Kenya 2022 Elections: Peacebuilding Mashujaa (Heroes) are a source of light and hope
On Tuesday, 9 August 2022, Kenyans head to the polls in hotly contested general elections. As a native Kenyan, I join my fellow country women and men in observing our approach to the elections with a mixture of excitement, hope, anxiety and trepidation as in the past, elections have triggered or exacerbated violence in our country.
Localising peacebuilding action: The Kenyan Peace Actors Forum
As I keenly follow stories in the media and, more importantly, on Kenyan civil society chat rooms such as the Peace Actors Forum, I have been uplifted and amazed at the multitude of civil society initiatives. I am profoundly assured to see dedicated and innovative peace actors in Kenya engage tirelessly across the country to promote peaceful and fair elections. From organising national peace marches to engaging in dialogue with security officials, the private sector, youth and women - these peace actors have mobilised thousands across the country. From the capital, Nairobi, to the remote corners of the country, Kenyan civil society’s untiring push for transparency, justice and peaceful elections and transition of political power in our country is my source of hope and light.
As we anxiously await the outcome of these elections and more importantly, the reactions to the outcomes of the elections, I want to share three messages to our peacebuilding Mashujaa (Heroes) in Kenya:
- If there is any violence in the aftermath of these elections it will not be due to any lack of commitment, initiative and engagement on the part of Kenyan civil society and grassroots peacebuilding activists. You are real Mashujaa (Heroes) and should be recognised for all your efforts. You are a source of hope in our country.
- If these elections, God willing, pass peacefully and ensure a smooth and just transition of power, many may never attribute or recognise the role that Kenyan civil society played in preventing post-electoral violence. Such is often the unfortunate fate of preventive peacebuilding. I deeply hope that the heroic role of Kenyan civil society will be recognised and adequately resourced, especially in the years between Kenya’s election cycles.
- My last message is to those politicians who will lose in the upcoming elections. You too have an opportunity to be Mashujaa (heroes). Accepting free and fair election results and conceding defeat is an act of strength and true patriotism. It has only happened once in our country’s history, and many fail to understand just how much that heroic act in 2002 served to energies Kenya and Kenyans - Energy that we desperately need today in Kenya.
I want to thank Kenyan civil society for giving me hope. I pray that we may have fair and peaceful elections and a smooth transition of power in Kenya, no matter who wins these elections.