It is more difficult to organize a peace than to win a war; but the fruits of victory will be lost if the peace is not organized. Aristotle
71 years ago, on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the Sky and the World was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a City, and demonstrated that mankind possessed the ability to destroy itself -These were the words of US President Barrack Obama in his speech when he made a historic visit to Hiroshima Memorial park early 2016 during the International Community’s commemoration on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The happenings 71 years ago marked the beginning of the end of the second World war. But apart from that, Japan as a Country experienced tremendous shifts in her Politics, Geopolitics and Socio-politics. A Country -before then- so much deep seated in Militarized Politics and dictatorship, has today emerged to become one of the most peaceful Nations- with a people who tend to be very polite and who constantly seek consensus rather than domination. Relying on carefully cultivated rituals to lubricate their relations with each other.
At the time of this commemoration early in the year, I happened to be part of a panel discussing Kenya’s National Values and Principles of Governance -as stipulated in article ten -at an event in Kenyatta University School of law. Focusing on how young people in Kenya can lead the transformation to prudent leadership -A leadership that gives room for development, individual well being, as well as sustainable peace. My argument was simple -anchoring it to the historical happening in Japan. That, among other measures, the people themselves revisited their Nation’s foundation – the base on which the structures of their Nation should rest.
Kenya is today 8 months shy to the 2017 general elections – and the conversation already taking shape is on PEACE. The fear being that 2017 might experience both inter and intra ethnic unrest -NCIC cautioning on more of intra due to the devolved nature of resources.
This thus leading me to my trying to dissect the question of -not just peace- but sustainable peace -today, 2017 and beyond.
Kenya, just like a number of other Countries around the World, is yet to invest in resolving conflict in the long term -and thus the result being a recurring fear of both pre and post election tensions -every five years.
Looking at the aspects of Positive peace versus Negative peace, Kenya has invested in the latter. Negative peace is simply the art of avoiding large scale physical violence. Irrespective of whether the issues that would otherwise bring about the violence are addressed or not. In this, you simply manage conflict just before -or during an election. If things go south, quickly look for conflict resolution mechanisms. Africa as a whole is very notorious in this, and is today perfecting the culture of peace deals -Just get two tribal chiefs to share power, and everyone is happy. right? Until new tribal chiefs show up and rewind the script.
On the other hand, positive peace delves into the root causes of unrest, uprooting the conditions responsible for conflict, and planting conditions necessary for sustainable peace. Generally, these conditions are generated by the people themselves. Choosing how to lubricate their relationships. The people refuse to accept that peace should be the absence of conflict, but rather, a holistic well-being of they the people, as well as putting right and just structures in their own society. A route pursued by the Japanese 71 years ago, or closer home, by Rwanda 22 years ago.
With negative peace, conflict can only be managed -until the next election. Or resolved when things go south. But with positive peace, conflict is transformed.
How then can Kenya cultivate Positive peace, and what will the real cost be?
The general agreement is that sustainable peace is not the absence of conflict, but the uprooting of vulnerabilities. Among the vulnerabilities in Kenya’s context today are poor governance, corruption, ethnic prejudices, growing unemployment and under-employment levels, voter apathy, weak education content, rising poverty levels, youth dissolution, among others.
All these calling for the revisiting of Kenya’s foundation by the people themselves. What foundation is the structure Kenya resting on? Is it transparency, accountability, integrity, inclusiveness, equality, non-discrimination, human rights, rule of law? Or is it ethnic prejudice, corruption and sycophancy? The former set that protects sustainable peace, or the latter set that only leads to a fear of conflict every five years.
The initial cost to sustainable peace from 2017 and beyond is, and will remain individual sacrifice among the people. The sacrifice that this time round, voting will not be a function of tribal arithmetic, rather, on individuals integrity. That it is now time to enhance the foundation, so that the structure that is Kenya can remain firm,and enjoy sustainable peace.
Kenya is very ripe for this kind of transformation, the only thing needed is a clear mind, courage, and a controlled appetite. Believe me, even wanjiku in the village knows this too well. It is only that she lacks that needed courage.
If the two constituencies that matter the most, i.e, youth and women, for once look at the interest of their own -fellow youth and women- without falling prey into boot-licking the already corrupt politicians, then the stage for sustainable peace is already set. Personally, I will even encourage we, the youth, women and PWDs to vie as independents to avoid getting contaminated by the already corrupt establishments. Because if in any case a contaminated youth or woman gets elected, the baggage they will be carrying won’t allow them to remain true to serving the people. They will quickly degenerate into sycophants chanting to please their tribal chiefs.
In conclusion, Morihei Uishiba, founder of Aikido -the popular Japanese martial arts, says this in the Art of Peace. That, the art of peace is not easy. It is a fight to the finish, the slaying of evil desires and all falsehoods within. On occasion, the voice of peace resounds like a thunder, jolting human beings out of stupor.
PS- Below are two articles;