Women led peace initiative bears fruits
The much heightened Saba Saba rally of July 7, 2014 that infused political tension in the country came and passed peacefully despite the media having hyped it so much that everybody became anxious of day, speculating and anticipating violence.
As the worry piled up pressure among different communities living together in various parts of the country, minority groups were vacating their business premises and houses. This was after rumours spread that leaflets were distributed in certain areas for a particular ethnic cluster to leave.
Amid the confusion as political temperatures kept on rising, some people left their homes for fear of a recurring of the post-election violence of 2007/2008.
The mass exodus in the country provoked various groups to come out and advocate for peace ahead of the Saba Saba rally.
Such a group was Kibera Women for Peace and Fairness (KWPF), a community based organization that coordinates over 200 different sub-sections within the sprawling informal settlement.
The Kibera Women for Peace and Fairness group was concerned with the heightened tension in the country and decided to promote peace by demonstrating peacefully in Nairobi, the venue of the Saba Saba rally. The message of peace, love and unity was passed through the songs they sung as they walked from Uhuru Park to Parliament buildings.
According to Jane Anyango, coordinator Kibera Women for Peace and Fairness, the women were inspired since they know that women and children from informal settlements bear the greatest burden of violence. She added that majority of them have lost husbands, children, property and livelihoods because of violence.
“During times of conflict majority of women are raped, their children and husbands are murdered leaving them not only widows but psychologically tortured. So, we are here to promote peace now, during and beyond Saba Saba rally,” Anyango explains.
According to Anyango, the group has been collecting signatures from women within informal settlements such as Mathare, Kibera, Korogocho, Kawangware, Baba Ndogo, Mukuru, Kiambio and Dandora to ensure they have peace throughout the year.
To ensure that their plans and advocacy were backed up, they delivered a memorandum to Jebii Kilimo, Chairperson of Anti Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Board at her office.
According to Fanice Muhonja, chairperson Kibera Women for Peace and Fairness, the letter would compel the Government to provide security to women and maintain peace especially in slums. It would also be the responsibility of bodies such as Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) to ensure peace prevails in the country for the sake of women and children.
“KEWOPA must commit itself to supporting women in their endeavours to promote tolerance and co-existence among communities living in cosmopolitan settlements,” explained Muhonja.
Kibera Women for Peace and Fairness is against any form of violence, whether slight or major because at the end of the day, people get displaced, injured, disabled, killed or even mentally traumatised for the rest of lives.
According to Peris Achieng, Secretary Kibera Women for Peace and Fairness, they have various activities that keep the women in the group busy. These activities include sports for peace, multi-cultural events, urban farming (sack gardening), radio listening circles, group saving and loaning as well as gender based violence campaigns.
The group which is composed of young and old women from different communities and backgrounds is famously known as “Wamama wa Amani (women who cherish peace) in the community because of the activities they are engaged in.
The women’s dedication could be seen in their unity, love for one another, reception, respect to other community regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity and educational background.
Just two days before the hyped Saba Saba rally, religious leaders led a day of national prayer at Uhuru Park to seek God’s intervention for peace. The event was dedicated to prayer for Kenya, families, leaders, friends and giving thanks to God for His graciousness.
The theme of the National Day of Prayer was “May We Dwell in Unity”. The message of the sermon stated that: “As God’s people, we must rekindle the national spirit and commit the country to Him”.
The event was organised by Government of Kenya in collaboration with Inter-Religious Council of Kenya. Religious leaders from all groups assembled for the prayers that included ambassadors among other dignitaries.
However, the prayers were headed by Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church despite Christians from various denominations assembling.
However, the Saba Saba day all went ahead without any major incidences of chaos countrywide..