The 2008 PEACE CARAVAN, themed “Vijana kwa Undugu Milele”, brought together Youth leaders from all the provinces of Kenya to join in the campaign for peace and reconciliation, going to the grassroots to showcase their solidarity and their brotherhood. Our team traveled for 21days from Nairobi to Naivasha, Nakuru, Molo, Kuresoi, Burnt Forest, Eldoret, Nandi Hill, Kericho, Sotik coming to an end in Kisumu. In each community we were able to perform peace-themed drama and theater presentations, sports challenges, road shows, workshops and motivational talks, and we showcased unique cultural conflict resolution systems we had learned from the different communities we had visited. The youth in the host communities also had an opportunity to showcase their own presentations and talk about the way forward in the reconciliation and peace building process which they thought would work best for their communities and which they would own and push forward successfully.
The National Response Initiative (NRI) is the coordinating mechanism for the national response to the violence that engulfed the country on December 2007. The NRI brings together Kenyan civil society organizations and representatives of an international Donor group, with the aim of providing a national framework to respond to the Peace building needs of the country and the quest to address the justice and human rights concerns that triggered the violence in December 2007. The NRI has so far received proposals from over one hundred organizations from across the country, seeking to intervene in the crisis. In the first phase, a total of 17(seventeen) proposals have been approved and funding disbursed. Voluntary Youth Philanthropists (VYP) gratefully acknowledges the support of NRI that made this PEACE Caravan possible.
Voluntary Youth Philanthropists, based in Nairobi, in collaboration with several youth organizations and the National Response Initiative (NRI), embarked on a peace building and brotherhood (Undugu) promotion awareness (advocacy) initiative that incorporated the use of camel caravan from Nairobi, Kangemi slums across the country ending in Kisumu, a distance of about 1600 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 visited the country in the recent past months.
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.
To offer an uplifting and positive expression of Kenyan culture that celebrates its rich diversity, thus highlighting unity in our diversity, and the contributions of Kenyans of ethnic affiliations.
This was brought out due to the fact that the caravan participants were drawn from different parts of the country and thus different cultures and originality. We were to stay together during the caravan, eat together, sleep in the same tents, travel in the same truck and nothing happened. We were able to co-exist together bringing out our diversity and showing that we can live together as brothers and sisters without harming one another.
To create a context for collaboration among youth and adults of all tribal identities, emphasizing a sense of common purpose that focuses more on unity than on differences, and which requires outreach, bridging, and working together for success.
The caravan participants were drawn from different tribal identities and different parts of the country.
To ensure a high profile for this multi-ethnic project, in both rural and urban communities, which will engage and intrigue people with its “spectacle”, as well as with the peace messages it will convey.
To promote the capacity of the youth sector to participate fully in the larger society.
The caravan events in the respective areas were organized by youth leaders on the ground together with youth groups drawn from the respective area we visited thus building their capacity in planning of activities and creating networks which will benefit them in future.
To develop youth empowerment through peer example.
Participants were leaders from the youth sector and met with youth in every host community, and jointly planned and implemented the cultural activities of the Caravan. This feeling of empowerment left the youths hopeful that they can do something useful with their talent. It is not a must that they get the white collar jobs but they can use their talents to earn a living and be prosperous people in the community. They can also use their talents to pass the message of peace as some of the caravan participants were doing during the performances. They can also come together as youths in the respective area and form a group and be able to do whatever we did there in future.
To strengthen the capacity for action of youth groups in community, and to promote community ownership of the Caravan, thus increasing the potential for action arising from discussion and exchange.
The caravan activities wherever we went had been organized by the hosting community only that we had to fit into their programmme and show case what we had after they showed to us what they had prepared. This proved as a good means of getting the issues affecting them since the community knows what affects it and thus a good way of initiating the dialogue forums in those areas that we visited form the issues gotten from their performances.
To create a context for discussion amongst youth and adults in each community.
This was evident from the many discussion forums that we held after each performance. We also had one on one discussion with the members of the community which were very successful. We were to harvest as many issues from every community that we visited and come up with a way forward them about those issues. It is evident a thorough follow up of all these areas is needed in the nearby future.
To plant a peace seed in many communities this will grow and develop for years to come.
