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Crossing Borders for Peace: A Conflict Transformation Training on the Border of Uganda and Kenya

from Boaz Keibarak

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April 28, 2015

Crossing Borders for Peace: A Conflict Transformation Training on the Border of Uganda and Kenya

Boaz (middle) and those trained during the Conflict Transformation Training of Trainers.

It was a long journey with a lot of fun; we travel with some folks whom they were carrying their children following the holiday that arrived from school closer week ago. The children study Kenya but based in Uganda. In my opinion Kenya is considered to be best in education investment even despite of the insecurity facing the country. 

My wife Sofia and I departed from Kenya at 8:21AM and arrived in Uganda Amudat District at 11:23PM. Reaching our destination, we were welcome with a kind reception by the pastor’s wife and the children we found at Amudat Centre. A few minutes later, were taken to where refreshments were put on the table for introductions and surprise! The pastor and my wife happened to be of the same clan line. This motivated our stay as we found ourselves not strangers but residents of the family as the clan line is more valuable and respected in our tradition.

The terrain is horrible from Kenya to Uganda, but in God’s will we traveled safely. The border was strict and we had to stop for a check up by the border traffic administration (Uganda Police Defense Force). We were asked to show identification cards due to recent attack of terrorist in Northern Kenya Garissa University. The area had received rain as a blessing but it turned to be a problem, as the heavy rain caused flooding, which caused the destruction of schools in the area and also destroyed some homes of the residents leaving them displaced.

CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION TRAINING OF TRAINERS OBJECTIVES:

  • To build the capacity of the Kenyan and Ugandan border communities with Conflict Transformation
  • To create a shared vision and partnership to embrace peace in the Kenya/Uganda border region
  • To explore Baptist peacework across the border of Kenya and Uganda
  • To create awareness of the Peace Campaign Amani Yangu Jukumu Langu
  • To strengthen good relationships between the East African pastoralist community
  • To work on the restoration of peace across borders
  • To Explore the Biblical Approach in Conflict Transformation
  • To improve participation, interactions, and social cohesion amongst Kenyan and Ugandan Peace Actors
  • To promote cross-border activities and exchanges to enhance levels of interaction
Boaz going over approaches used in Conflict Transformation.

The training was held in the Amudat District also known as Karamoja cluster due to mixture of pastoralist grazing their livestock together. Itborders Kenya in the West and Uganda in the North East. The region is populated by three tribe communities (Karamoja, Pokot and Turkana) located along the border of Kenya and Uganda. Karomoja tribes are the majority while Pokot and Turkana are minorities in the region. Access to pastures and water for the livestock of the minority groups have been minimalized by the majority group. This has caused daily conflict over sharing of the resources.

The training brought together key leaders from the mentioned communities, and some of them are reformed warriors and widows. The turnout was 28 while it was expected to be 30 attendees. This was due to flooding that destroyed properties and also displaced some of the expected participants.

REFLECTION OF PAST CONFLICT

One of the reformed warriors asking for forgiveness.

The facilitator employed Biblical tools from the book of Genesis 20:21-34, Acts 15:35-45. Social Transformation Actionand the Animal Game (Rhino, Koala, Fox, Dolphin and Turtle) were easy learning tools as they reflected the clan line age of the people with their characters on how to tackle the conflict in a constructive way.

Peacebuilding Approaches i.e. Social, Structural, and Political were covered. Participants were able to demonstrate the learned skills through group work. During the training each group participated interactively and therefore it opened sessions/opportunities for expression, apology, and forgiveness by victims and culprits of the past atrocities as a way of reconciliation and healing.

This came after one of the widows expressed how she and her co-wives were traumatized by the cattle rustling conflict that killed their beloved husband and left a number of nine widows and more children without father; one of the reformed warriors (who is now a peacemaker) posed for apology to the widows on behalf of the other warriors, and forgiveness was granted by the victims of the past conflict.

