When I received this full letter sent by Kenyan Friends (Quakers) to the two disputing leaders about the state of Kenya and the election and the contextualizing comments from David Zarembka, I felt moved to share it on Riehlife. As Dawn L. Rubbert from the St. Louis Quaker group says, “This is important history. It is most decidedly an example of speaking truth to power. These Friends have raised the bar for us here in the US.”–JGR
Here are the comments from David Zarembka, Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams. David Zarembka lives in Lumakanda, Kenya in Western Province and is married to Gladys Kamonya of Kenya. These comments above the formal statement provide more context.
1. Five or so years ago Friends in Kenya were not united in one body so they would not
have been able to issue such a statement. This letter shows that the Friends Church in
Kenya can become a force for peace and justice in Kenya.
2. The letter indicates a strong position on the Friends Peace testimony.
3. Unlike similar communications from yearly meetings in the United States, this statement is aggressive and bold.
4. The statement may even challenge the northern countries assumptions that this is
essentially an old ethnic conflict.
5. The statement ends with a litany of all the work that AGLI and others have been
promoting for the last decade.
PASTORAL LETTER FROM FRIENDS CHURCH (QUAKERS), KENYA.
“Righteousness exalts a Nation, but Sin is a disgrace to any People” (Proverbs 14: 34)
TO THE LEADERS OF THIS NATION
His Excellency the President Hon. Mwai Kibaki & Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga
At this time, of pain, horror, sorrow, suffering, insecurity in our beloved country, We as Friends Church in Kenya, being a PEACE church, are deeply concerned for the safety of ALL Kenyans and friends visiting Kenya during this time of Political and Social Instability. May we start by referring to our Quaker values which have guided us over the past four centuries.
Quaker Peace Testimony
“We actively oppose all that leads to violence among people and nations, …. Refusal to fight with weapons is not surrender. We are not passive when threatened by the greedy, the cruel, the tyrant, and the unjust. We will struggle to remove the causes of impasse and confrontation by every means of non-violent resistance available. We must start with our own Hearts and Minds. Together, let us reject the clamor of fear and listen to the whisperings of hope.
Our Principle is, and our practices have always been: “to follow after righteousness and the knowledge of God, seeking the Good and welfare of humanity and doing that which tends to the peace of all”
As Friends Church, our Goal is to have a Peaceful Society anchored in and as a consequence of the process Truth, Righteousness and Justice (Ps.89v14).
Our basic Principles and Values that under-gird our concerns compel us to make this call to you, our political leaders. These include truth, peace and justice, simplicity, and the sacredness of life.
o Truth is critical to the establishment of legitimacy for the political class, that is, presidency and the opposition, if they are to enjoy the loyalty and respect of all Kenyans. This can only be achieved if the objective truth is that the Elections were “Free, Fair and Transparent”. For us, “the Spirit of Christ, which leads us into all TRUTH, will never move us to Fight and War against any person with outward weapons, neither for the Kingdom of Christ nor for the kingdoms of this world”. (Luke 22:49-51), (2nd Corinthians. 10:4)
Peace and Justice:
o Kenyans are sad, angry and disillusioned today. We call on all parties to look back to 30th December 2002, when all Kenyans collectively celebrated the “hope” of a united democratic and prosperous society.
o We call on all people “to object to everything which leads in the direction of war, preparation for it or supporting it! Our faith challenges us as to whether we are now ourselves to become a divided people, swept along by the streams of mistrust and fear, arrogance and hatred which produce tensions in the world; or whether by our own decision, confidence, and courage, we can become a bridge linking those elements which promote truth, justice and peace.”
o This battle is not about ethnicity per se, rather it is about economic injustice, and the youth across the board bear the brunt of it. There is an icy gap between them and the older age. There was hope and expectation that this nation would be steered towards a more democratic, united, just and prosperous society, where development would be experienced by ALL hardworking Kenyans.
That hope was rekindled, with their participation in the just ended elections and the youth in particular saw the possibility of moving forward for the betterment of their lives. They feel “cheated. They are expressing anger that the rich are getting richer, while the majority are living on less than one dollar a day. “A hungry person is an angry person”. Justice is what they long for.
o Quakers believe in modesty, serving humanity in love and harmony. In Kenya, there are gross inequalities in terms of sharing the scarce opportunities and resources. The rich are “Very Rich”, while the Poor are “Very Poor” and the gap is widening. From the looting that has been witnessed across the board, it’s clear that the present up-rising is not per-se ethnic, but rather, to a greater extent, “a Class-Struggle”. “Money bags” “Rich-ness”. “Quick money-making” e.g. pyramid schemes, have been glorified. The affluent conspicuous consumption and obnoxious display of wealth of the upper class, in a sea of poverty, have not helped.
o The hopes and opportunities for the poor (have-nots) for upward mobility have been frustrated by continuing “joblessness” and false promises by politicians. The underlying perceived injustices of our economic disparities must be urgently addressed. A genuine honest and sustainable commitment to redressing the imbalances should be made. Otherwise we warn that the class “battles” will continue in one form or other. The youth are desperate, angry and impatient. The ordinary Kenyan does not feel or see the effect of the purported 6.5% annual growth of the economy or the benefits of the foreign investors.
o The unsatisfactory manner in which corruption cases (Anglo-leasing/Goldenberg scandals) have been handled are seen as unjust and discriminatory against the poor who get heavy sentences for petty theft, yet the greedy rich go scot-free. This impunity, lack of accountability and arrogance of the corrupt rich, has fostered a deep-rooted anger that has exploded and must be addressed meaningfully, openly and fairly.
