Thursday, May 22, 2008

11 May, Rept. 47, AGLI written up in newspaper

From: David Zarembka
Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dear All,

Below is an article from today's Sunday Nation, the largest paper in Kenya. The first part is about three PM's from the Rift Valley talking about reconciliation, then the last part -- which I have put in red -- is about AGLI!!!! There are a few small mistakes (we are doing up to 20 rather than up to 2 workshops in each place).

[Note from Dawn: When this is sent our using our listserv the color will probably disappear. The section about AGLI begins with the 9th paragraph after the heading "Conflict Resolution." There are also misspellings of Gladys Kamonya's name and Kipkarren River.]

Since he did not put our website address in the article, I don't see how people can contact me since I doubt that folks will drive to Lumakanda to look me up.

[Note from Dawn: Well Dave, maybe they will "google" your name!]



Leaders accuse state of hurrying settlement drive to please the US
Publication Date: 5/11/2008

The home-bound internal refugees have had mixed fortunes.

While many had a warm reception in places such as Molo, the same cannot be said of other areas in the Rift Valley.

The icy relations that sparked the flight from their homes in the aftermath of the election dispute last year are still manifest in some areas.

Many say they fear returning home to live with their "enemies". Indeed, some have told the government to resettle them elsewhere.

Largely unplanned

Special Programmes minister Naomi Shaaban, who is playing a key role in the settlement drive, has assured the displaced families that no one will be forced to return home.

But some MPs from Rift Valley Province, which was mostly affected by the violence, argue that the programme is being implemented in a hurry, and is largely unplanned. They say that although they embrace the return of the IDPs, there is need for reconciliation first before settlement.

The MPs, Franklin Bett (Buret), Julius Kones (Konoin) and Isaac Ruto (Chepalungu) want the government and other groups to be involved in a reconciliation programme that will help people live in peace.

The leaders argue that the most important thing now is to reconcile the people instead of using the provincial administration to force the IDPs' neighbours to welcome them back home. They say armed police escorts and more police stations in the violence-hit areas will not help reconcile the people.

Mr Bett says he is for planned and not "false" resettlement of IDPs. "Resettlement," he says, "must be in a manner that will give us a permanent solution. That solution is first through reconciliation, development of forgiveness between communities and reawakening of the spirit of love among the people. That will make resettlement meaningful." "I will not be party to false resettlement," he told the Sunday Nation on telephone.

Mr Ruto accuses the government of hurrying the programme to please the international community, especially the United States.

"The government is in a hurry to remove an eyesore so the international community can give it accolades. It is what we call in Parliament playing to the gallery. "The government wants to be in good books with the international community," he says.

The MP says the government should involve local political, religious and civic leaders in the province. It should also respect the wishes of the IDPs.

"We MPs from the region are ready and willing to provide leadership for reconciliation," he told the Sunday Nation at Parliament Buildings. "The IDPs," he says, "are in anguish. They are scared to go back home. It takes two to tango. They should feel happy and safe. There is need for reconciliation.

Conflict resolution

"The provincial administration should not be involved in reconciliation. They are very poor in conflict resolution. To them, reconciliation is force. " He suggests that sociologists be involved in any programme to help heal the wounds among the affected people.

"University of Nairobi should provide experts to address the issue. This should be done after a proper census to identify genuine IDPs. We may be dealing with professional IDPs." He also wants a solution to unemployment among the youth "to avoid a new cycle of violence."

Mr Kones says settlement needs proper planning. "People need to be resettled, but there is no proper planning. Let there be a process. Let people get to know why they are going to live together," he says.

"The reconciliation process should have started first, where we bring together elders from different communities. This looks like a forced resettlement. I feel most (IDPs) were caught off-guard," he says.

The MP says the underlying emotive issues, including land, should be addressed to find a lasting solution to ethnic conflicts. The land problem, he says, was compounded by the high rate of unemployment among the youth.

The government and the other organisations involved in the programme may need to borrow a leaf from the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI) of the Friends Peace Teams, a non-governmental organisation which organises reconciliation workshops in Rwanda to help heal the wounds among the perpetrators and survivors of the genocide in the country in 1994.

The workshops, dubbed "Healing and Rebuilding our Communities (HROC)" have helped reconcile Rwanda's main ethnic groups, Hutu and Tutsi, following the genocide that left nearly one million people dead.

AGLI was founded by David Zarembka, an American. Its main office is in St Louis, Missouri. However, Mr Zarembka operates from Lumakanda in Lugari District where he lives with his wife Gladys Kimunya. Mr Zarembka is also AGLI's coordinator and the organisation has started reconciliation programmes in Western and Rift Valley provinces.

AGLI says on its website that it plans to conduct more than 100 basic and advanced workshops in various communities, many of which will involve young people who were involved in much of the violence. They will cover Bondo in Nyanza Province; Takatifu Gardens in Shinyalu, Lumakanda, Kakamega, Lugari District, and Vihiga District in Western Province; and Ndalu in Rift Valley Province.

"Each site will have up to two workshops so that each area can be adequately impacted." AGLI is reportedly supporting reconciliation efforts on the border between the Kipsigis (Rift Valley Province) and the Kisii (Nyanza Province) where more than 30 people were killed and where hundreds of homes, a school, and numerous businesses were burnt down.

Mr Zarembaka seems to be doing what Bett, Kones and Ruto are agreed on: making efforts to reconcile communities.

"I have been at a meeting since Thursday with the Friends Church Peace Team determining how we are going to meet with the IDPs-Luhya and the Nandi in Turbo, Mwamba and Kipkappen River near where I live in Lumakanda. These were all hard hit. There are still 4,000 unhappy IDPs at the Turbo Police Station," he told the Sunday Nation via email on Saturday.

No comments: