By Dr.David Matsanga in United Kingdom
On my birthday I have decided to add value to the current debate of reconciliation. I will leave a legacy for the people of Kenya to show that I once stood by them. I am very impressed with the record of redemption in Kenya .
This introductory part is informed by a series of disturbing political developments in Kenya for the last few years. Going forward, this paper will explain more about what Kenya needs to do .I will be able to explain in deeper detail what needs to be done and by who in order to prevent political differences from putting the country into a full blown conflict.
Redemption strategy is a comprehensive methodical approach to conflict resolution, conflict prevention, peacebuilding and establishing lasting mutual solutions to parties involved. Redemption strategy is an intellectual exercise as well as a practical one informed by diverse and unique circumstances of the problem (s) at hand.
In solving problems, redemption strategy employs both traditional and modern approaches such as mediation, arbitration, conciliation, negotiation and litigation. Depending on the nature of conflict either of the approaches or a combination of them can be applied. Conflict resolution mostly applies in situations where a real fight between rival parties or where the escalation of hostilities portends the likely breakup of war.
Redemption strategy encapsulates all the above tools and further includes education, early warning signals, and mass sensitization as an intervention and preventive measures.
This approach is what is required in Kenya at the moment.
Redemption strategy works in before, during and even in post-conflict situations to enhance the cathartic process. This is in recognition that healing is not instant coffee…it is a process of deliberate submission, forgiveness, truth, and trust.
In dealing with conflict situations, it’s imperative that the neutrality of the moderator is vital if the process has to produce a credible outcome. However, the moderator is not precluded from reprimanding a dishonest party who breaches mutually agreed rules of engagement or defaults on declaration of principles.
REDEMPTION STRATEGY attempts to look at various types of situations where the strategy would work.A dispute is a disagreement or argument where each of the disputing parties strive to win. When there’s no intervention it escalates to a full-blown conflict.
A conflict is a serious, protracted disagreement. If not properly handled through reconciliation or mediation it leads to a worse situation. Disputes and conflicts range from family issues to clan, ethnic, religious or even national disagreements. Most national differences arise as a result of political discourse and competition.
When the political class plays brinkmanship and begin to incite the population the result could be war and may lead to any of the following.
Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity. The three are crimes under international law and well covered by the Rome Statute.
GENOCIDE in simple terms is the deliberate and systematic extermination of a large group of people of a particular nation, ethnic group, race or religion etc.CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY refer to specific crimes committed in the context of large scale targeting civilians. Such crimes include murder, sexual violence, enslavement, enforced disappearance, persecution etc.
WAR CRIMES is an act that violates international humanitarian law, one that constitutes a serious violation of laws of war and gives rise to criminal responsibility.
Kenya has had experience at the ICC where individuals were charged with crimes against humanity at The Hague. However, all the cases came to an abrupt end and the accused persons were rightly discharged for lack of sufficient evidence. It’s a battle we fought with fearless determination, resilience, and conviction.
In a nutshell, redemption strategy is a philosophy which seeks to prevent situations from reaching the level of full-blown conflicts or the level of international crimes.
Similarly, redemption strategy is vital in helping societies that have experienced such situations go through a healing process. The healing process may include, the pursuit of justice in courts of law, redress of inequalities through the passage of legislation in Parliament and institutional framework, Truth, Justice and Reconciliation mechanisms, restoration of rights, mediation, conciliation, etc.
As Kenya went to 2013 General Election, the nation was still traumatized by the activities of 2007/08 post-election violence and some Kenyans were facing charges at the ICC. It was a difficult period for the country. Going to the 2017 elections the echoes of ICC were still in the air. The country has never really exorcised the ghosts of PEV. Some form of honest national conversation is required to prevent the country from sliding into violence because of politics.
The national conversation, a look in the mirror, and retracing of steps is what Kenya needs in order to build a truly united, peaceful and stable country. The BBI is the way out to look at all positions.