Life is Sacred. “Stop the Bloodshed”
o As Quakers we value every person. We believe that “there is that of God in every person”. “Our central faith requires that we should proclaim, in deed as well as in word that war,…. is contrary to the Spirit of God, whose name is Love. The same spirit must animate our business and social relations and make us eager to remove oppression and injustice in every form”.
o As such, we renounce these senseless killings and urge the government, to take responsibility and restrain the security forces from using violent means of handling the “demonstrators”. We urge all parties to give a listening ear to the people. Through their violence they are communicating a serious message. Please listen respectfully.
o Politicians should avoid using youths in their schemes to create mayhem in society.
o Supporters should stop being misused and abused by politicians
o Party leaders must restrain their supporters from engaging in unlawful acts but should engage in peace building.
o The older people should be encouraged to counsel and dissuade the youth from violence.
o Faith-based institutions should continue sending clear non-partisan, non-inflammatory messages that resonate the life affirming, faith-filled, truth and justice-guided, peace-building, comfort-giving, reconciliation-oriented, repentance-seeking, confession-based messages of their faith.
In view of the above, we make the following proposals:
1. An independent audit should be done.
a. Tallies from the polling stations for each of the 210 constituencies should be obtained and at least one agent for each candidate from each polling station be brought to Nairobi to verify the count and entries on Form 16A.
b.All Forms 16 should be verified with Forms 16A to establish accuracy of entries.
c. An independent group, possibly made of church leaders, local observers, international observers, representatives of the two parties and international leaders should be charged to verify the tallying and report their findings to the chairman of the reconstituted ECK and to the Kenyan people.
d. Whatever the outcome of the verification, the two parties should abide by the verdict under the guidance of the international arbitrators.
Following the gazzettement of the MPs elect, parliament should convene and elect the Speaker so that business can be conducted to facilitate a mechanism for the urgent re-run of the Presidential elections.
3. Interim arrangements
· Hon. Mwai Kibaki should step down from the seat of the presidency to pave way for the interim arrangements suggested below.
·The ODM and the PNU affiliated parties must enter into meaningful dialogue for the sake of national interest.
·Establishment of an interim government comprising of all the parties proportionate to their Membership in parliament with the Speaker heading it for a period of three months.
The interim government is advised to source expertise from recognized international institutions such as A.U, Commonwealth, European Union and others to assist in supervising the re-run. Due to the failure of ECK, the commissioners should immediately step aside to pave way for the re-constitution of the ECK, along the Principles of IPPG, to organize presidential re-run within the three months.
Commissioners of credibility with integrity should be sourced from LSK, ICJ, eminent persons from professionals, civil society and religious groups.
4. Activities during interim period and thereafter
o Peaceful rallies must be allowed and organized to facilitate the healing process
o Civil society and religious organizations should have forums to enhance reconciliation through dialogue, counseling and conflict resolution
o Losers of Parliamentary elections on both sides and former ministers should desist from giving inflammatory statements motivated by their personal vested interests.
o All God fearing people should acknowledge and repent their sins (such as bribery, false witness, murder, rape, pride, arrogance, dishonesty and others) of commission and omission. “If my people ,who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land”. (2nd Chronicles 7:14)
5. New Constitution
All presidential candidates have affirmed the need for a new constitution. We Kenyans are in dire need of a new God-centred and people based constitution. All constitutional institutions have failed us: the presidency, parliament, ECK, Anti Corruption, Political Parties, Civil Society, Civil Service, Constitutional Commissions and especially the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. The only institution that is still functioning faithfully is the people: they voted peacefully and in earnest, now they are in disarray because the existing constitution does not address the people’s needs.
In conclusion, we as a Peace Church are committed to the process of national healing. Already we have institutions and programs in place such as: Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP); Trauma Healing; Change Agents for Peace International (CAPI); the Quaker Peace Network, all with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to help bring about healing and transform relationships.
We call upon the wider Body of Christ and other faith based institutions to share in the restoration of a healthy, peaceful and just Society.
God bless Kenya.
On Behalf of Friends Church in Kenya (FCK)
Midikira Churchill Kibisu
Friends Church (Quakers)
Nairobi Yearly Meeting
cc. – Chairman ODM
– Chairman ODM Kenya
– Attorney General
– ECK Chairman
– All Other Parties with Presidential Candidates
– Transparency International
– Kenya National Commission for Human Rights Chairman
– Citizen coalition for constitution
– Hon. Musalia Mudavadi