We encouraged the youth to promote peace in their own communities, and across the country, through ongoing peace initiatives such as the creation of peace clubs in schools which we visited during our caravan tour, theatre groups using arts to address peace and development issues as we did in our performances, peace networks, forums in schools, peace activities within religious institutions and at public venues like marketplaces and other open places where they can hold meetings together. Young people need to be seen as peacemakers and peace supporters by the larger society–and also need to know that their generation can nurture, support, and promote peace–in part because so many young people took part in the post-election violence themselves. In addition, so many were victims of that violence, and what they saw and experienced will stay with them for some time to come. If Kenya is to have a peaceful future, it is crucial that youth are imbued with the understanding that they can act to secure it for themselves and their progeny as it was evident from the caravan participants themselves.
To encourage citizens to view the present situation from the perspective of others.
This was brought through the theatrical performances by the caravan participants. The performances were appreciated by the community members thus embracing our way of passing the message to them which is very essential in peace building because you are able to under stand the other person well and be able to analyze yourself for the common ground between you.
To strengthen networks of youth peace groups in different communities along the tour, and to encourage the creation of new youth groups stimulated by the Caravan tour.
The groups on the ground accommodated the caravan in all the areas we visited and creation of more networks on the ground since many youths were willing to join us and we took their contacts for more information after the caravan. It is important that they get training so that they can be able to start their own youth theater troupes and find something useful to do.
The 1,600 km Route:
Nairobi – Naivasha- Nakuru- Molo- Kuresoi- Timboroa- Burnt Forest- Eldoret- Nandi Hills- Kericho- Sotik- Kisumu
To prepare for the Peace Caravan, We brought together a total of 40 youth leaders from all over the country to undergo an intensive training on Peace building and the mechanisms on how the caravan was expected to be conducted in order for it to leave maximum impact on the ground. The 5 days residential training was conducted at CMM in Ongata Rongai starting from 28th April to 2nd May.
The training covered Self Awareness, Youth and Diversity, Conflict Management, Peace Building, Advocacy, Fieldwork planning, Active non-violence, Role of Youth in Post conflict Reconstruction, Cultural Exploration ( Peace and Advocacy – Use of Arts, Story telling, Poems e.t.c) and a one day field trip to Naivasha Kedong IDP camp.
At the end of the training, 27 participants were selected to take part in the peace caravan trail making sure that they represented the diversity of Kenya and captured representation from nearly all corners of the republic.
Day 1 – Peace Caravan Launch
The Peace Caravan was launched in Kangemi – Kihumbuini grounds on 3rd May 2008.
The occasion was graced by representatives from DFID, URAIA, Menengai High School, NAFSI Africa Acrobats, Eric Wainaina and many other well wishers. Before the start of the Ceremony, mobilization was done with the caravan participants joined by the NAFSI acrobats, Menengai High Students and other well wishers by doing a lap of honor with the camels around Kangemi shopping center to showcase on what they were going to be doing for the next 14 days.
Once the mobilization was done and the general public had been pulled to the grounds, there were performances by the Acrobats, Menengai High School Students, Eric Wainaina, Upcoming Youth musicians from Kangemi and the caravan participants also had a theater presentation of their own.
The VYP Director then took the gathering through the background of VYP, the concept behind the Peace Camel caravan and what was the expected outcome of the caravan. Due to time constraints and against calls for more performances from the public, the caravan trail was launched at 2 pm by mimi another, and the caravan participants enjoyed the camel ride around Kangemi community with the support vehicles. The journey through the Rift Valley to Kisumu had now started in Earnest and for the next 5 kilometers; the Caravan participants took turns riding the camels after which they all boarded the Truck to hasten the speed of the caravan our next stop being Naivasha IDP camp.
Due to the fact that we would not make it to Naivasha in time for supper, we made a quick stop over along the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway where we had our supper before continuing our journey to Naivasha. We arrived at the Naivasha Stadium IDP camp at around 8pm to a warm reception by the IDP camp community leaders and the Red Cross staff at the camp. They immediately showed us the spot where we were to pitch our tents and we set up making ourselves feel at home at the place where we were to live for the next 48 hours.
Day 2 – Naivasha (3rd May)
Our first morning on the Caravan was marked with confusion because for the first time, we woke up on tents and found ourselves in the open with minimal bathroom facilities and with the fact that we had to prepare our breakfast in the morning. It was an eye opener for most of us who had not yet appreciated the kind of dehumanizing conditions the IDP’s were living in and we found ourselves identifying and sympathizing with the.
