REPORT OF PEACE CARAVAN 2008NAIROBI TO MOYALE
Voluntary Youth Philanthropists, based in Nairobi, in collaboration with several youth organizations and Peacenet and MS Kenya , embarked on a peace building and development and brotherhood (Undugu) promotion awareness (advocacy) initiative that incorporated the use of camel caravan from Nairobi, Kware in Rongai across the upper eastern region ending in Moyale, a distance of over 2000 km. The use of camels was a sign of cultural means of transport, which was and is being used by ethnic groups in northern Kenya mostly arid and semi-arid areas. The youth looked at the positive cultures in their respective communities, which could be used for solidarity. A camel is also a cool animal, which could portray a sign of peace, which is believed that peace is in our mind. Majority of the people in Kenya have not seen the animal, which makes it fun for both the youth in the caravan and also an attraction to people both young and old which helped in mobilizing as many people as possible. It was educative to both the participants and the visited communities, meeting people and sharing information but at the same time very challenging. The diversity of the participants and their unity was also a challenge to the antagonizing communities especially since this unity was being portrayed by the youth who are widely blamed for the violence that occurs among communities in northern Kenya.
The Peace Caravan is an annual project, with a pilot project which was in 2004, to educate other young people especially those in rural areas, marginalized and the vulnerable.
1. Encourage the youth to promote peace amongst their neighbouring communities (urban and rural) through peace initiatives such as clubs, networks, forums in schools, religious institutions and social gatherings.
This was achieved through the passing of peace messages in forums and social gatherings when we entertained the youths through music and dance. We also formed networks in Moyale and Marsabit and helped strengthen the already existing networks on the ground. We also used games like football to pass the peace building messages.
2. Enhance collaboration between the youth and the traditional peace building structures e.g. DPC(District Peace Committee)
Through the various DPC meetings that we had the committees agreed to incorporate the youth and involve them in peace activities henceforth although much follow up is needed on this issue and ensure that the youth are involved in the process..
3. Raise public awareness on the marginalized regions of Kenya.
By the caravan participants going into the marginalized regions of Kenya and us having journalists with us raised public awareness of these areas. The caravan participants will this message by word of mouth and the journalist through print and electronic media.
4. Collect data and statements from communities to inform national policy the processes e.g. The TJRC ( Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission)
This was done by the caravan participants in all the areas we visited where they asked the community members what they thought peace, justice and injustice was. A document containing all these statements is being prepared and will be used in future.
The 2000 km Route:
Nairobi – Mukurweini- Nyeri- Nanyuki- Doldol- Isiolo –Archers Post- Losasia- Logologo- Hulahula- Marsabit- Moyale
The caravan took off to a momentous start by the caravan participants leaving their training grounds early morning of the launch day after a four days training in peace building and conflict transformation. This was to prepare them for the caravan activities. The launch was to take place at a place called Kware in Rongai. Beautiful in their caravan t-shirts the participants were in the Game Trackers truck that will be taking them through the entire duration of the peace caravan. The launch started with a colourful procession that went through the town of Rongai. The procession included the caravan participants being carried by camel and a convoy of vehicles. There were songs and dances which were used as` a method of mobilization. We arrived at the launch site where we found the stage already set and the public address already booming with songs.
The M.C. took over the session by introducing the caravan initiative to the members of the public and informing them of our presence. The M.C. was James Karongo the Nakuru V.Y.P coordinator assisted by Ben Sang from Nandi Hills. The first item on stage was a skit which touched on peace issues from the theatre team which formed part of the whole team of the caravan participants which was divided into various teams that included arts, sports and theatre. The following item was a performance by the acrobats who are also part of the team. It was at this point when a rare accident took place where a matatu came and hit the members of the public who were standing on the side of the road. By Gods grace no one was heavily injured. The police who were already informed of our presence there took swift action and came immediately and took the injured to hospital. After that incident, the acrobats went on with their performance to the thrill of the members of the public. It was at this juncture that the V.Y.P. director Rachel Wambui took over the session by taking about the caravan and its history from inception right back in the year2004. She also invited the Peace Net chairman Mr. Muragu to give his speech. She then invited the MS- Kenya country director to officially launch and flag off the caravan. We had the presence of partners who are also part of this caravan who were Uraia, Peacenet and MS- Kenya. The caravan left for lunch at CMM training centre where we had our lunch before leaving for Murang’a which was to be our first stop over.
