Thursday, June 25, 2009

WAJIBU: Public Debate, 2 July

WAJIBU is a quarterly journal that has been published in Kenya since 1985. It is unique among Kenyan journals in that it has consistently focused on social, economic, political and ethical issues that are topical, relevant and of common concern. It has invited a wide variety of thinkers, coming from many different backgrounds to contribute to the debate on these issues. WAJIBU is also special in not-for-profit journals in that it has managed to be published for now nearly 24 years without regular donor funding.

Each issue of Wajibu addresses a different theme; previous issues have focused on the environment, the role of women, education, characteristics of good leaders, work ethics and working conditions, the role of NGOs in development, the lifestyle of the young, crime and punishment, globalisation, the information society, ingredients of a just society, memory and identity, values for a planet in turmoil.

We at WAJIBU wish to invite you to a public debate on a topic of concern to us all.

Since the events brought about by the 2007 election fiasco, there have been many voices in Kenya calling for a complete change of direction in our country. At the same time there have been calls for all Kenyans of good will to come together and provide alternative leadership.
However, there is no consensus of how change is to be brought about and who will provide the alternative leadership.

Might active non-violence be an answer and help us on the road towards a just society?
We invite you to join us in this debate.

Towards a just society in Kenya: non-violent options

*Date: 2 July 2009, 6.00 pm.
Place: Goethe Institut, Loita/Monrovia streets

Speakers: Mwalimu Mati, Philo Ikonya
Moderator: Paul Oyier
If you should be unable to attend, please become a subscriber, renew your subscription if you are already a subscriber, subscribe for a friend, a school or an institution or make a donation to assure the future of the journal.

Current and previous issues of the journal will be for sale at the function.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Regaining Trust: Our Challenge

Recently I went through the Rift Valley attending several workshops on peace-building among the communities that were hard hit by the post election violence. The good thing was that this was not your usual workshop crowd but rather the average Kenyan, people who were both victims and perpetrators of the violence. One thing that hit me was when one participant in Nakuru said that one of the effects of the violence was that communities have lost trust in one another. If this is truly the case, then I am worried for our future...but again I am not surprised.

I can however say that I am disappointed at the lack of urgency in addressing this fundamental issue. How can we live with each other if we don't trust each other? While this a situation that your typical Kenyan politician will relish, as they can play on our fears for the sake of garnering votes, it takes a scary dimension when one considers a recent research finding by Media Focus on Africa that stated that a significant number of people are ready and willing to fight again. This is corroborated by sentiments in one of the workshops where some participants stated that next time they will get rid of all the Kikuyus in their area, while in yet another workshop, a lady participant said that she could not believe that she is actually seated in the same room with members from another community that had chased her from where she previously lived during the violence of early last year. It took a lot of pleading from other workshop participants to cool her down.

I don't have the answers to what needs to be done, but this is something that we all need to ponder about.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Inter-Tribal Dialogue...Pushing Agenda 4

Media Focus on Africa Foundation is currently running a program on Citizen TV called Fist To Five for Change. Hosted by Julie Gichuru, the program is supposed to be providing a platform for inter-tribal dialogue, addressing some of the root causes of the post election violence and exploring solutions, all from a wananchi point of view. The good thing with this program is that all the participants are your common wananchi and it avoids the usual politicians or experts who we are so used to seeing on the idiot box. The project runs a rotation of three programs, with each set of three programs looking at underlying issues and proposing solutions. The first program featured people from Kibera and Mathare slums and the one currently showing features participants from Nakuru and Naivasha. Other programs will involve participants from Eldoret, Kisumu and Mombasa.

It is indeed refreshing to watch your kawaida wananchi express issues in a plain language that mainstream personalities in the media avoid tackling head on. Participants will say in plain terms "Kikuyus are like this and this...or Luos are like this and this..." etc. However one issue I have against the program is the use of Julie Gichuru as it's anchor. Maybe the producers wanted a star name to attract viewers but given her obvious limitation of swahili, it forces the participants to struggle to express themselves in English and you feel something is lost. A Swahili facilitator would be ideal for this.

Of interest also is that Media Focus is taking episodes of this program on the road. They have engaged FilmAid International to conduct 48 mass outdoor screenings in Kibera, Mathare, Nakuru, Naivasha, Mumias, Kisumu, Eldoret and Mombasa, as well as a series of 48 one day workshops in these locations, basically to provide a forum for people from different tribes to debate issues on conflict resolution. It is good to note that despite perceived government apathy or lack of urgency, there are others who are taking agenda 4 seriously.