issues such as the land question in the Rift Valley, we are burying our heads in the sand. When 2012 finally dawns, there’s every possibility that what we saw in 2008 could become a pale shadow.
Is that what we want for Kenya?