Most of the conflicts are political in nature. That means they are as a result of competition for political power. This arises when a candidate refuses to accept election results on the basis that the election has been rigged when an incumbent President refuses to cede power to an opponent who has clearly won the vote, military coup, civilian uprising, or when a politician organizes and invites tribal passions as a platform to get into power.
I have witnessed all these situations across Africa. Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Malawi, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Zimbabwe etc. The work of conflict resolution experts should be proactive, which means the ability to discern early warning signs and endeavor to take preventive measures.
This involves engagement with the political actors, the involvement of religious leaders, the security, progressive civil society groups, international organizations, the press, and more importantly the youth who are used as raw materials in wars caused by politicians.
A conflict resolution expert is a high priest on the pulpit of peace, reconciliation, unity and tolerance. He preaches using holy books of all religions, traditional knowledge and modern education. He works round the clock tirelessly. He also runs the risk of being the punching bag of one or parties to a conflict. Therefore one has to have the intellectual stamina, emotional intelligence and psychological strength to successfully navigate conflicting parties to a solution.
In the current Kenyan situation, there’s an absolute need for politicians to tone down campaign rhetoric, shun divisive language, and class division of the population. It’s not too late if politicians heeded the voice of the president and religious leaders police should also deal with cases of incitement without fear or favor. Those of us working as peace ambassadors will not allow our voices to be silenced.
This last phase of REDEMPTION STRATEGY deals with what needs to be done in Kenya for REDEMPTION STRATEGY to take root.
There’s a certain school of thought that believes crime is a result of poverty and unemployment.
To a large extent, this thinking is right especially when viewed in the context of poverty stricken slums. The crime rate in slums is extremely high as compared to the middle class and upper-class estates.
Despair among the unemployed urban and rural youth is an existential threat to national security. This is because this group has nothing to lose and they are the ones politicians exploit to cause political violence. The government of Kenya needs to use the BBI and come up with sustainable systems of empowerment of young people economically through SMEs and other forms of employment.
The danger is that police have tried to enforce the law on incitement to the letter without fear or favor but the political class in Kenya has not seen the need to comply. Judicial action by the courts is always not equivalent to the crime of incitement. The Government must be ruthless when it comes to incitement to violence.
Kenya has what one calls National Cohesion Commission which is a constitutional body charged with creating national unity and dealing with political incitement. The commission should be seen on the ground preaching peace through workshops, seminars and rallies. They should identify the negative ethnicity that bastardize the nation without mincing their words and without sparing anybody regardless of position.
Politicians should abandon the culture of eternal campaigns. There’s time for everything, time for campaigns, and time to work for wananchi.
Peace and unity studies should be considered as part of the curriculum going forward.
This is important in equipping young Kenyans against being used to cause violence by selfish politicians. It will also give them identity first as Kenyans before tribe.
Religious leaders must stop the habit of converting the church pulpit into a platform for political wrestling. There’s a need to respect the sanctity of God’s altar and protecting the same from contamination by divisive political narratives. The church should be the haven for peace and unity.
Scholars and opinion shapers must speak with one voice against the mediocrity of tribal incitement. The role of media in giving a platform to peace ambassadors as well as dissemination of messages of unity while blocking inciters cannot be gainsaid.
Justice and fairness in the distribution of the national cake and provision of opportunities will ensure inclusion and a sense of belonging. To this end, the BBI will close ranks in one way or the other.
In African culture, elders play a vital role in society….settling disputes, identification of boundaries, initiation of young generations and more importantly ensuring the existence of peace among neighbouring communities.
The Government should encourage many tribal interactions. The recent visit by Kikuyu elders to Bondo is a good example. Let the country witness more communal elders visiting different communities and preaching peace, cohesion and intermarriages. Such visits don’t have to be political but for purposes of REDEMPTION.
The People of Kenya have a role to play in making Kenya a better home for all of them and the best destination for the entire world family. The only way out it using BBI as a means of Redemption strategy create HEALING IN KENYA
GOD BLESS KENYA
The writer is a Political Scientist and International Relations with Conflict Resolution Expert bias, an investigative Journalist and a Pan African based in Surrey London, the United Kingdom.
Twitter @Dr.David Matsanga