When we were planning our February Peace Edition ahead of the 2013 polls, we found many worthy causes promoting harmony during the elections. One standout project is the “I Am Kenyan” campaign. A bunch of dedicated teenagers have gotten together to promote unity across ethnic and tribal lines by promoting the simple message; we are all one. In these times of cynicism and political apathy, it is refreshing to see young people make an effort to make a difference.
They have rallied support through their webpage www.iamkenya. or.ke, where people upload photos of themselves holding the sign “I am Kenyan”. On February 22nd they are planning a massive march. UP is ready to put on their tie-dyes and a pair of Converse on our feet and join the rally! Stay tuned on UPNairobi.com for more information this coming month. Other great causes include the Wazi Campaign (www.youtube.com/user/ thewazicampaign).
The objective of this project is to inspire Kenyans to embrace peaceful elections in 2013 and to promote good governance. They do this through a series of public service announcements that will air on KBC, Kiss TV, Citizen TV, NTV, QTV, KTN and Fox theatres are also showing it in their movie theatres after the National Anthem. Then there is the undeniable “Kenya Burning” project. Lest we forget the terrible violence that engulfed this country during the last poll, check this out on page 19. Promoting peace through creativity is a strong way to get the message across. Who can deny the voice of thousands in a collective message forming one voice delivered in a dramatic and heartfelt way? This reminds us of all the other peace campaigns around the world.
The voice of millions of protesters “putting flowers in their hair” shut down the Vietnam War in the United States. Ghandi rolled back the Empire in India through words. Nelson Mandela took the high road of reconciliation and forever changed the direction of a nation. Mother Teresa waged peace wherever she went. The Dalai Lama smiles at his foes. Nonviolent protests and civil disobedience ushered in the Arab Spring. The lessons of the past show that peace exposes violence for what it is and shames those who would perpetuate it.
No where was this more true than in Martin Luther King’s civil rights campaign—a dark hour in American history that exposed and mortified those on the wrong side of justice. The same holds true for us in the run up to March 4. The perpetuators of violence, corruption, and injustice will be rooted out by the overwhelming force of peace that surrounds the next election, and by a people who will refuse to stand up for any more non-sense from the vultures out to suck Kenya dry of its promise.
There is a message here for the old guard and political elite. The world is watching, including one of Kenya’s most famous sons, President Obama: “This election can be another milestone towards a truly democratic Kenya, defined by the rule of law and strong institutions…if you take that step and reject a path of violence and divisions, then Kenya can move towards prosperity and opportunity that unleashes the extraordinary talents of your people…” Amen, brother! Leaders are you listening to your people? Today, more than ever, we need peace projects and peace ambassadors to guide us through a trying time. Never forget.