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March 4, 2014
Taken from the Northern Rift Peace Mission Newsletter
As long as history can recall, the Turkana and Pokot ethnic groups have organized cattle raids against each other. Conflict began as a result of livestock theft, and the two groups have since been through numerous periods of war. The escalation of violence between Turkana and Pokot communities shows no sign of ending, and it is becoming increasingly destructive and less manageable. However, after attending a Conflict Transformation training led by Dan Buttry, a young man named Boaz Keibarack found the tools needed to go into these villages and conduct peace talks between the two warring groups.
Boaz’s work was documented in the Pan African Peace Network newsletter, the organization started by a group who attended Dan Buttry’s Conflict Transformation training.
This North Rift Peace Mission in Turkana and West Pokot 2014 was funded by the Gavel Fund Grant from the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America. “North Rift” refers to the northern part of the Rift Valley Province, a former province in Kenya (named for the Kenya Rift Valley) that was dismantled into 14 counties after the 2013 Kenyan elections.
Continue reading below or click here to download a pdf of the full report.
The Rising of Boaz Keibarack
Boaz is a male Kenyan National belonging to a marginalized tribe of the Pokot, a subgroup of the warring Kalenjin tribes in the North Rift of Republic of Kenya. Boaz grew up as an orphan boy living in Kapenguria Maku-tano Town on the streets as a street child. This was after the mother married a new husband and Boaz culturally became a threat to the now new family inheritance; as a result he was sent a way and began to live on the streets of Makutano on his own. Boaz later returned to the Rift where he carried on the traditional nomadic lifestyle and participated in livestock raids. Boaz later faced his turning point when he became Christian through a very dedicated brother known as Peter Kiptoo Kendagor.
At one point Boaz looked after cattle to fend for himself and fund his education, and today as we speak Boaz stands at the cornerstone of the peace process in the North Rift involving the Pokot and Turkana. Boaz has been actively ministering the gospel and advocating for peace at the heart of this conflict at its bloodiest peak, he has been empowered for this peace work through the Ministry of Rev. Dr. Daniel and Sharon L. Buttry: Global Consultant for Peace and Justice for the American Baptist Churches.
Amani Movement—Freedom Walk
It was very evident that the local population does not own the peace process. However it was even worrying that the church leaders here in Turkana and West Pokot did not hold any self-identity with peace processes. After the peace mission at Kainuk, the church leaders for the very first time joined hands, this was evident in the freedom walk, as we prayed together during this nonviolent prayer mapping around the “Jericho wall.”
Both men and women held up hands and marched shamelessly forward. This was a very bold step against the prevailing attitude of disengagement. The Police tried to sabotage and the local leaders observed the proceedings with a mocking eye, none-the-less we matched forward raising our white flag, and surrendering all to Christ. With this movement, these cycles of violence will be over.
The participants together agreed to lay down their struggles as they felt that the Love of God had come. During this march, we had a very divine intervention, for the first time, it began raining down on the hot sands. Rain is a big deal here in Turkana and is considered divine. This was a clear sign to the community that this PEACE is the WILL of God. Amen to the Amani Movement.
The Peace Mission was graced with a team of four brave hearts: Papa Dickson (old man of the clan), Sarah (our Levite), Philip (the facilitator), Boaz (the inland coordinator). We trekked the monster roads and managed to blend into each other so easily, we handled a lot of pressure especially as we had to edit the original mission scripts from time to time.
Also to mention Dickson belongs to the Singwel Clan which happens to be a marginalized clan among the Pokot tribe, he was so brave to show up in the Mainstream Pokot during the workshops. Sarah is a Turkana and she risked it all when she decided to come to the mission especially in the Pokot territory. Together we faced our fears, trekked the volatile North Rift and so many times came face to face with death itself. With this Team still working, the North Rift still has Hope for PEACE.