We arrived in Murang’a at around four in the evening. We found a group known as Sponsored Arts for Education (S.A.F.E) waiting for us. They were to perform with us there in the town. After consultations with them we agreed on the ground where we were to put our stage and perform. We arrived at the site where the S.A.F.E artists put up their stage and started the mobilization. The people in this town turned up in large numbers to witness the show. The session started by the caravan participants and the other artists dancing to the beautiful tunes of the famous mugithi dance. This was followed by a short speech by the caravan director who introduced the team which was to perform. The performance was from the book of visiki which talks about peace co-existence among the different tribes despite our differences and cultural diversities. The performance ended very late that if it were not for the darkness we would have just proceeded on with performance since we had crowd which never moved away until the performance came to an end. The youth in this area complained of rampant harassment from the police in the name of being members of the outlawed mungiki sect where they are arrested as early as seven if found outside their homes. This was evident due to the fact that by seven most of the youth had already left the performance site. They also said that if one is arrested and the parent goes for a visit, the parent is also arrested. We would like to liberate the youth in this area by having more dialogue with them and making them aware of their rights and responsibilities. We even had to announce via the loud speakers to the police not to arrest them since they were coming from watching the performance. We then left for our next destination where we were going to sleep over for the night. Our destination was Mukurweini where we arrived safely and had our supper before retiring for the day after a long and tiresome day.
Day two started off with a beautiful morning in the forest region of Mukurweini. Breakfast was served at 8.00 after which we left for Wagee camp, a bird sanctuary and tree conservation park for a nature walk. The caravan participants were taken through a brief history of the Kikuyu community and the camp, the importance of trees and the place of birds and culture in the Kenyan Tourism sector. We were conducted through a guided nature walk at the camp among the birds worth noting were the endangered Hinds Babbler and the owls that are a preserve of the camp.
We then went back to out hosts for lunch before leaving for Kafuta shopping center for an afternoon performance. We set the stage before setting up the public address system. The music was started where the caravan participants danced to the tunes that played. The crowd started coming up slowly before we had huge crowd ahead of us to our amazement. The session started with the introductions and why we were there after which a skit was performed. It was touching on the relationship between the spread of HIV/AIDS and peace. This was followed by entertainment session to members of the public where we also gave out caravan t-shirts to the locals. The caravan director then spoke for a little while before inviting Njagi Gakunju a renowned elder and the from this area the CEO of AAR. He talked about the relationship between poverty eradication and peace building. We then had a session where the caravan participants mingled with the members of public and talked more on peace issues. We then left for final night here in this town where we had supper and retired for the night.
We woke very early in the morning and prepared ourselves to leave for our next destination which was Nyeri town where we are going to have a stop over and perform before leaving for Nanyuki where we were going to sleep over. After having our breakfast we left for Nyeri town. We arrived in Nyeri town safe and sound to a warm welcome by the community members from the town. We looked for a good site to put up our performance after which we started the session. The session included song and dance for mobilization after which we had the acrobats performing. The performance was taking at the heart of one of the slums in this town. This performance was followed by a skit from the theatre team which touched on peaceful co-existence among people from different tribes. We had a solo song performance by Ephraim one of the caravan participants which touched on how to live together among the different tribes of Kenya. After this the VYP director invited the central rift coordinator from Peacenet to address the members of the public. We had various representatives from different organizations in Nyeri who had come to witness our performances like Y-TAP. We ended our performances at this juncture and proceeded to our next stop over which was Nanyuki. After having our sumptuous lunch we proceeded on to our next stop over.
We arrived in Nanyuki only to find it raining cats and dogs. We were forced to postpone our performance and had a brief rest before proceeding on to Doldol. One unique thing with this shopping centre is that there is no network of both service providers and this proved to be a big challenge to most of the caravan participants. We arrived in Doldol safely at around eleven in the night. We set our tents and our lovely cooks prepared supper for us. The young villagers were eagerly waiting for us and came to join us for the rest of the night. The elephants had strayed from the forest and were being chased by the wardens and we were forced to put up a fire till morning to scare them away. We had been hosted by an organization known as Yiaku Peoples Association (YPA).
We woke up very early in the morning to go and bath in the small river present in Doldol. This was a great experience for most of the caravan participants since they had never bathed in the river before. After having our breakfast we left for our activities for the day. We had a football match, volleyball match and a DPC meeting. The games started in the morning and the Youth and DPC meeting in the afternoon. The games were very interesting and our team lost to the youths from Doldol. The DPC meeting went on well but the issue about the youth and DPC did not come out very well. We later had an evening performance which involved the youth from Doldol. The discussions were about the youth and school strikes. The discussion brought out a lot of issues from the students. We later retired for the night but had an open air dancing session with the youths from Doldol.
