The following is a report from our friend Boaz Keibarak on a series of Conflict Transformation trainings held from April 8-14, 2014 in four villages in the Rift Valley in Kenya. The trainings are an ongoing effort to ease conflict and tension between two warring groups in the region: the Pokot and Turkana. In October 2013, 135 people were killed during an eruption of violence in the area.
This project offered me an opportunity to identify unique ways of interacting with the local community to work with them to end the existing conflict. It is through this spirit that I hope the skills and spirit that were gained from this programme will continue to foster for peace locally, regionally, nationally, and across the globe.
May I present my report on the ongoing mediation and reconciliation programme through Conflict Transformation trainings funded by BPFNA through the Gavel Fund, in conjunction with Rev. Daniel Buttry, American Baptist Churches International Ministries Global Consultant.
The Conflict Transformation trainings occurred in four hot spot villages; specifically targeting people in the following groups: Local Council of Elders, Local Peace Committees, Seers Elders, Youth Warriors, and Women:
- 40 elders, 25 youths, and 33 women were trained at Riting Village - Pokot Community.
- 24 elders, 21 youths, and 28 women were trained at Kaakong - Turkana community.
- 86 elders, 49 youths, and 72 women were trained at Ompolion - Pokot community.
- 67 elders, 11 youths, and 29 women were trained at Kalemngorok - Turkana community.
The trainings employed a variety of methods fitting for the target groups to ensure cooperation with the objective of the project. The following were the tools most used to facilitate the training:
- OPENING & CLOSING PRAYER plays a vital role in mobilizing and sensitizing participants to pay attention to the training as everyone fears God.
- EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING CYCLE was the main method facilitators used to facilitate the training.
STEPS TO WIN/WIN SOLUTION
- MAXIMIZING AND MINIMIZING LEARNING used to mobilize participants to come up with peace resolution strategies.
- Due to illiteracy levels we minimized the use of posters and writing materials and instead we employed CONVENTIONAL METHODS: (Practical session and Participatory session, group work, experiencing sharing, plenary discussion and teaching through inputs from resources (e.g. Biblical Stories to disseminate the information.)
ACHIEVEMENTS AND OUTCOMES:
It is hard to measure the long term achievement of the project at this moment since transformation is a process. We will need more time to keep identifying the tangible result as time goes, but since the presentation of the project, the key outcomes are as follows:
Strengthened, restored and enhanced relationships and healed mistrust that has existed since the conflict erupted in 2011.
Laid a foundation for continuing inter-ethnic interactions and participation without fear and intimidation by either group.
Renewed and rebuilt the willingness and commitment of peace actors/structures to seek cooperative problem-solving strategies with their counterparts to foster peace.
Factors to generate peace and reconciliation were discussed and mechanisms for sustaining positive engagements and problem solving were designed.
A critical plan of action was agreed upon.
A mechanism for promoting inter-ethnic reconciliation was developed and adapted.
An early warning response plan was put in place to act in case of any rising conflict.
- The elders promised to keep youth warriors from doing thuggary exercises and instead to find alternative ways of living with their counterparts.
- Participants promised to meet their counterparts and seek forgiveness in an effort to create lasting solutions toward peace.
- Participants agreed to resort to other methods of settling boundary disputes instead of using firearms.
During the training, more participants testified to the importance of reconciliation and restoration; unity and togetherness.
CREATING A LASTING IMPACT
The following are some suggestions on making this peacework create a lasting impact:
- The need for sensitized seers elders to participate in peace building
- The ability to support and build networks/linkages to community peace structures. (One example of how this is working: During the training, some livestock was stolen from the Turkana community by the Pokot community. Peace Warriors from both tribes (women, elders, and pastors who attended the first training session) worked together to identify and recover the stolen livestock using the methods of peace learned in that training.)
One elder shared that, “It is easy to forgive, but it is hard to forget what has happened. But this training has touched my heart and motivated my willingness to forgive and forget all the bad things caused by our counterparts. Now I promise to do all I can to facilitate the processes for constructive reconciliation dialogue along the administrative border.”
Former Warrior named Longorot said that, “Kudos to Boaz and your team for this training, I have confidence that if we and the Turkana get this training in a joint forum session...it will dispel fear and [ease tension]...between us and the Turkana tribe.”
There is no doubt that this programme has achieved a lot whereby seers, leaders who were seen destroying the relationship of the two communities by supporting the violence are now taking part in peacebuilding activities.
Last but not least the training is a major tool that the project uses for nurturing a culture of peace through mediation and reconciliation, and there is need for continuous inter-peace training for these two groups.
Generally the project has brought change among communities, families, and individuals and enhanced their willingness and commitment to foster for peace. The project, however, has just a scratched the surface, and it needs to go further to include the following unreached groups:
Governors, Members of Parliament, Members of County Assembly, Members of Senates, Ministers, Judiciaries, Kenya Police Administrative, Communities, schools, Religion institutions and etc.
I would like to thank BPFNA, and Rev: Daniel Buttry most sincerely, for identifying me and providing me an opportunity to work with BPFNA in this important project. I have confidence that our presence in these areas has improved the opportunities for women, youths, and elders to introduce peace and reconciliation.
In my dreams I am seeing a peaceful society where Pokot and Turkana work together. May our almighty God raise us to great heights. Grant us success in our ministry to bring abundant peace and joy to the Pokot and Turkana communities.
PEACE AND JOY!
Boaz recently connected with our friend Lance (See Conflict Transformation at the Baptist Convention of Malawi) to conduct a training of chiefs, sub chiefs, village heads, kraal heads, chiefs of police, chiefs of council, pastors and the general public in Masvingo, Zimbabwe from June 25-27, 2014.
Sixty-four people attended the training (they were expecting 30), and the training went according to plan. The head chief of the Ndanga Clan, Chief Ndanga who is in charge of 254 villages, also extended his invitation for them to come back again and conduct several Conflict Transformation Workshops for Members of Parliament and Councillors in future.
Click here to see photos from the training.