While Kenyans praise the setting up of a body by Parliament to investigate historical injustices with a view to reconciling communities torn apart by ethnic hatred and inequalities, doubts surround the success of such an initiative.Negotiators named by post-war leaders to the international mediation group were of the view that signing of the National Accord without putting in place mechanisms to heal the war wounds would be an exercise in futility.A raft of proposals towards possible reconciliation and peaceful co-existence were made, one being the setting up of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) to investigate historical injustices, including the eruption of post-election violence.Nobody in Kenya can claim the cloak of a saint before the TJRC.
In adult life, everybody in this country is an accomplice in meting out injustices. Since violence or political assassinations always have leaders’ blessings, how will this commission summon such personalities without provoking ethnic animosity?
Only the privileged class can get away with injustices as was evidenced by the 2007 general elections. Kenyans who bear the scars of senseless protests against bungled election results were not the contestants for the top seats.The big question is, what constitutes injustices in the eyes of the commission and the public? Caution, patience and sobriety should be the guides if the country is to forestall a recurrence of violence.Some of the heart-rending testimonies by victims and the stone faces of the perpetrators could be stressful. The commission could be presiding over the disintegration of the nation or perform a miracle to restore the short-lived unity at independence.
The latter is unlikely where negative ethnicity has deepened in all sectors including the Legislature.The leaders across the divide should convene a national healing conference as part of the preparation of the perpetrators and victims to look at the commission, not as a witch-hunter or a trial court, but as a peace-broker.
Going by recent inflammatory statements by leaders after the burial of Kiambaa church fire victims and the conspicuous absence of some coalition leaders, it is safe to conclude that we have forgotten that the country was engulfed in one of the worst violence in living memory.It is thus upon the two principals to rise to the occasion and save the coalition and the country from disintegration.Given the sensitivity of the terms of reference of the commission, the coalition government should move with speed to reinforce the confidence of Kenyans in the healing process.The unease in the coalition government that was crafted out of the ashes of a bloody war should not be a hindrance to the smooth functions of the commission. The TJRC process should not be turned into another public relations exercise to hoodwink the international community, which insisted on reconciliation rather than confrontation.An appearance by leaders across the divide would encourage the perpetrators and victims to fearlessly testify at the commission that seeks to reconcile communities and individuals who regard their neighbours as arch-enemies.
By Joseph Kamotho. EGH.