The Saba Saba Peace Experience

Youth in Kibera discussing the importance of keeping peace.
In one of the most notable community outreaches done by the community members themselves, Umande Trust witnessed one of the rare moments last week when community members reached out and demanded a peace consultation meeting as a mitigation measure to peace threats that were already witnessed due to heightened political temperatures preceding the opposition
rally. The community members from Kibera, Mukuru, Korogocho and Mathare had concerns that the peace gains made during the period preceding the 2013 elections were under a serious threat following the demands of the opposition to force an adamant government to national dialogue on issues affecting the nation.

By the time the community members were coming together under one network, the social media was awash with what can simply turn out to be misleading and very dangerous posts. The Kenyan youth, who are majorly the greatest users of the social media, had gone viral with accusations and counter accusations, mostly personal opinions which are easily always hidden behind ethnic overtones. The mainstream media was also airing news items on the rally, which was to coincide with the historic saba saba day; the day when Kenya clamor for multipartysm reached its peak in 1990, which depicted the rally as violent and uncalled for.
The community opinion leaders had already been divided right down the middle. Anxiety had started building up and some of the communities in these peoples settlement had started fearing for their lives, relocating to areas where they felt that they are safe for they can get protection from their ethnic members. Concerted efforts from the religious leaders and the gaping leadership role from the either side of the political divide made the community members realize that they only have themselves to offer leadership and restore the calm that everybody so wanted in the informal settlements.
One of the community leaders addressing the youth
The first consultative meeting took place at the Umande offices. It brought together youth leaders from community based organizations working in Kibera, Mukuru, Mathare and Korogocho registered their fears and advocated for a consultative approach towards dealing with the peace threats were emerging. It was an open secret that the society had been divided and only meaningful dialogue could avert a crisis. The team worked so quickly and reached out to the other community stakeholders, organized two peace events and reached out to the leadership of the country through a press conference covered by the mainstream media houses. The consultative processes proved so positive and calm was restored. People understood the meaning of saba saba and desisted from violence. And leaders lived for once to their billing, making sure no violence took place.

Story written by:
Ramogi Osewe


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