All in all, we were able to pull ourselves together and a makeshift bathroom was soon available for our shower. We were also able to get some firewood and three stones and soon we had a much deserved hot cup of tea after a cold night in the tents.
After breakfast we left for Naivasha town where we were joined by Mortein Hayes from Peacenet and his colleagues. We went to Kedong IDP camp to collect participants from the camp, who were to join us for the day as they were still considered as outcasts in the town and most of them had never ventured there since the violence begun.
Our activities were to take place at the DC’s grounds so we set up our stage and public address systems there before doing a procession around the town passing the message of peaceful living and reconciliation among the residents of Naivasha town. Since we did not have our trade mark camels, we used the ‘bodaboda’ motorbikes which are the preferred mode of transport in Naivasha to announce our presence.
At the grounds the caravan team performed a theater magnate play, an unfair football game and also engaged the small children in a drawing session where they were encouraged to give a pictorial presentation of even during or after the post-election violence as they saw or understood it.
The participants from Kedong IDP camp also got a chance to explain a drawing which they had earlier done when we visited them during the training field trip.
We also had a dialogue session between adults from the various disputing communities where they were able to talk in earnest about issues affecting them and how they wished to have them sorted out.
Our day ended at 6pm when we returned the IDP’s back to Kedong and then we went back to our camping site. At the camps, we engaged the pupils learning at the makeshift school in the IDP camp in what their views were in as far as the violence was concerned and our immediate conclusion was that they needed a trauma counseling session since they were still carrying so many painful memories with them and were basing their future decisions on their past ordeals. All in all we were able to influence them positively before heading back to our site for supper and subsequently retreating back to our tents for a long deserved rest.
Day 3 – Naivasha – Nakuru (4th May)
Our stay at the Naivasha Stadium IDP camp came to an end and after breakfast, we went into un-pitching our tents and clearing our stuff from our two nights home. We were sad to bid goodbye to our hosts at the camp and the Red Cross staff who had been most helpful in ensuring that our first experience as IDP’s had been most smooth. We left Naivasha Stadium at 9am and started our journey to Nakuru.
At shell filling station in Nakuru, we were again sad to bid farewell to Mortein and his team who were proceeding to Molo for further visits. We proceeded to Nakuru Players theatre where we were to pitch tents for the next 48 hours. There we found our hosts – REPACTED ready for us and James Karongo, a member of REPACTED who was also with us on the caravan went ahead to show us our camping site and together with his colleagues from REPACTED made us feel at home.
After our sleeping quarters had been secured, we left for the Afraha Stadium IDP grounds to do abit of ground breaking but it did not start very well as someone had warned the to be harsh with strangers incase they were government agents sent to convince people to go back to their homes. Any way by the end of the day, we had been able to get through to some of them and went ahead to have useful discussions and also tried to understand their plight as Nakuru IDP’s. We went back to our camp for supper and then had an early night out in preparation for the following day’s activities.
Day 4 – Nakuru (5th May)
On this day we were to have three activities so we begun very early with our breakfast then started off.
Our first activity was to be at one of the most affected areas in the town – Free area/Kaptembwa. We got there and immediately went into mobilization which was followed by a drama performance by one of the local theatre groups. Our acrobatics team led by Ken Owino then took over marveling the crowd which also worked well for us as a crowd puller. We were then able to split the crowd into smaller groups to which we introduced the idea if dialogue and they took up from there and engaged in a most educative and fruitful dialogue session between members from different communities. They also had the chance to chart for themselves a way forward which they believed was workable for them. We then left for our second destination.
Our next stop was another affected area – Kaptembwa. Again we engaged in a fruitful mobilization making use of our acrobatics team and also the theatre group and caravan participants to notify the crowds of our presence and our mission in their neighborhood. Here we had a curtain raiser by TEARS and REPACTED, our partners on the ground. REPACTED performed a skit while TEARS had a dance. We also had a performance by an upcoming artist from Nakuru –McJex. After this, we had caravan participants engaging the crowd in peace building dialogues after which they gave their opinions on the way forward. We then left for our last destination.
