Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya

by Transforming Community for Social Change
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Responding to Deadly Conflicts in Western Kenya
Mobilized voters in a political campaign rally
Mobilized voters in a political campaign rally

Request: We at Transforming Communities for Social Change would appreciate contributions to support our peace-making efforts before the August 9th 2022 Kenyan election.

Before the August 9th 2022 Kenyan election political leader have asked voters to accept bribes from the various candidates, but then vote for the best person. The law in Kenya states that, while it is illegal for a candidate to give a bribe, it is not clear if it is illegal for the voter to receive the bribe as long as it does not influence his or her vote!

Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd edition, written by Henry, defines voter bribery ‘as an offence committed by one who gives or promises or offers money or any valuable inducement to an elector in order to corruptly induce the latter to vote in a particular way or to abstain from voting or as a reward to the voter for having voted in a particular way or abstained from voting

Bribing of voters is currently rampant everyone does it and so it sounds normal considering that many electorate believe that it’s their time to eat.

In a close election, the winner might be just that person who bribed a little more than his/her opponent. Another concern is the inverse: Voters will not vote for a person who has not given them a bribe. Therefore it is impossible for a “clean” reform candidate to win. Psychologically when candidates have given voters bribes, they feel that they no longer “owe” the voters anything because they have already paid them. This then leads to corruption as the candidates feels that he has to reimburse himself of the expenses he/she put into the campaign. Bribing is everywhere. With current economic situation sugar.

In this elections we have six positions, Since the smallest note is 50 shillings (50 US cents) and one cannot bribe with coins, this is the smallest possible bribe depending on with electoral position one is looking for; in this case the sixth position is for a presidential candidate who would us around 1000shillings (US $10)

During the day of the 2022 primary elections one of our citizen reporters from Mt. Elgon commented that there was no working in farms that day because everyone was lined up on the road to receive bribes from the various candidates. Polling stations have large numbers of people standing around outside waiting for their payoff. Clearly it is to the benefit of those who have received the bribe to not acknowledge that they have received it and certainly they would never claim that it influenced their vote.

Nonetheless the practice has negative consequences. The high turnout for both the primary and general elections could be due to the fact that the voters are expecting to receive  a considerable  number of bribes so that Election Day is a “profitable day’s work.”  Every losing candidate claims, quite correctly, that he/she lost because the winner bribed the voters.

In the recently completed primary for this election, a losing candidate who had spent a considerable amount of money on bribes in a community that ended up not voting for him, when he noticed defeat he hired some thugs to destroy nomination paper and election materials.

More serious was the case in Bungoma County in the 2012 election where a losing candidate hired thugs who killed eleven people and wounded over 100 more in three villages where he had spent considerable sums on bribes but did not receive many votes. The villagers were irate, cornered and tortured one young man who they believed (probably incorrectly since outsiders are usually the ones brought in to create violence since they don’t know the victims) was one of the thugs. Under torture he gave the names of nine other youth and the community lynched all ten people. Transforming Communities for Social Change, would like to conduct voter education sessions on Leadership and integrity, reporting malpractices in election process, eradicating corruption and bribery during this electioneer period.

Voters  receiving bribes
Voters receiving bribes
Hired goons used to destroy election materials
Hired goons used to destroy election materials
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Participants from South Sudan, Congolese, Burundi
Participants from South Sudan, Congolese, Burundi

The post coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has profoundly affecting life around the Refugee camp. Isolation, contact restrictions and economic shutdown impose a complete change to the psychosocial environment in the camp. These measures have the potential to threaten the peace work we have done in the refugee camp. Even though the current crisis can bring with it opportunities for resilience, disadvantages may outweigh these benefits. Anxiety, lack of contact due to lockdowns and reduced opportunities to interact are main concerns. Another main threat is an increased risk for complete shutdown on condition of healing that help in people recover from trauma, domestic violence and re-experiencing trauma.