CO-WIVES CONFLICT

Men as a source of family conflict: During the participatory session women raised complaints over child discrimination by their fathers. Due to the tradition that give men the right to marry as many women as they wish, some men have started to love the children of a new wife and abandoning the children of old wives. This has caused the women to start hating their co-wives and blaming them for their husband abandoning his children.

A group of widows and their children.

Another woman shared the conflict that they have been experienced with their co-wives. She was wife number nine in the family and later the husband died leaving all of them as widows. Since then life has been hard for them especially in providing needs for children. She also shared that this has made some of their children to stop their education due to the expense of school fees, as their late husband was the provider of education needs for the children. She was talking in painful expressions with tears falling, which paved the way for forgiveness and healing. “On behalf of my fellow co-wives and children I forgive those who killed my beloved husband and raided all livestock for my family. We were left widows and the children were left without livestock or any alternative livelihood. I request that you (Boaz and the Baptist brethren) to support our children on education matters and to go further and help the widows to overcome the poverty challenges and address the development of our society too. If our children will not have access to education they may decide to take in the footsteps of their late father, but if they are educated they will be able to change the family and society as education is the key for this generation.”

She suggested that the children may be taken to boarding schools where they can access conflict transformation education as it will prepare them to be peace warriors from childhood, and in this regard, they will know constructive ways of solving conflicts at all levels and peace will prevail.

One of the reformed warriors also requested for the training to go further to Nakapiripirit, Moroto and Southern Sudan. They called for another training and also a follow up of the training. They promised to spearhead the Amani Jukumu Langu Initiative to the unreached places.

EDUCATION FOR PEACE

Participants holding up the different Conflict Transformation personality styles (Koala, Dolphin, Fox, Rhino).

From the voice of a participant I learned that the communities from this region place a high value on livestock, earlymarriages of girls (dowry), and ownership of guns. As a result, they place very little premium on education. The few girls who enroll in school withdraw for marriage while boys are mainly preoccupied with herding livestock. This lifestyle, like raiding, also stagnates the general development of the communities.

There is a need for sensitizing communities on the value of education especially in the modern competitive world. There is also need to establish boarding primary and secondary schools, establish non-formal and formal education to rehabilitate former combatants and school dropouts.

Women also requested for restocking and rehabilitation approaches for the widows or families victims of conflict to be provided with materials to rebuild their shattered lives, livelihoods, and houses. Such assistance could include construction of houses for the displaced; provision of seed money; Capital funds to enable them start small-scale businesses; construction of schools, hospitals, and sanitary facilities. They should also be assisted with farm inputs so that they can engage in farming activities.

THANKS

Special thanks go to the BPFNA family and Rev. Dan and Sharon for their continuous financial support. My thanks also goes to PAN-PET and the 2013 TCTT Family for their prayers and encouragement. And I challenge all TCTT graduate or non-graduate around the world to create peace and justice awareness locally, regionally, and globally. I was trained and I am exploring the Kingdom of God. I also encourage you to join the initiative for the glory of God. In this way, peace will be realized through educational methodology.

Finally but not least it is my sincerely request to you reading this noble report to join hands with me in building peace through education by contributing to construct Peace Academic Schools/Institutions for the orphans and vulnerable children of the conflicting tribes of Turkana, Pokot, Karamoja, Sebei, Luhyas and other tribes around the world. We want to nurture the culture of peace through education by bringing the children of said tribes together as a way of building a peaceful generation through this institution that will spearhead the spirit of living in harmony and fostering peace.

Prayers and financial support is needed for the peace projects, my hand is open, is your hand open? Then let’s shake hands and implement the following Peace projects!

  • Construction of Peace Academic Schools for orphans, vulnerable children, and street children
  • Tana Delta Reconciliation Conflict Transformation Training of Trainers
  • Inter-Tribal (Pokot and Turkana) Peace Mediation and Reconciliation Dialogues
  • Australia Conflict Transformation Training of Trainers
  • Peace Exposure Tour
  • Cross border follow up

!AMANI YANGU JUKUMU LANGU!

Report Submitted by Boaz Keibarak
Peace Ambassador and President
Kingdom of Peace and Development



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