3 things can guarantee Peace in Kenya

3 things can guarantee Peace in Kenya

Kenyans are only a few days away from elections, and once again the chorus of peaceful elections has begun. First, the call was for Peaceful and Credible Elections. But the Credibility gave way to peaceful elections and finally, as we often do in most of Africa, we are now being asked to ensure we have a "peaceful country" after elections.

Part of the reason is well documented. The International community is heavily invested in Kenya from a business, diplomatic and military perspective. But the more subtle reason is that we are often focused on the superficial issues of the continent, and never committed to addressing the real concerns of citizens that will guarantee them control of their resources and future. Asking for peace during the forthcoming elections without investing in the instruments that ensure sustained peace is a common trend of international engagement with the continent.

By calling for peaceful elections we miss two things.

First, most of Africa's democracy is very focused on the 50%+1 majoritarian elections. Whoever has the longest queue gets to control all the others. So even if only 10% show up for elections, whoever gets 5%+1 gets to rule over the 100%! This is what has caused the crisis in South Sudan, where two ethnic groups, who make up over 50% of the population, are able to effectively exercise unfettered control over the 65 ethnic groups in the country. In Kenya, four ethnic groups- Luo, Luhya, Kalenjin, and Kikuyu, make up more than 50%. To win, they just need to group together and then look for a few so-called "fringe" groups from the remaining 38 ethnic groups. And so part of the bigger problem is the insistence by the international actors that democracy must only work on one track in Africa, never mind the dynamics and context.

But there is a deeper issue, more about our failure to understand humanity and society.

First, society will never be forced into peace. Peace is something that humans deliberately choose to exercise. The reason why past Empires fell is because they tried to impose peace on people they conquered. Two empires-Roman and Persian, managed to succeed in keeping peace and cohesion in nations they conquered.  But it is because all who have kept peace and dealt with ethnicity in society have done three things and three things only.

Justice, Security, and Equity

When a society feels that there is some form of fairness, that they will be heard if they are wronged, that evil will be punished, and that they will receive equal treatment for wrongs done irrespective of who is in leadership or what resources the others have- that brings a sense of justice, and people are unlikely to become violent.

Security and equity go hand in hand. Human beings seek security in the familiar people-based on relations or their knowledge. Generally, we all begin by seeking security from those closest to us- mother, then father, then brothers and sisters, then uncles, then clan then tribe, then nation, then the world. It’s a natural progression that should never be interpreted as wrong or even unnecessary. Each of these are baby steps where we try out things, and if we get our fingers burnt, we recoil back to what we know to be safe. So Children molested by their mothers never trust anyone. Those harassed by their fathers never trust society, especially men… even their own husbands. Those who have been harmed by family try to look for another "family" in close friends or some form of collective group.

At a national level, as long as we are made to feel that we are only safe if we group together as communities, we will seek to defend that community from the "other". That is why Churches find it easy to gang up and challenge Muslims as a Bloc, even when they are different denominations and disagree on many areas. It is why the Muslim community gang up against Israel. It is why even gangs in the ghetto will team up to defeat an external rival. That is simply how society works and has nothing to do with ethnicity or social class or religion.

It gets worse when we give the perception that resources are shared along the lines of security. So if I go to those with who I am secure, only then will I get resources that are rightfully mine.

It happens all over the world.

In the US, Resources are shared on the basis of whether you are Republican or Democrat. Your progress in life, and whether you feel secure or not, depends on whether you follow the route of Republicans or Democrats. It is not about "ideologies" In fact what America has done is to convert shared social interests into ideologies, then make them into manifestos of political parties. That is why independent candidates do not go far in America. They represent no form of security or resource distribution. You will find the same in many forms in Europe, and Asia… it is just human!

So the only way to have peace in society is to address the two things:

First, remove a democracy where others are forced to be led by others simply because they have numerical strength.

Secondly ensure there is Justice and equity, in both action and perception. Make society and individuals in society feel that they can find security in our collective nation, not only in the people closest to them or related to them.

Make them feel that they have equal access to resources and opportunities, irrespective of their closeness to the people who are responsible for ensuring their distribution.

If we do not do this, anything we do in the name of peace is simply postponing a much bigger crises that will sooner or later blow up.

True peace is Justice, Security, and Equity.


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