Like crossing the river, we help participants work together towards a common goal of healing from trauma. In a six day training in the refugee camp we manage to train 48 refugee from South Sudan from Nuer and Dinka who for many years have been two rival pastoralist groups back at home, Congolese and Burundians in two different Healing and Rebuilding our Community(HROC) basic trainings.

By the end of three days participants identify their source of strength and the wisdom they have gained through difficult life experience during Covid-19 pandemic through which they see themselves and one another as resilient human being using available resources of strength that can help them cope with any situation.

“The world almost came to an end when Covid-19 was reported to us, we knew we will died in this foreign country after running from war in our mother country South Sudan, we thank the healing companions from HROC who visited us and accompanied us during the difficult times of Covid-19 pandemic and also recommended us for this training. Today I find inner strength to share my loss and decide to go on with the help of others in the camp”

“It is in this training that I have been given time to express my feelings, the facilitator gave me a tissue when I was overwhelmed by emotions, I felt I was not alone, I feel i have removed a heavy burden on my head”

While the above testimonies many not be easy for everyone, for some the trauma is buried so deep and is so horrifying that it is almost impossible to put words to it, there seems to be an almost universal truth that human beings need to find means for expressing, remembering and releasing horrible experience in order to heal.

The training helped the wounded people develop that inner power and begin to truly listen to others including perpetrators, at the end of the training they discover that though it is difficult, there is the potential for further and deeper healing as a results thus healing communities are created.

participants in Trauma Resilience training
participants in Trauma Resilience training
Participant blindfold during trust walk exercise
Participant blindfold during trust walk exercise
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Kids below 12 years with father Christmas
Kids below 12 years with father Christmas

Every year December 24th we climb Mount Elgon, a region that is a massive solitary volcanic mountain on the border of eastern Uganda and western Kenya. Its cooler heights offer respite for humans from the hot plains below, and its higher altitudes provide a refuge for flora and fauna.

Last year Christmas celebrations occur on December 23 and 24 at the Chepyuk Peace Centre. Activities for the two days were organized by the Transforming Community for Social Change (TCSC) volunteers

The first day was dedicated to the adolescence teenagers between the ages of 12-18, with experts in teenager’s matters of Academic and carrier choice, Self-esteem, health concerns and reproductive health, Depression, Menstruation, Cyber bullying, early pregnancy, Substance abuse and sexual transmitted diseases.

On day two all the 1000 children receive a nutritious meal, school supplies for the coming school year, and 5 months’ supply of sanitary napkins for girls over 12 years of age.

Many Children from poor families on Mt. Elgon have never had a possibility of celebrating Christmas. Last year over 1000 children attended the 2021 celebration. TCSC volunteers had an opportunity to organize healthy activities for these children including ball games, dancing competition, rope jumping and plenty of gifts from Father Christmas. Most of beneficiaries of the event were orphans and vulnerable children of Mt Elgon in Kenya. The event is getting bigger hopefully this year 2022 we may have more than 1000 kids coming

TCSC volunteer in the teenagers training
TCSC volunteer in the teenagers training
Kids playing at the peace center grounds
Kids playing at the peace center grounds
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The deputy county commissioner, security team,
The deputy county commissioner, security team,

A chief in Chepyuk village, Mt Elgon was found dead, the mutilated body with stabs wounds on the head and neck, his body was discovered in a maize plantationburied in a shallow grave three kilometres from his homestead and 100 metres from our peace centre, His clothes and phone were found burnt beside his body, the body was discovered by a resident near Mt Elgon peace centre in the expansive Chepyuk Settlement Scheme in Kopsiro Sub-County.

          Characterized by great anger residents stormed a local illicit brew den and torched houses that they suspected harboured the people who might have killed him. The locals also burned several houses that were around the place where his body was found. The four suspects including two men and two women are believed to have cooperated with others who police are still pursuing. Residents also killed one suspect who is believed to have hoodwinked the chief into his killing, Tension gripped residents of Mt Elgon sending panic, fear and tension among locals who now fear for their security.

