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Need for non-violence

Need for non-violence
A Message from the Catholic Bishops Following Recent Events in Coast Province
27 August 1997

An outbreak of violence and destruction at the Coast has claimed more than 40 lives since the killings began on August 13.
This violence has created the exodus of thousands of Likoni residents.
On August 27, 1997, Rt. Rev. John Njue, Bishop of the Diocese of Embu and Chairman of the Episcopal Conference read the present Statement at a Press Conference at the Catholic Secretariat.
To Our Brothers and Sisters in Kenya.
We, the Catholic Bishops, are together with you in these very critical days when we all sense that something very wrong is happening in Kenya.
Along with other religious leaders, we are using all our authority, all our influence, to fulfil the words of our National Anthem that “we dwell in unity, peace and liberty”.
The Founder of our nation reminded us that we, as religious leaders, are the conscience of the Nation, that we must speak out and that if we keep silent we will be condemned. However, we speak not only to the government, to our political and administrative leaders, but to all men and women of good will. We, all of us, cannot be mere spectators, we must do something about shameful dramas which are taking place these days in our beloved country.
We do need to pray and fulfil our responsibility so that the “God of all creation may bless this land and Nation”. It is not only for religious leaders to hear the cries of the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the victims of the violence and injustice. All Kenyans must speak out the truth to those in power, without violence but with courage.
We underline the need for non-violence.
The tragedy in the Coast Province, especially Likoni, Mombasa, Malindi, Mtwapa, Kongowea, Kisumu Ndogo etc. has brought out the terrible spirit of violence and cruelty which plagues our country. The massacres have brought wide-spread condemnation from all people of good will. It has brought shame on us. It is also bringing untold economic misery for thousands of ordinary “Wananchi” (citizens) who were benefiting from the Tourist Industry. At this juncture, we wish to express our solidarity and sympathy for our brother Archbishop of Mombasa and to the people of Coast.
Something must be done without any delay. The government has shown itself powerless, has not been able to explain, let alone prevent, such a well-planned and executed operation. Victims wonder what happened to Special Branch, to the security forces so efficient in dealing with the opposition. Either the government is in control or it should admit it is not.
The government has not shown us yet that the criminals are going to be severely punished. There has been a history of terrible ethnic cleansing, based very much on “Majimboism” (federation) in its evil form, which is still going on.
The promise of the present government to consider some reforms has given some hope but the ensuing implementation dims ones hopes.
If reforms are necessary this government should not call for elections or even continue immediate preparations for elections until the Reform Committee has agreed on the needful reforms. The aim of the political reform before the forthcoming elections is to have a government elected freely and fairly by all citizens who are entitled to vote.
All lawmakers and those with government insight have realised that without a certain minimum constitutional changes before the elections, the elections will be a shame. The minimum constitutional reforms are:
The 25%, 5 Province Rule in Presidential Elections
2. Coalition Government
3. The Electoral Commission
4. Office of the Republic of Kenya
5. Independent Candidates
6. Nominated Members of Parliament
Whenever it has suited the policy makers, the constitution has been changed almost overnight, there have been many such changes without involving all the complicated legalities devised at this time. The good of the people, the achievement of free and fair elections are more important than the individual articles of the constitution. The minimum changes demanded for the good of this country can be changed as smoothly as previous changes have been effected. A completely revised constitution is certainly required and can come later after careful and wide consultation of those who can make a useful contribution.
For the government to accept its responsibility seriously it should act with more urgency, more transparency. It should be more positive in involving all people of good will, be ready to listen to all ideas even if not very palatable.
Concerned citizens are asking why the KANU delegation does not want to listen to non-elected persons or bodies when there are a number of non-elected persons who are their spokesmen.
Why ask many people who have suffered from violence, does the government not crack down on Ministers who publicly incite against Kenyans not of their ethnic group. Why are the Police allowed to be brutal, to shoot and kill unarmed citizens? Why do some politicians have their private armies of hooligans e.g. Jeshi la Mzee, Kanu Youthwingers etc. If all these are allowed to happen, then calls for peace are hollow and ridiculous. The Government of Kenya should not allow anyone to provoke violence and fear, no matter what political party they belong to.
On the “Coast issue”, the government must surely be aware of the Association of Pwani People. Any anti-Kenyan movement must be suppressed. The Pokot clash situation is also relevant. Quite apart from a respectable government should show more concern for the landless, the unemployed, for the education and health services than is evident. Surely, the lack of justice to thousands of people forced off their legally acquired land in the 1992 clashes shows un-African lack of responsibility for the voiceless. Humble and struggling families, torched off their property for no other reason but their ethnic origin or political affiliation.
There is no doubt that this is a historic period and love for the good of the country is called for, even at the sacrifice of individual interests. Such a spirit of patriotism, social vision and such courage comes from God and for that reason we invite all to fervently offer up to God the well known prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred... let me sow love
Where there is discord.. Unity
Where there is doubt.. faith
Where there is error.. truth
Where there is despair.. hope
Where there is sadness.. joy
Where there is darkness.. light
O Divine master, grant that
I may not so much seek
To be consoled .. as to console
To be understood .. as to understand
To be loved .. as to love
For it is in giving... that we receive
it is in pardoning ... that we are pardoned
it is in dying ... that we are born to eternal life.