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globe logo     Caravan: Newsletter of the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World
Number 8 June 2001

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 · Unity is strength!
 · Peace: the no-choice option for Africa
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Trip to Kenya
Peace: the no-choice option for Africa

Late March this year, my friend Philippe who is the editor of Caravan, visited me in Nairobi in preparation for this eighth issue. I visited him the next day in the morning. After greetings, he told me: "Michael, Nairobi is even more insecure than the last time I was here". And I went on to ask him why? He replied: "From the fourth floor of my hotel [in the City centre], I saw a man just shot dead by police at a very close range and four passer-by injured in the action! And hundreds of people around were in deep terror of what the policemen would do next. At once, they all lied down, hands on the head, to avoid the bullets." I became silent for a while. I did not want to answer him immediately that things had changed in just a few months. And that this is the new face of Nairobi.

Kenya, a country located in East Africa has a population of 28.7 million. Countries that are always at war surround the country. This renders it a good refugee settlement. Their influx to the country means, proliferation of arms and competition for the meagre resources with the local populace, etc. Once an admiration to the rest of the world due to its warm and friendly people, beautiful flora and fauna, Kenya (and especially the major cities and towns) is gradually changing to the worse. Unemployment, lack of proper education, expensive medical expenses, and corruption, poor leadership and ethnic animosity caused by irresponsible leadership are the trends in our country.

Our local dailies are full of stories of misery and sadness. These include careless driving of public vehicles which end up killing all passengers, unrest in all levels of education, day light robberies, police shooting and killing suspected gangsters, irresponsible parenthood, domestic violence, swindling of huge amounts of monies by our leaders, grabbing of public land, retrenchment of long serving civil employees without remuneration, the pandemic of AIDS, a corrupt and inefficient judiciary and many other social evils.

As we sat with Philippe having our tea, sharing out on the status of our country, we were amazed at how things were volatile. These are manifestations of worse things to come. There is a dire need for peace in the country. Some mechanisms have to be put in place before it is too late. Things are not as serious as they seem but an urgent action needs to be taken.

Africa hosts 40% of world conflicts. Our continent is inhabited by thousands of ethnic nationalities most of whom had lived side by side before the artificial national boundaries were drawn between them by colonial masters. These have extensively created enmity and death between different ethnic communities. Examples include Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Uganda and many others.

It is not easily understood why in the past few years conflicts have degenerated in to spills of uncontrolled violence. We do not understand why groups of people who have been living together for years turn violent and inhuman against one another. Thus being a shame to humanity.

Note that amidst all these dark stories there is still some light at the end of the dark tunnel as various organisations are doing commendable duties to restore the dented image of the continent (see contacts).

If Africa is to survive this new millennium, then the issues of conflict and peace must be tackled. As Africans, we have to come up with our own ways of conflict resolution, transformation and peace-building. Our continent still needs to re-identify its position in the global system. War and unnecessary conflict must be stopped. And not simply the absence of conflict, but also a framework for dynamic processes of social, economic and political development. Networking is a concrete way forward.

Michael Ochieng' (Kenya)

* Michael Ochieng' est coordinateur de Africa Peace Point (voir description) et le correspondant de Caravane pour l'Afrique de l'Est. Il est aussi engagé avec sa femme dans un remarquable projet à vie de gestion d'une maison / communauté qui accueille une trentaine d'enfants des rues de Nairobi. Le couple a personnellement adopté huit d'entre eux. Pour plus d'information sur ce projet, contactez Jane à :

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