Promoting National Cohesion and Reconciliation in Kenya: Reconciliation as a Process and Practice
A project of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) and Institute of Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) Project
The 2007 and 2008 post-electoral violence in Kenya was one of the most violent and destructive periods in the country’s history. Approximately 1,300 lives were lost as a direct result of the violence and over 350,000 people were internally displaced. The Kenyan society has thus experienced deep fragmentation and today it still has to deal with the physical, emotional and economic scars of this history of violence.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission is mandated to facilitate and promote equality of opportunity, good relations, harmony and peaceful co-existence between persons of the different ethnic and racial communities of Kenya, and to advise the Government on all aspects thereof. This is achieved through policy research, analysis and advice; capacity building and training geared towards promoting national dialogue and creating public awareness. In addition, the NCIC is mandated to ‘enter into association with other bodies or organizations within or outside Kenya as it may consider desirable or appropriate and in furtherance of the purpose for which the Commission was established’.
The Institute of Justice and Reconciliation was founded in 2000 in the wake of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). IJR is located at the interface between civil society and academia; it contributes to the building of fair, democratic and inclusive societies in African countries before, during and after political transition through peace building. IJR works by establishing local partnership’s with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. IJR is currently working on preparing for and supporting justice and reconciliation processes in Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Eastern DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda. Requests were sent to the Institute to support reconciliation initiatives in Kenya.
The FBA is a Swedish government agency dedicated to enhancing the quality and effectiveness of international conflict and crisis management, with a particular focus on peace operations. The overall objective is to contribute to lasting peace and development. FBA functions as a platform for cooperation between Swedish agencies and organizations and their international partners. Its main areas of responsibility are civilian personnel contribution to international peace operations; education training and exercises; policy research and development; national and international cooperation and coordination and funding of civil society peace projects.
Inter-ethnic Dialogue for Reconciliation and Peaceful coexistence: Use of Community Elders in Reconciliation:
• The Case of Kikuyu and Kalenjin Elders in Nakuru County.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission in partnership with National Steering Committee on Peace building and Conflict Management (NSC) facilitated a series of meetings with the Kikuyu and Kalenjin elders in Nakuru County to promote peaceful co-existence and reconciliation between the two dominant ethnic group). The overarching aim of the meetings/dialogue forums was to build understanding and encourage peaceful and harmonious coexistence between the two communities. The two communities have been involved in fierce competition for resources mainly land that has at times flared into violent clashes. Inter-tribal clashes were witnessed in 1992, 1997 and the most recent and most violent in 2007-08.
The key expected result from the community dialogue forums will the community peace agreement/social contract
that will bind the communities to live harmoniously.
• Mount Elgon and Cheptais District
Mt Elgon has been a theatre of intra and inter-ethnic conflicts culminating in the emergence of the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF), a militia group that claimed to be fighting for the land rights of the Sabaot community. Formed in 2006, SLDF claimed to seek redress for alleged injustices stemming from, among
other things, skewed land distribution in the third Phase of Chebyuk Settlement Scheme, with the conflict pitting two main clans of the Sabaot – Mosop (also known as Ndorobo) and Soy – against each other. The SLDF was blamed for the deaths of at least 600 civilians in an insurgency quelled by the security
officers comprising the Kenya Army and Kenya Police in March 2008 in an operation dubbed “Operation Okoa Maisha” (Operation Save Lives).
It is against this background that The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) facilitated community peace initiatives between the Ndorobo/Mosop and the Soy sub-clans -that had been in conflict to promote dialogue, healing and peaceful coexistence.
The Commission also trained community leaders on the legal implications of hate speech and inciteful utterances.
The NCIC has also been involved in promoting dialogue between the Sabaots and their Teso and Bukusu neighbours who together reside within the wider Bungoma County. It Is widely believed that residents of Mt Elgon region voted ‘NO’ in the referendum because the boundary of the Devolved Government would place them
back within the administrative boundaries of Bungoma alongside the the Bukusu and Teso communities.
The Commission set up a County Elders Forum and a Community Peace and Cohesion Committee to promote cohesion, integration and peaceful coexistence of communities inhabiting the larger Mt. Elgon region.
These initiatives have resulted in the reduction of intra and inter-ethnic conflict in the county, reduction in reported cases of hate speech especially by the political class, increased number of intra- and inter-community forums and consequently the expansion of development activities due to the new found peace in the region. To a certain extent there is a successful integration of Internally Displaced Persons into the community.
In light of the above, the NCIC, FBA and IJR formed a tripartite collaboration with the aim of Promoting National Cohesion and Reconciliation in Kenya through;
d) Policy Brief
For further information, please contact;