We left the following morning for Isiolo where the youths were eagerly waiting for us. We arrived to a heroic welcome after which we attended a peace football match that had been organized that day. We had split into two groups where the other team had gone for the DPC meeting where they discussed about the youth and DPC where the elders agreed to involve the youths from that area in peace activities. After this we retired for the night at the agricultural training centre which was our camping site. We were hosted by Pastoralist Women For Health and Education.
The following morning we woke early to prepare ourselves for the long day ahead. One of us was to participate in a peace race organized by the host organization and the rest of us were to participate in a process on around town which was to culminate to a performance in town. The procession was good and we arrived at the site where we were to do our performances. We received the athletes from the race and started our performance. We were to have a small arms demonstration from the administration police officers where the public really liked the session. Other performance included dances from the local troupes in Isiolo and theatre from the youth groups present during the day. We had religious leaders present and elders from different communities in that area. The performances came to an end at around two in the afternoon after which we went for lunch before leaving for an evening rest in one of the posh hotels in Isiolo for a team building exercise. The caravanees had fun together since they were to mingle by playing games and dancing together. After this we went for supper before retiring for the night.
We woke early the following since our destination was far in one of the forests in Losasia where we were to meet morans. After having breakfast we left for Archer’s post where we had a brief performance before leaving for Losasia. We arrived in Losasia to find the morans already waiting for us at the water points otherwise known as lagers. Another thing was that almost all the morans present for the peace meeting were all armed and hid their guns while coming for the meeting. This was a unique day for the morans and the caravanees since we had a chance of mingling with people who never had e a chance of meeting people from the outside world. We had an icebreaking session which involved dancing together with the morans. One barrier was that most of them never understood Swahili but we interpretators who made communication easier. We also had the chief present and a number of elders. They expressed their joy by dancing for us traditional dances and songs after which we bought for them goats to go and slaughter and enjoy together. It had been planned that we spend our night with them but due to unavoidable circumstances we had to proceed back to archer’s post where we spent our night in one of the camp sites belonging to a local women group. This was organized courtesy of the Samburu Nomads Integrated Programme. This was a unique night since we had some nyama choma from the goats that we bought from the morans in Losasia. We also had some music for the youths from this area that enjoyed with us till the wee hours of the morning.
We left early the next morning for Logologo which was located very far and a few kilometers away from Marsabit town. After having our breakfast we left for whole day drive to Logologo. It was very hot in this area and hence forcing the caravanees to take lot water. We arrived in Logologo at around four in the evening to a welcome by the chief and the youth from this area. We headed for our campsite after which we had a procession before settling down for a performance. One outstanding thing to note about this area was that it is located in a remote area but majority of the residents are learned and could understand English and Swahili very well and at least there is some development in terms of infrastructure. The youths from the area performed and taught the caravanees two new songs on peace. They also had a skit which touched on how the morans carry out a raid and revenge. The caravan team also had their performance besides the ones from the youths in this area. We left for the night where we were joined by the youth in this area. Another outstanding thing that happened during this day was that we had the unfair football in the dark which in turn led to a very long dialogue with the youths bringing out the issues of tribalism, unfairness in the distribution of resources and the fight for grazing land. They also brought out the issue of the Kenya Police reservists whom they said should be present in every home for security purposes. They were also suggesting that they be given fire arms to protect themselves from the cattle rustlers. The youth from this area were very enthusiastic about the initiative of peace building and promised to take it to another level since they had never witnessed such an occurrence in their area before.
