The Peace and Voter Ambassadors from the Action Inter-Ethnic Youth Dialogue and Peaceful Reconciliation took a progressive effort when they met the community youth members in Nakuru and Kisumu over the past week in round table youth to youth discussions. The well conceived idea was an inter-county youth sharing with regards to milestones made so far in the peace and reconciliation initiatives. The choice of the county to be visited relied most on the statistics of the year 2008, where the violence witnessed in Kibera (Nairobi County) could only be equated by the one witnessed in Ronda Slums (Nakuru County) and Kondele (Kisumu County). As a matter of fact, and at one particular time in 2008, the government had to issue a curfew in Nakuru because of the wanton destruction of property and the very senseless killings witnessed there.
In the discussions that followed, the Action members shared what can be termed as some of the best practices used to reach out to the community members in the appeal to build and maintain peace. It was very encouraging to note that some practices were widely used by the Nakuru and Kisumu youth too. For instance, members of the Action found it hard during the very beginning to make inroads in Kibera due to the presence of community “gate keepers.” These are a group of individuals who have the belief that they have the final say on what activity should happen in a certain territory of the informal settlements. The Action realized that the Nakuru and Kisumu youth too found it hard in the initial stages to maneuver around these individuals. However, it was realized that constant dialogue and forging useful partnership with the individuals is an effective way of bringing them on board and engaging them in peaceful activities.
|The writer (right) and one of the frequent contributors to this blog, Caroline Chencha.|
Another big challenge that the youth across the counties experienced during their noble quest was the division of Kenyan people along ethnic communities. The rivalry between tribes is such that even in community forums, ethnic identities tend to form from the sitting arrangements to the contributions on subjects discussed. Youth living in these three counties all agreed that it was actually the most significant challenge that if were to be overcame then the peace initiatives could have been easily achieved. The Action employed a strategy of making sure that key ethnic communities living within Kibera and has always been in rivalry; either politically, socially or because of resources, were always invited in forums and be reminded in the beauty of unity in diversity. The Kisumu youth even had an inter-ethnic community theatre show, to showcase the beauty of the coming together as members of the same nation.
The climax of the exchange programme, however, was the discussions on the opportunities available for the youth in the new dispensation. Pursuant to the current constitutional dispensation process, the youth believe that devolution of power has opened a lot of potential opportunities that they can use to their advantage. Since devolution, as envisioned in the constitution, is a people’s owned process with the national objectives towards effective grass root leadership and service delivery to the people, the youth feel that it is now their time to get involved in county government structures through policy formulation and implementation. And while at it, the youth want to enhance the sense of accountability, transparency, maximum participation of the public, self-governance, fair distribution of resources and acquisition of more economic engagement activities.
The youth believe that to take the task ahead, they need the necessary skills for mobilization and advocacy. Currently, a good number of youth are still affected by poverty, unemployment, inadequacy of knowledge and drug and substance abuse, factors which in their final output result to a calibre of youth who are insensitive to the surrounding environment and may so often are committed to engage in disastrous, unlawful and meaningless activities. To this end, the youth need to be reminded to believe that they are energetic hence may be in a position to offer better positive services to their respective communities rather than engage in such vices. The youth need to take education as a serious tool for sustainable development. Information imparted on the youth should be relevant so as to promote their capabilities to be geared towards a more improved approach in giving attention to concerted and coordinated economic, social and political activities.
This project is funded by the European Union