Mungiki engaged in peacemaking

Wednesday, February 6, 2008
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A network called Pyramids of Peace, led by Rachel Wambui Kungu, met Mungiki militia in Naivasha last week, and persuaded them to remove roadblocks for the next seven days. They need airtime and cellphones to continue this amazing work.

From AfricaNews:

"Rachel Wambui Kungu, +254 721 626 389, is back in Nairobi. Her team met with key leaders of the Mungikis in Naivasha. They have given their names and phone numbers to participate in the Pyramid of Peace and to engage the violent Mungikis who have moved onward to Nairobi. They agreed to remove the road blocks for the next seven days. They will organize a large meeting in two days or so to meet with leaders from the Catholic church and with the local head of the police. Afterwards, they wish to meet with the Kalenjins for dialogue. They are ready for a permanent peace upon three reasonable conditions:

1) that Kalenjins and others stop fighting and free the roads as well,
2) that the opposition leaders tell their people to stop fighting,
3) that the youth be involved in the decisions affecting them.

Wesley Chirchir Chebii, +254 722 992 107, returned this morning to Eldoret where he drafted a message for a press conference given by Kalenjin elders who talked effectively on radio stations. Wesley will go tomorrow to the Kalenjin roadblocks at Iten. He is well prepared to build on the momentous victory by Rachel and her team.

How you can support Pyramids of Peace:

* purchase cell phone airtime for Kenyans which they can share or barter, try or

Rachel and her team of Kikuyu peacemakers from Nairobi arrived in Naivasha at 11:30 am by public transportation. The morning was tense, but all went well in Naivasha. Their local contacts told the women not to wear their jeans, but rather to buy some scarfs and kangas (dresses), which they did. This is so that they would not be confused with men from a distance, and not be perceived as a threat. Soon they were talking with the local youth, and afterwards with the real Mungikis, a clique known for their violence. They spoke with more than thirty people, many of whom were key Mungiki leaders, and received excellent cooperation. They agreed that they would each speak further with five or ten people and invite them all for the great public meeting they will organize in the next two days along with Rachel and her team. They do not want to deal yet with the police in the area because they accuse them of much harm to their people, including their women, but at the meeting they will invite the local head of the police. They have confirmed their intent by providing their names and numbers to post publicly in our Pyramid of Peace.

Should the seven day calm hold, they are very keen to work for peace. They want education on how the youth of different tribes can live together. They will engage those who have been displaced and give them hope that they may come back and live in harmony. They ask for counseling for their trauma. They wish for economic development so they might start their own businesses, for unemployed they are vulnerable to recruitment as thugs.

Donations are very helpful now because Rachel’s team and others in our Pyramid of Peace can buy airtime which the Naivasha Mungikis agree is not to call their friends, but rather to engage the violent Mungikis who have moved on to Nairobi. Certainly, they can be that much more effective if they have their own cell phones ($100 each) rather than using their mother’s. Likewise, Rachel needs a laptop (new $800 or used $500) so that she can write reports. A newspaper advertisement declaring the agreement would have national impact for a few hundred dollars. Our giving hearts will bind us together in ways that can’t be undone.

Our priority now is to cement a great victory by Rachel and her time (which I think included Kennedy Owino +254 723 568 251 and David Mutua +254 720 462 559). We can call, we can talk, we can give, we can donate. We can accept the challenge to encourage the Kalenjins and Luos and others to free the roads as well and celebrate the calm. We can reestablish Nakuru as a haven for dialogue. We might also verify the respect for travelers by sending travelers. Rachel told how they made great progress by riding motorbikes, which made it easy for them to speak to the road blockers, as opposed to driving in cars. What a telling illustration of the maxim "Be vulnerable". By allowing for a little hurt, we can know who is truly hurtful."

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About Shailja Patel

Shailja Patel is a Kenyan poet, writer and theatre artist who has performed at venues from New York's  Lincoln Center to the Zanzibar International Film Festival. Patel's first full-length show, Migritude, premiered in the San Francisco Bay Area, and toured Kenya to critical acclaim in 2007. The show was selected as the subject of the 2007 season premiere of SPARK! –  KQED TV's award-winning arts programme .Patel's work has received awards from, among others, the Ford Foundation, the National Performance Network, and Indian American Women Empowered. Most recently, she is a founding member of Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice, a coalition of Kenyan citizens and legal, governance, and human rights organizations, working towards a viable peace in the Kenya Crisis stemming from the December 2007 elections.