John Tyman's
Cultures in Context Series
Studies of the Maasai, the Luhya, and Nairobi's Urban Fringe
46a. Conflict and Resolution II : 688-700
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688. During this time community workers, including the staff of the Mentoring Project -- especially Olita -- risked their lives attempting to build bridges between warring factions. Meetings were also convened at which community leaders, politicians and bureaucrats explored possible options.
689. Individual community members also worked hard to stop the bloodshed, including Father Lukas Odiemo. He was priest of a local African Church -- the Legio Maria -- an indigenous group formed years earlier because of the need for a church that was a creation of the local people and not one imposed by colonizers in times past.
690. Mass meetings brought together crowds seeking an end to the crisis ... including many from informal settlements like Kibera.
691. And it was young people, as usual, who were moved to take action, beginning with a “Youth Peace Concert”.
692. Teams competing in the soccer tournament now wore shirts promoting peace, justice and reconciliation.
693. And young men who had previously been perpetrators of violence once more planted trees, working together in the interests of the wider community. The slogan then was "Plant a tree for Peace".
694. Their plantings are now referred to as "Peace Gardens" ... symbolizing victory over not only pollution but also tribal divisions.
695. With an end to election violence and the adoption of a constitutional compromise it is to be hoped that the people of Kibera will once more be able to focus their energies on the correction of past and present injustice and neglect. (Local OXFAM group marches in support of greater fairness.)
696. Since the improvement of living conditions in peoples’ settlements is unlikely to be given high priority by any government wedded to more impressive forms of "development" downtown which overlook the needs of the poorest, it is likely that self-help and community initiatives like those discussed will remain the only means of raising living standards in the foreseeable future. (Nairobi Central Business District.)
697. Non-government organizations and development officers provided by universities and local authorities will continue to play a valuable role as facilitators of change in communities where, against all odds, there are many with the will and the imagination necessary to improve their position. (High-tech water filters provided by OXFAM)
698. And there will continue to be opportunities for institutions and individuals overseas to contribute directly and significantly to correcting the imbalance between rich and poor throughout Kenya. The Tweed Shire Council has shown the way. Hopefully others will follow. (Clean water project in Western Kenya funded by voluntary deductions from the monthly salaries of employees of the Tweed Shire Council.)
699. As for Sam, his original visa only allowed him to stay in Australia for six months. At the end of that period he had to return home ... where he attended a private school in Nairobi, paid for by the Australian community that took him to its heart. His Australian family were keen for him to return, though, to complete his schooling. It took months to arrange this, but he now rates as a high achiever, on and off the field, at a private secondary school in the Tweed Shire! (Sam” at home” in Australia.)
700. During the election Kibera was a place of conflict. At other times, though, its inhabitants have displayed a capacity to overlook tribal differences and work together to overcome difficulties not unlike those which face Kenya as a whole. As such Kibera could well prove to be the birthplace of a real sense of nationhood. (The beginnings of a “Peace Garden”.)


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