Workshop at Kainuk—Turkana
A seasonal river marks the boundary between West Pokot and South Turkana, connected by a small one-way old bridge which is mostly used by cattle and goats. A few meters into the bridge we were ceased by a group of Turkana warriors, proudly holding guns, looking at us with burning eyes, and making sure that our car does not accidentally knock down not even a single animal.
One dead animal, even out of a thousand, could cost all our lives. We were welcomed into Kainuk with a desolate feeling. For safety we drove straight to the Chief Eyanae’s homestead where he asked us a lot of questions and later allowed us to proceed and meet the church leaders. We held a very contentious meeting with the church leaders. These pastors actually wanted us to give them a sitting allowance. The pastors also demanded that we meet a lot of conditions in order for them to allow the workshop. We had to pay for every little detail, in fact they did not volunteer whatsoever and this was very frustrating because we had hoped that they will actually eagerly embrace our Gospel Peace Initiatives.
However after the training in Conflict Transformation, the pastors made a 180 turn and supported this cause. In the end we laughed together, danced together and even ate rice and beans together.
These pastor’s are very needy, insecure and vulnerable and their hostile response to external help is fully accounted for then. The Trainings majored in Trauma Healing and Bible Transforming Initiatives due to the ongoing victim/ aggression cycles. Big Thanks To Pr. Daniel L. Buttry, Cons. Kathleen Murphy and Hon. Lance Muteyo for their input towards the facilitation Guide.
Karoon Village is a surviving community located 1 Mile from the center of the 2012 Crisis. Our Workshop held under the Daniel L. Buttry Tree, and was delayed by looming insecurity as sights of spies from Turkana had been reported. To make it worse Sarah is a Turkana and being part of our group created near bloodshed situation. There was also an elephant, which had been shot dead. As a result the village was on double assault standby from Government troops and Turkana Warriors. We missed a big percentage of the men and so trained the women, elderly men and children.
Active Participation in proceedings was minimal with the absence and consent of husbands. We carried on the training very well. We moved the village members in the desired cognitive direction. We donated rice, beans and cooking butter. Life at Karoon Village is a complete mystery and disaster and you can barely see any hope for tomorrow. The Pastors here where however more receptive and engaged.
Boaz had started a nursery school at Karoon village but it collapsed as the teacher was not facilitated and the parents where not cooperative. We met Alewu, a 10 year old boy, he was abducted by the raiders and later returned. At the Bottom of the Turkwel Hills is a school ravaged by war called Lonyangalem Primary School, which was built by brother Peter Kiptoo to help the Pokot and Turkana Children, about 40 children come to school here.
During 2012 Boaz rescued the children who had been held up here for 3 days with no food and water. These children have to fetch water every day from the Upper Hill dam almost 3 miles away. We donated rice and beans and cooking butter to the school and the children where happy about the rice since they have one chance at it in a year and that is during Christmas.
Teachers Joseph, Sam and Carol Volunteer at this school and they are very needy and vulnerable, their wage comes from the little food that is donated. Pastor Andrew helps with management issues at school. Education here is written in blood chalk with the presence of guns even at school. Indeed there is a dying breed of youngsters in this region.
The Pan African Peace Network is a continental Christian coalition formed in September 2013 during the Daniel L. Buttry All Africa Training of Conflict Transformations Trainers Seminar in Nairobi. This network forms a Forum for Peace Advocacy, Peace Training and social action among the member peace groups, outreaches, individuals and organizations. Gospel Peace Initiative Group [G.P.I.G] based in Kenya and Crossing Lines Africa [C.L.A] based in Uganda also come under the PAP-NETWORK to wage peace across Africa using Biblical Principles.
This North Rift Peace Mission in Turkana and West Pokot 2014 was funded by the Gavel Fund Grant from the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America. Brother Boaz Keibarack directly managed the Logistics of the Mission Under the Mandate of the great G.P.I.G. Philip Kakungulu facilitated the Conflict Transformation Trainings courtesy of Crossing Lines Africa.