Our last destination was Menengai High school. Our history with the school goes back to the days of the violence when they were able to come up with an educative skit on living well as neighbors from different tribal communities. Having also graced our launch in Nairobi, it was only befitting that we honor their invitation to visit them in their school where they hoped to share with us positive ideas of how we could further pass our peace message in the course of the caravan and true to their word, it became a learning experience for us. After having lunch with them, they got to business and took us through a number of thematic games that emphasized on team work where we were also encouraged to participate. After the games, they explained to us the ideas behind the games and what message they were meant to portray most of them being on team work and the importance of togetherness. We then engaged them in talks on peace building since some students in the school were actually living as IDP’s and how they could be of positive influence to their fellow students in times of conflicts. After a few other entertaining performances, we decided to end the day after a word from the teacher in charge and headed back to our camp at the theater.
We had our supper then joined our hosts, REPACTED for a few minutes of peace building discussions and they led by their leader Denis Kimambo gave us more tips and encouraging words on how to go about our journey. We then decided to call it a night and got back to our tents for a long deserved rest.
Day 5 – Molo (6th May)
Our stay in Nakuru was now over and sadly again we un-pitched our tents and cleaned the grounds at Nakuru player’s theatre of all our belongings. We then set on the one hour journey to Molo where we went straight to Molo Secondary School to put up our tents. After securing our sleeping places, we headed for Molo stadium where our activities for the day were to be performed. Here we found Kenya Army trucks in the act of returning the IDP’s who had camped there back to their farms. We set up stage and started our work.
The day’s performances were a skit by Karongo and Elser on sharing of resources. Ken Owino took over with his acrobatic stunts and then the dialogues and peace building session begun. Since most of our crowd comprised of returning IDP’s we dwelt mainly on messages of hope and acceptance to prepare them for the situation they were going to be in once they got back to their farms.
Squash it, a Molo theater group then performed a skit on the importance of living together as loving neighbors. We also gave a chance to WWF, who were also looking for people to work with from among the IDP’s on environmental issues to address the gathering and pass their message forth.
After we were through with our performances, we again employed the use of ‘bodaboda’ motorbikes to join us in doing a procession around Molo town passing the message of peace and reconciliation. After the procession, we went straight to our camp site for supper and then called it a night.
Day 6 – Kuresoi (7th May)
Our morning started with the journey to Kuresoi, one of Kenya’s hot beds of tribal clashes which had been evident even before the disputed polls. Once in Kuresoi, we set up camp at Kenjoke next to the Rapid Deployment Unit, a squad from the administrative police set up to deal with the tribal clashes in the area.
After our tents were up, we had our breakfast then set off for our first stop which was Sondu Village. Here we were lucky to find a market day in progress so we set up base next to the market and started our activities. We had in our company pupils from Kenjoke most of whom were IDP’s who performed songs, then they were followed by Squash it from Molo who also had a lovely skit. Our acrobats then engaged the crowed in a sizzling performance that left most of the crowd amazed. Our poet, Kalla Hassan also performed a peace themed poem before a rib-cracking session of imitating the voices of the President and the Prime minister in his call for peaceful co-existence.
Inspector Acholla of the RDU who had accompanied us in our peace building mission then took the crowd through the importance of ending violence and letting any disputes arising to be handled by the relevant arms of the law.
Our team also gave talks on peace full co-existence and reconciliation with Rachel and Achami setting the tone for the talks. We also had a few minutes of dialogue with the crowd in small groups where we emphasized on them their need to share resources if they were to continue living peacefully as neighbours, sentiments that were echoed by the youth and village elders from the community who also took to the podium and pleaded with the gathering to welcome back the returning IDP’s and help them settle down fast so that they could also continue with their lives.
We then left Sondu village for Kongoi secondary school. Along the way, we had the opportunity to witness the massive destruction of homes and farms as most of the houses we passed that had been owned by outside communities had been burnt to the ground and entire settlements were now just a shell of what human dwellings they may have been in the past. It was a sad moment for us evident by the immediate hush that befell the truck as most of us retreated to our thoughts, scared of imagining whatever scary experiences the occupants of the razed down dwellings must have gone through.
It was therefore a sigh of relief when we got to Kongoi Secondary school and got our minds thinking in a different direction. The school’s entire population was one tribe right from the administration, the teaching and support staff to the student body as all members from outside communities had never come back after the violence had erupted. The students had also actively participated in some acts of violence meted out on outsiders in their neighborhoods.
