Dear Fellow Kenyans,
The founders of this great nation envisioned a just country where citizens would live in brotherhood, peace and liberty as contained in our National Anthem. The same National Anthem continues to encourage us to all arise, with hearts both strong and true, to build this our nation together; and to firmly stand to defend the glory of Kenya.
As we approach the General Elections that are due on the 4th of March, we are once again faced with a real test of true nationhood. Remembering very well what happened during the previous elections in 2007, each and every citizen is hereby called upon to become a Messenger of Peace.
It has always been said that the nation is greater than any individual. True to that, it is our collective responsibility as both leaders and citizens to prevent a re-occurrence of the violence and lawlessness that led to the death, injury and displacement of so many Kenyans after the previous elections. If you have watched the documentary “Heal the Nation” by Boniface Mwangi I bet you understand better what we mean. We need to constantly remind ourselves and reflect deeply on what happened and must draw lessons from it.
As the Scouting Movement we are calling upon Kenyans from all walks of life and especially our political leaders to work towards uniting all citizens by promoting peaceful co-existence, national cohesion and integration. We are blessed with a nation that is rich in cultural diversity; which out to be a unifying factor rather than one that divides us along tribal, racial, religious or social clusters. Baden Powell once said that, “God has given us a world to live in that is full of beauties and wonders and He has given us not only the eyes to see them, but minds to understand them, if we only have the sense to look at them in that light.”
As an educational movement for young people that is open to all-boys and girls without distinction of origin, race, gender and creed or tribal/ethnic background in accordance with the purpose, principles and methods as conceived by the founder, Lord Robert Baden Powel, whose birthday we celebrate today on 22nd February; We offer this country a model that appreciates the diversities that make the canvass of the Kenyan people.
By educating young people to play constructive roles in society with the vision of creating a better world, Scouting has continued to engage young people in community activities that help to improve lives and promote peace. Through the Messengers of Peace Initiative we work to train young people in dialogue, peace building and conflict resolution, support local peace initiatives, support young people living in “hot” conflict areas and to build the capacities of adults to support the young people towards the realization of a better and peaceful world.
In 2008, we stood in solidarity with the internally displaced persons and supported them in various ways at the IDP camps in Nakuru, Eldoret, Nairobi and other parts of the country as part of our duty to others. Through the provision of safe zones, pitching tents and constructing shelters, providing sanitation services, distributing food and clothing, and administering basic first aid, the Scouting movement contributed to addressing the humanitarian crisis that our nation faced after the disputed elections.
As we celebrate the would-be 156th birthday of Lord Baden Powell today; we, the Kenya Scouts Association wish to take this opportunity to call for peaceful elections. We urge our fellow Kenyans to give peace a chance. As we engage in the electioneering process we ask that peace prevails.
One man by the name Dwight Eisenhower did say that, “I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days’ governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.” And yes indeed, we need to do so much more. We must make everyone understand that without peace life would literally come to a standstill. Look at our neighbouring nations like Somalia, South Sudan and others that have experienced so many years of war. Do we really want to walk down the same road of violence? I am sure we don’t!
So even as much as it is our democratic right to engage in the political process, let us not forget that rights come with responsibilities. Maintaining peace is the responsibility of every single Kenyan, not a preserve of the politicians. Let politics not divide and cause us to hurt one another and to destroy our country. Kenya shall continue to exist and we shall still want to live in it after the elections.
We therefore urge every one of us to become Messengers of Peace in our homes, schools, work places, our places of worship, communities and the nation at large. Let us all take the pledge that:
We shall exercise our democratic right to vote for our candidates of choice in a peaceful manner
We shall not discriminate against each other on the basis of tribe, race, religion, gender, political affiliations or otherwise.
We shall not incite or be used to cause violence against any fellow Kenyans
We shall, by our own means possible, become Messengers of Peace and promote the unity of all Kenyans wherever we live or work
Guided by the words of our National Anthem, we shall put the interest of Kenya and its people before our own, with full regard of our duty to God, duty to others and duty to our own selves.
Dear brothers and sisters, God’s greatest commandment to all humankind is to love one another. During these very important yet trying moments in our country’s history, let us ask God to intervene. As we pray, let us pray for Kenya; that God grants wisdom to our leaders, love among all citizens and peace to our beloved country. That as we go to the elections, we shall vote wisely for leaders who shall unite all Kenyans to co-exist happily with one another.
I guess it is true that you never know the value of something until you lose it. We have, for so long, taken peace for granted. The challenge for all of us now is not to allow ourselves to be used for violence; but instead, to become the sober voice of reason that speaks peace and not war.
Nelson Mandela, in his book The Long walk to Freedom says, “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.” Brothers and sisters, our long walk to a peaceful Kenya is not yet ended. We need to work even harder to realize the peace we so much yearn for. So let us not relent.
The more we sweat preaching peace, the less we will bleed in war. Let us always remember to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Let us disengage ourselves from hate speech and instead talk of love. Let us all desire for a better country, a better community, and most importantly a better citizenry-that is driven by sound morals, good neighbourliness, brotherhood, love and all things good. By so doing, we shall contribute creating a better world for all of us and for the future generations of our children and our children’s children.
Finally brethren, as the Holy Bible says in Philippians 4:8 so we say to you today, “ Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Thank you! God bless Kenya. God bless us all.
Yours in Scouting
Nelson Ochieng OpanyNational Youth RepresentativeKenya Scouts AssociationEmail: firstname.lastname@example.orgWeb: www.kenyascouts.org