Early the next morning we left for Hulahula where it was to be our entry point into Marsabit town. We arrived to find the youth waiting for us and welcomed us with songs and dance. We were to first have a small session with the youth from the area before and then we had a blessing ceremony form the elders in this area. The blessing ceremony stated by a bon fire been lit which was symbolized that for us to have peace we have to have light in our lives and if there is darkness we cannot have peace and stability. The ceremony was quite unique since all the caravanees lined up after which we passed in between the elders with them blessing us. We were not look behind since if one looked it meant that you have forfeited all the blessings that you had from the elders. Another instruction was that if you left anything behind before the ceremony you cannot go for it since you will also have forfeited your blessings. After the blessing ceremony we proceeded on to the crash site where our leaders perished in a plane crash when they had gone for a peace meeting in Marsabit. We had a brief history of the crash site after which we had short prayers in remembrance of our leaders before proceeding on for a big procession into town. The youth from this area were instrumental during the procession together with the caravanees. The host organization was MWADO and CJPC Marsabit and had made adequate preparations before the caravan arrived. The town was brought was to a stand still since they had never seen such a thing before. The procession attracted a big crowd with the DJ playing tunes of their favourite artist in their town and their local music. The climax of the day was the main show at the Marsabit stadium where a big crowd had already gathered waiting for us. We arrived and set up the stage in preparation for the performance. The youth from this area had prepared themselves with performances that included songs, cultural dances and skits. We had also prepared ourselves with performances which included skits, songs from the artists that we had in the caravan team and acrobats. The football team had also prepared for the unfair football. Also present was the area chief who had come to represent the government. The host organization had done good work in mobilization of the youth for the caravan. The performances went on well and the speeches for the day with the unfair football and the acrobats performances being the climax. After the dialogue on the unfair football we had some entertainment for a while before retiring for the night at the Marsabit Pastoral centre where we had a hot shower. It was in this town that the word caravanees originated since the host referred us that way.
The following day was unique since we were to spend the whole of it with the forgotten IDPS of Marsabit. We woke up early and had breakfast. We split into three groups since we were to visit three different camps. The first group had a larger team since they were to assist in building a toilet for the Badasi camp. We all left in the truck for the dispensary where there the MWADO’s offices are and where the medical was to take place. We were to spend our night here together with representatives from the different camps. We split into the three different groups and left for the three camps. The situation in the camps was very pathetic. They live in very dilapidated houses with no water, food and sanitation equipment. The toilet that was built in one of the camps was one of its kinds since the camp began. The children are malnourished and their feet full of jiggers. Their education status is low and their parents too are depressed due to the situation. They came here as a result of the Turbi massacre and have been living here since then with nobody looking into their affairs. The caravanees were emphatic of the situation with some vowing that they will never say that they have problems and some coming up with suggestion of how we can help these people. They were reluctant to talk to us since they complained of being used by people who come and picture them take their stories and never help them. We managed to convince them and finally they agreed to talk to us. We finished building the toilet and putting it in place after which we opened it officially. We then had a dialogue session with them where one of them performed a poem which talked of the history of the camp and how it came into being. The director then addressed them and promised them to look at the issue of the jiggers and get back to them soon.
We then all met at the dispensary where we had the representatives of the different camps meeting. This was a meeting of its kind since there is no single time where they have ever met before. They dialogued for a while after which the D.O. gave the speech on behalf of the Minister of Northern development who was to grace the occasion but could not make it. This was followed by performances from the youth hence marking the end of the occasion. It was now the youth turn to take over with song and dance. Communal food had also been organized where all people from the different communities and camps were to eat together as a sign of unity. The old started first and then broke into different groups as they prepared to sleep. We slaughtered five goats which were then prepared differently by our lovely cooks. As this went on the youth were enjoying themselves by dancing to beautiful tunes played by the DJ. When the food was ready we ate together and then went on with the dancing till the wee hours of the morning.
We woke early next morning ready for a very long journey to Moyale which would mark the end of the caravan. We had early breakfast after which we left for Moyale. The journey took us the whole day. We arrived in Moyale at about five in the evening to find the host organizations World Vision, C.I.F.A. and the DPRC of Moyale eagerly waiting for us. We then went round the town as part of mobilization for the following day activity. We then left for our camp site. We first had climate setting session with the host people after we pitched our tents and had supper before going to sleep early since all the caravanees were very tired.
The following day was very good day since we first started by visiting the area D.C. who gave us the go ahead of doing what we were doing and was supportive of our initiative. We then left for a very huge procession around town which the town to a standstill since the residents had never before witnessed such a huge and magnificent activity. The mobilization pulled one of the biggest crowds ever seen in all the towns we visited during the caravan. The procession headed to the stadium with the huge crowd following it behind. We first had the prayers then the speeches followed something that was unique in this town only. After the speeches we had performances from the caravan team and the local youth groups mobilized from the town. One outstanding thing about this town is that it borders Ethiopia but the difference is that there is no tarmac road on the Kenyan side but as you cross the border the tarmac road begins as you head to the Ethiopian side. Life on the Kenyan side is very gloomy and dark but vigorous and beautiful on the other side of Ethiopia.