Here we were received by Charles Keter, a teacher at the school who was also part of those trained during the pre-caravan training. After the school had gathered at the sports field, the head-teacher officially welcomed us to the school and also took time to appreciate the work being done by the participants of the caravan. we then had our pupils from Kenjoke perform their songs before Squash it also performed a skit on the role of youth in decision making and the need to shun negative influence in their lives. Our acrobats also did their wonders before our team took the students through a brief session of self awareness and Perceptions led by Rachel. It was an informative day for them and to wind up, Achami who also comes from the area and had organized the activities emphasized on them to play the role of peace-makers so as to secure a good future for themselves and the generations after them.
As time was not on our side, we ended our visit to Kongoi and started our journey back to the camp. Along the way we were met by the sad situations that befell the returning IDP’s when we found a family abandoned in the open with no tent or makeshift housing to help them get through the cold night. We were able to stop over briefly and give to them the message of hope as we waited for help from the provincial administration who we had informed of this unfortunate occurrence and by the time we were leaving, a team from the D.O’s office was taking the family to a nearby school where they were to spend the night.
We got back to our camp late in the night and had our supper then retreated into our tents for a deserved rest.
Day 7 – Timboroa (8th May)
We left Kuresoi very early since we had a tough, rough journey ahead of us. We had a brief stop over in Molo for the participants to pick up some personal effects and try get some cash because they were running low on cash. We also restocked our kitchen supplies. We then left Molo for Timboroa which is a rough ride through the now impassable Eldoret highway. It was relief when we got to Timboroa and since we had no pre-arranged place for our tents, we went seeking help from the provincial administration who organized for us to be hosted at the police station. We therefore went about pitching our tents and making ourselves at home.
Once we had our sleeping quarters ready, we went to visit Seguton, one of the areas worst hit by violence in this locality. Here we found people still adamant to receive the message of peace as they were still crying foul from the results of the general election and subsequently the administration of the country. They were also not ready to talk freely and we could sense that some members of our group were starting to get scared. We however persistently and went about preaching our peace message and at the end of the day, it was a breakthrough for us when part of the gathering called us aside and gave us issues they wanted addressed before the message of peace could be well received in the area. Their issues were:-
- Stealing of votes.
- Unequal distribution of relief help.
- The constant arrest of members of their community by government forces.
- They were being provoked.
- Subsequently they said it was impossible for there to be peace in their area until these issues were addressed.
With this information, we called it a day and started our journey back to the camp. We all agreed that there was need to initiate community dialogue in this area which would subsequently lead to inter-community dialogue. Along the way, Achami, our group elder took time to talk to the caravan participants to ease the tension they had built from the tough and unwelcome situation faced at Seguton, the first since we started the caravan. All in all, the day was a success and by the time we were sitting down for supper, more lessons had been learnt on the situation in the country and how different communities wanted their issues addressed. After supper, we called it a day and retreated back to our tents.
Day 8 – Burnt Forest (9th May)
Day 9 – Eldoret (10th May)
We woke up fresh and rested and it was decided that we take the morning off to do a bit of general cleaning since most of us had dirty laundry. The morning session also acted a resting time and some ladies also took time off to groom themselves after a week of self neglect.
In the afternoon, we set up our stage at the show ground and started with a dancing competition. Next we had kalla performing his poem followed by a skit by Elser and James. Our acrobats also took the crowd through the tantalizing performances before a member of the community performed a song he had composed himself. We then started our peace building talks a session taken by Rachel before Achami came to wind up and split the crowd into groups where members of the caravan got busy engaging the groups in reconciliation talks. Among the issues raised in these group discussions were:-
- The need for the children to be put in a normal school environment where they could also be provided with uniform and also get the opportunity to prepare well for their exams.
- They were also skeptical about the resettlement issue because they were wondering where they would put up as their homes had since been demolished and they had nothing to eat.
- They also wanted to know how the compensation exercise would be conducted.
- There was also the request that it be organized for them to meet their neighbours first and have a dialogue with them before they be resettled back in their homes.
After the talks, we ended our function and went back to the camp for supper. Since it begun raining, we retreated back to our tents after supper.