In the event of such crisis, TSCS will always find ways of intervening through community dialogues which uses interactive participatory communication process of sharing information between conflicting parties or groups of people aimed at reaching a common understanding and workable solution. Through this intervention the key outcomes of community dialogue will help change in behaviour, knowledge, attitude and beliefs.

Since it was a local administrator who had dead, we first worked closely with security personnel from the region, peace committee and the church leaders to address community members to maintain peace

 

In the dialogue forums with 140 stakeholders we addressed conflict resolution mechanisms that comprise of social whereby human beings in a society interact and live together and uphold to the rule of law, if empower economically social concerned with the production of food, distribution of resources, and consumption of goods and services will definitely change cultural customs and social behaviour of a society by acknowledging the cultural diversity. We initiated negotiations with the families affected, mediations and reconciliation based on the knowledge, customs and history of the people of Mt. Elgon towards conflict resolution aim at restorative justice and restoration of order, harmony and the maintenance of relationships within the community through reintegrating conflicting parties for true reconciliation.

 

Lesions learnt

 

The active role of the Deputy County commissioner and our peace committee in the dialogues help to provide a source of assurance of some level of community ownership. These leaders also answered security questions and we provided basic knowledge of peace.

 

The presence of the bereaved family was an approach used by TSCS to demonstrate empathy and standing in solidarity with family

 

 The dialogues opened and closed with prayers invited the aspect of spirituality amongst member present, peace and the word of God has worked out well in our ministry

The timely intervention by TCSC deescalated violence and through the dialogue the mountain returned to calmness

the scene where the chief's body was buried
the scene where the chief's body was buried
A prayer after a pre dialogue meeting in Chepyuk
A prayer after a pre dialogue meeting in Chepyuk
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The Covid-19 pandemic has been a threat to the health of many, a lot of people have lost their beloved once in the last one year moreover the pandemic had other consequences that included curfew, lockdowns, travel restrictions, loss of jobs and school closure. In this situation   violence has been triggered easily in families, a father in Kaptama village of Mt Elgon assaulted his son to death for stealing ten shillings that was meant to buy paraffin, and mother in chepyuk village gave birth and throw her child in a pit latrine, the children was saved by the community members and woman is on the run, Erustas  our conduct in Mt Elgon is currently hosting the eleven-month baby. This and many other scenarios shows how people are frustrated and easily getting into violence that may eventually lead to trauma.

          Participants are always helped to create and learn cultures of peace through seeking alternative ways to violence, understanding what is violence through the tree of violence, which reminds participants on things that will erupt violence. Brainstorming the tree of non-violence show all the possibility of learning how good roots give birth to good fruits of nonviolence and for this to work one will need transforming power discernment when confronted in a violent way. In three days’ facilitators help participants to understand the five elements of transforming power of Caring for others especially during this difficult times of Covid-19 pandemic, respect for self and others, think before reacting, asking for a non-violent solutions and expecting the best. All this will help participants for learn how to affirm self and others, good communication which will help in cooperation and in case there is a problem, they will find out creative non-violent ways of solving which include use of I messages, problem solving using broken squares and role plays.

AVP program has helped deescalate violence among young people in Mt. Elgon, the training has played a key role in reducing direct violence in schools and community, we hope to continue to use the AVP tools in preparedness of our general elections are schedule for next year.

“The tree of violence was in me, I couldn’t think twice, and small misunderstanding will trigger me in a fight with siblings including my parents, I have had problems controlling my anger, learning about transforming power I feel am now able to control my anger and have the ability to judge well without getting in a fight” participants

“I wish to thanks the organization that has brought this training, the training is going to help all of us and especially my administration which be handling lots of cases of violence, if we allow transforming power to work in us, then this tree of nonviolence will grow in all of Mt. Elgon” area administrator

“Elections are coming next year youth you should not be used by politicians to peddle violence and cause mayhem, use this basic knowledge of non-violence to preach peace, make roleplays of peace in school and churches, practice I message at home to save this mountain from political violence” AVP facilitator

“The training was very educative and fun” participants

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Project Leader:
David Zarembka
Kakamega, Kenya
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