EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE OF KENYA
REPORT ON POST ELECTION VIOLENCE INVOLVEMENT
On December 27th 2007, Kenya went to the polls to elect a new government (president, members of parliament and civic leaders). On Dec 30th 2007 when the presidential election results were announced, the country broke out into what was later to alleged to be pre-meditated ethnic cleansing sparked by the election results.
In the Rift Valley and Nyanza provinces of Kenya, people were forcefully evicted from their homes, women were raped, homes burnt, hundreds killed and thousands displaced. Places of refuge identified by the fleeing masses were churches, schools, and police stations. Traumatized citizens flocked these ‘safe places’ only for the same to become their tombs as was experienced by over 40 women and children burnt alive in a church within the Rift Valley.
This state of anarchy then spread to other parts of the country, hitting the capital city -Nairobi. The town center was spared from destruction by a heavy presence of police and para-military personnel. However in some of the urban informal settlements the situation was very different. Youths aligned to opposing sides of the political divide armed themselves with crude weapons, taking it upon themselves to forcefully evict their opponents, killing and ousting the same from their homes. In some places there was a physical demarcation based on ethnicity.
Reports from member churches indicate that over 800 churches were destroyed mainly in Rift Valley and Nyanza Provinces during the spate of violence, while government statistics put a conservative figure of those who lost their lives at 1500 while those who were displaced and are now living in camps for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) at 600,000. Some of these persons have sought refuge in small church managed camps spread across Central, Nyanza, Nairobi and Rift Valley provinces.
2.0 EAK’s Involvement
ü Advocacy for Dialogue - Pursuant to the break out of violence, EAK senior bishops and church leaders in conjunction with the Inter-Religious Forum (IRF), a body constituted to bring together religious leaders from across the political and ethnic divide visited with the Head of State on: (30th, 5th Jan, 2nd & 15th Feb 2008) and Opposition leaders (18th, 30th Jan, 4th, 12th Feb 2008). The main aim of the visits was to create an atmosphere where both parties would begin dialogue – a long and arduous task.
ü When the violence initially broke out, EAK met with officials from the Ministry of Information to seek a redress on the disturbing coverage and especially by the International Press. Later, the Minister issued a ban on live coverage reporting, that was to last until the third week of February 2008 when it was lifted.
ü Again in conjunction with the Partnership for Peace (PFP) a body constituted of senior religious leaders, government, UN agencies and INGO’s, mainly to champion for peaceful elections, EAK has held four meetings (4th ,8th , 12th ,19th January, with key personalities, among them the eminent persons, the President and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) pentagon leaders. The aim of these meetings has been to lobby for peace and reconciliation.
ü Church Mobilization - EAK has facilitated several meetings with religious leaders of diverse ethnicity engagement with perpetrators of violence on the ground to desist and instead embrace peace.
a) Kikuyu – Kalenjin (28th ,30th Jan& 7th Feb 2008) reaching 120 clergy,
b) Luhya – Kikuyu (12th Feb 2008) reaching 40 clergy,
c) Luhya alone (29th Feb) reaching 160 clergy and
d) Kikuyu alone (21st Feb) reaching 60 clergy.
Several more meetings are planned to reach out to Luo – Kikuyu, Luo – Kisii, Kisii – Kalenjin and Kalenjin – Maasai communities. These leaders are deemed to have significant influence within their respective tribes therefore would effectively convey a message of peace which would be heeded by the perpetrators on the ground. At the same time these meetings are seeking to address the pertinent underlying issues that have now come to the fore such as resource (land among others) distribution across the country and access to services by all Kenyans regardless of the political or tribal affiliations.
ü Church Mobilization - EAK as part of her core mandate of Prayer and Evangelism has through members churches organized and participated in “Peace Sundays”. These are special days set aside to pray and fast for peace and understanding.
ü EAK members have responded to the plight of the IDP’s by taking them into their churches and homes. Currently in parts of Central, Nairobi, Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces, over 200,000 IDP’s are being hosted in small camps. These camps are not currently being served by the major players i.e. Kenya Red Cross and other INGO’s, but are relying on church support, well-wishers and the host community. EAK is therefore creating awareness that these camps can be included in the support allocated by both Government and Relief Agencies working in the area.
Now that a power sharing deal has been agreed upon by both parties, Kenya is reeling with the awesome task of rebuilding, resettlement and reconciliation. EAK is strategically poised to facilitate the reconciliation which will pave way for meaningful and sustainable resettlement. Denominations will now have to raise funds to rebuild the churches that were looted and burnt down. The needs are overwhelming, financially and psychologically. This is a daunting task, which is possible only through God’s grace!
Pray with us that the new dawn for Kenya will enable healing take place and lead many to Christ!