Day 10 – Eldoret (11th May)
On this day we had two sessions.
Our first session was at maili nne which was one of the worst affected areas by violence in Eldoret. When we got there, we got into a bit of problems with the Mosque administration there since the grounds we had organized to use was next to the mosque and they felt this would interfere with their programs. After a short discussion we agreed to shift to a distance away from their premises where we set up stage ant started doing our mobilization. After the mobilization we did a round of introduction of the caravan and the participants and since there was still a tense environment around, we started off with a dancing competition. It was then followed by a skit, then a poem and then an acrobatic performance. Our team then went into a session of talks on reconciliation and forgiveness and also peaceful living which was done by Rachel and Achami.
Our gathering also had the chance to give their opinions on the way forward and they agreed that they were ready to live together, ready to forgive and ready to look at each other as brothers and sisters again.
We then went into dialogue groups and among the issues raised in the talks were:-
- The need for leaders to speak in one language and consult widely.
- There should be amnesty for those arrested as a result of the violence.
- The people were ready to live in peace.
- They were ready to welcome back those who had fled the area during the violence.
- They wanted leaders to visit the grassroots and to also use good language, not provocative language when talking to their wananchi.
- Relief items should be distributed equally to all those affected.
- Police harassment to be stopped.
After this morning session, we organized for a procession through town where we used bicycle bodabodas as we snaked through the town and announced our presence and mission. This procession went on until we got to our next area of operation which was Langas, another badly affected area just next to the showground.
Here we were warmly welcomed since most of the people here had already learnt of our presence at the showground and were eager to have us visit them and help them preach peace in their community.
We started with a dancing competition followed by a poem then a skit. We also had a short comedy before our acrobats took over. The part of reconciliation which they had been most eager for finally came with Rachel and Achami doing a marvelous job, backed up by Benedict. By the end of the session, they were in unison that they would embrace peace and were going to forgive each other and get back to living in peace. They also agreed not to let outside elements bring misunderstanding among them.
Unfortunately, the skies opened up on us and we had to terminate our program for the day with this heavenly blessing.
It had been a successful day for us because we had managed to create contact and networks at our stops. We had also been able to collect views from the local communities on how they wanted the peace building process to be conducted. We were also lucky to have gotten enough media presence from nearly all media representatives in Eldoret. We had passed our message successfully and since we had large crowds in both events, we were confident our message had reached many.
With this conviction, we went back to our camp site, had supper and called it a day.
Day 11 – Nandi Hills (12th May)
The journey from Eldoret to Nandi Hills was smooth and uneventful with a brief stop over at one of the tea factories to get a brief experience on tea processing. We reached Nandi Hills and went calling on the DC and the OCS both of whom welcomed us to the town and encouraged us to do all within our means to ensure that our message sunk into the people of the town because it was really needed there.
The residents of the town were however skeptical of our visit as they decided to keep distance and only watch the going-ons from afar.
We started with a foot procession which we also used as our mobilization exercise and to notify the residents of our mission in the town. It was quite successful and at the end of it we had a huge crowd gathered at the bus park which we had chosen as our stage for the day.
We started of with a dancing competition to attract the crowds nearer to the stage then did a round of introductions of the participants emphasizing on the composition of the team and the fact that it covered presentation from all corners of the country.
Kalla then went ahead to give our now signature poem and his trademark voice imitation of the President and the prime minister insisting on the need for acceptance and peace. He was followed by a skit then the acrobats also had their performance.
After the performances Immanuel Were, our representative on the team from Nandi Hills took the crowd through an introduction of VYP ending with an invitation to our director to further explain to the crowd our mission and also the need to maintain peace in the region. We also had an official from the Ministry of Youth Affairs addressing the crowd and also talking more on the need of the youth to take an active role in peace building.
After the performances, we went ahead to plant trees donated by the municipal council at Nandi Hills academy and some spots in the town center to mark our visit and peaceful mission in the town, an event in which we were also joined by members from URAIA. The growth of the trees was to signify the growth of the trees and the council said they would promote the nurturing of peace in the town the same way they were going to nurture the trees as the trees would forever be a reminder for the situation in which they were planted.
Afterwards, we took a late lunch in one of the hotels in town then set off to Kericho where we reached at 7.30pm just in time to pitch our tents, have supper then have a good nights sleep.