In the afternoon we had a chance of visiting Ethiopia where heavy lunch had been prepared for us in one of the posh restaurants just across the border. After having our lunch we had an opportunity of going round shopping and having a few drinks together as the caravan team to mark the end of the caravan. We stayed together there until around seven before coming back to this other side across the border and started our bash officially. We danced till morning reflecting on how long the journey was and our achievements from the caravan. We woke early since we had a youth dialogue with the youth from Moyale. They were reluctant to dialogue but the few who spoke talked of tribalism, unequal distribution of employment opportunities and neglect from the government. We told them that the solution to their problems lied with them and they had to work extra hard if they were to improve their condition.
We then had our lunch before starting the long journey back home. We arrived in Marsabit at around ten where we had our supper before retiring for the night at the pastoral centre. We woke early next morning and left for our next sleep over which was Nanyuki. We arrived there at around nine and had our supper. We went to camp at the Lion’s Court hotel one of the big hotels in Nanyuki where we also had a small party to overcome the tiredness after retiring to sleep. We also had our breakfast here in the morning. We hoped to go for elephant riding the following day but it was not possible since we had not booked early. We left for Nairobi but had a stop over in Nyeri where we had lunch. We arrived in Nairobi at around nine where we unpacked the truck before leaving for our different destinations.
1. We managed to create more networks on the ground like in Murang’a we met with S.A.F.E, Marsabit the youths created a movement and in Moyale they also started a movement to bring the youths together known as Moyale youth for peace and development through this we made more contacts on the ground.
2. In all the areas we went to the local youth groups participated in the caravan through mobilization in the procession and performances during the main show which involved the public. Through this we identified talent and took contacts of them to help them advance on their talents.
3. We were able to pass message on the role of youth in the DPC’S to the various committees although not all of them embraced the idea most of them promised to look into the issue and hence achieving one of the objectives of the caravan.
4. Community ownership of the caravan was very evident during the caravan since every where we went we were welcomed with both the community members and the administration present an indication that they welcomed the idea and embraced it. A good example is logologo where they decided to go on with peace activities that we had started in their area.
5. We reached out to forgotten members of the community like the morans in Losasia and the IDPS in Marsabit where we left a very big impact in their lives.
6. We faced the challenges that the youth and people in the marginalized feel and we learnt that we should be thankful of the situation that we are in and should not forget the people from these areas. It was a good experience learning time for most of the caravanees who had never faced such challenges before like the hot weather, the dust and being thirsty all the time.
7. The coming together of the caravan participants from different parts of the country and from different ethnical and cultural background and diversities was also a huge success since this acted as a sign of unity among Kenyans for all the caravanees traveled, ate, slept, performed, worked and cooperated together during the entire duration of the caravan
1. Time management proved to be a big challenge to the whole of the caravan team hence forcing us to dedicate less time to some of the areas which required more attention. This was caused by the long distances in between the towns where the performances took place.
2. Financial resources came in a bit late hence affecting the initial stages of the caravan which were very critical and hence the areas we were visiting were remote and needed early preparation in terms of cash.
3. The weather was also a challenge for most of the caravan participants since the sun was very hot and this left them dehydrated.
4. Lack of cooperation and indiscipline among the caravan participants was very rampant. This contributed to lack of effective delivery in terms of content to the community. Most caravan participants were lazy and were reluctant to carry some chores and participating in the mobilization during the procession hence a burden to others who were active.
5. There was conflict between the partners on who should handle what and when which led to derailing of some the things that had to be done hence a barrier to effective and smooth running of the caravan. There was no equal treatment of all the caravan participants since some were being favoured and this also brought conflict among the caravanees.
1. We recommend that the financial resources be released earlier for the effective planning of the initial stages of the caravan which are very crucial.
2. We recommend that if we could have such performances in such an area in the afternoon and than have the dialogue in the morning we could save the energy of most of the caravan participants.
3. We recommend that the selection criteria be thorough and be given enough time if the caravan is going to achieve 100% in terms of delivery of service.
4. There should be a clear agreement among the partners before the caravan on who should what and at what time to avoid conflict during the caravan. All the caravan participants should be handled equally despite where they come from and background to avoid conflict among them.
Peace Caravan is envisaged to be a learning experience and building networks for volunteerism, peace and development to the participants.
We first would like to thank all the donors who cheaped in to ensure that the caravan ran smoothly without a hitch financially. We would like also to thank all the organizations and individuals who participated and contributed to the success of this caravan. We would like to acknowledge the hand of the almighty God for if it was not without him we would not have finished it safely and securely through the entire duration of the caravan since even no one was seriously ill. Finally we thank the entire VYP management team for ensuring that we had a smooth running of the caravan and that everyone went home happy and also coming up with this noble idea of the youth peace caravan.