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.


  1. Those peace initiatives need to address reasons for mistrust amongst neighbouring communities. And the hard realities faced whether they are painful, or as bitter as gall.

    It is by addressing the reasons albeit continued peace initiative that we will need not worry.

  2. One senses a reluctance to open up and honestly face up to these reasons. On one side is the fact that people don't want to speak out of turn and be seen to be politically incorrect, so you sense that one is not really speaking one's mind. On the other hand there is a perceived need not to say something that will offend others, so you keep quite. For example nobody in the workshop will say that the Kikuyu community in general have not voted for a person from another community for president since the introduction of multi-party politics but during the tea break, in small groups people will be busy discussing this!