Day 12 – Kericho (13th May)
Our day in Kericho started with a visit to Kipkelion
We then came back to Kericho town in the afternoon for performances in the town. We started with lunch since it was raining by the time we got back. Just as we finished our lunch, the weather eased up and we organized a procession through the town with the help of bodabodas from the town. It was our most successful procession since as we brought the entire Kericho town to a standstill and even the politicians who were busy campaigning for the Ainamoi constituency by-elections could only watch with awe as the crowds left their gathering to join us in our procession. We took the opportunity to preach messages of peace and reconciliation as we went round the town and by the town we were getting to the grounds where our stage was set, we had a big crowd already gathered.
We immediately got to business with a round of introduction by the caravan participants followed by a poem from Kalla. We then had a local group from Kericho doing a comedy, a skit and a dance. They were followed by our Acrobatic team which by now had grown in number to also include James and Paul.
After the performances, it was time to talk about peace and the stage was set for Achami and Rachel who did a perfect job emphasizing on the cosmopolitan community the importance of peaceful co-existence and the need to start reconciliation and forgiveness so that people could go ahead with their lives and businesses. (The town was experiencing a shortage of some commodities because some businessmen had been forced to flee the town during the violence.)
The weather got rainy again so we were forced to call it a day and start our journey for Sotik.
We arrived at Sotik at around 8pm and went to pitch our tents at the Pastoral Center where we prepared our super and went to sleep.
Day 13 – Sotik (14th May)
We got up to a slow start since the town people were also late in going about their businesses. Most premises in the area opened as late as 10am so with that we went to Chebilat trading center which was the worst hit area by the skirmishes.
Once we had set up our stage, we went into a foot procession and mobilization exercise which did not last for long because of the small size of the center. Nevertheless we were able to get a big crowd so we got into our activities.
We started off with a round of introduction by the participants then engaged the crowd in a dancing competition. This made those who were standing further away also draw nearer to the stage. It was then followed by a poem by Kalla and a musical performance by an artist from the area. This was followed by performances by our acrobats after which we gave talks on peace building and reconciliation.
The crowd also gave views on their opinions in as far as peace building is concerned which were:-
- They agreed that from whichever community one belonged, they all needed peace so the need for peaceful co-existence.
- They thought it necessary for the border issue to be looked at as it was a constant trigger of violence in the area.
- They emphasized the necessity for the communities to live together again as they had grown to rely on each other over the years.
- They said it was necessary to explore other avenues of solving whatever disputes that may arise instead of engaging in fights.
After the talks, we again had to bring the meeting to an end because of the journey to Kisumu. We left Sotik for Kisumu where we reached at around 7.30pm and went straight to Tu-ungane Youth centre to pitch up our tents. In Kisumu, we had a night out to celebrate the end of the caravan since we were not going to get any time the following day to do that. We had our supper at a hotel in town then we each went back to the camp at our own pleasure.
Day 14 – Kisumu (15th May)
This was to mark the last morning of the caravan and it was already showing on the faces of people who had been together for 21 days and gotten to live together and rely on each other in situations as tough as they had experienced for the past 14days.
We started off with a visit to Kisumu Cultural Center where we planted trees before proceeding to Kisumu special school where we planted more trees.
After the tree planting session we proceeded to Jomo Kenyatta grounds for further activities. We set up stage after visiting the DC’s offices to notify him of our presence.
Back at the grounds, we set off with a play by the Tu-ungane youth. Since this day was dedicated to them to run their activities, they performed more poems and also another skit before our director took over with a talk on peace building.
The day was marked by a low turnout as the message of reconciliation was still not being well received by the residents.
We left Kisumu for our journey back to Nairobi at 2pm. We had a smooth journey up to Kericho where we stopped for an early supper before setting off again. Just before reaching Njoro, our support vehicle developed mechanical problems after hitting a pot hole and we had to wait for towing services to be organized from Nakuru which went late into the night. We arrived in Nakuru at 11pm and by the time we had found a place for the tow vehicle to leave us, it was past midnight and all we could do was spend the night in Nakuru as it was too late to continue the journey to Nairobi. We parked the truck in a filling station and spent the night in the truck.
In the morning we went briefly to Nakuru Players Theater where we were able to freshen up then proceed with our journey to Nairobi.