Thursday, June 19, 2008

Testimony from Eldoret - Thurs 6/19/2008

On 6/19/08, Eden Grace wrote:

Dear Friends,
I thought you might like to read this account from John Muhanji about this week's peace work, and the evidence of what an impact our Friends Church Peace Team is having!


We went to the camp and met with the people, and when I talked and prayed for them, they willingly went and started pulling down their tents, ready to leave to their new station, closer to their houses which were destroyed....

I felt encouraged and energised to see that we could offer a new life of hope to people who have been feeling hopeless.

--John Muhanji, Director of FUM's African Ministries Office in Kenya

Dear Friends,

It is always wise to go by God's direction all the time we do our ministry. The months of March, April, May and June have been busy with so many activities that were to be done at the beginning of the year but were interrupted by the clashes. Besides our normal programs we were added more responsibilities of dealing with the Internally displaces people after the post election violence that rocked the country from end of 2007 after the election.

Many people were displaced as a result of being chased from other communities for not supporting a certain candidate in presidential election. During this time many people were looking where to go in search of security and shelter and food. Many people's houses were destroyed and many of their properties also stolen and others destroyed during the violence period. It will take a good longer time to heal from this evil acts from their neighbours.

After have a very successful mission to Uganda where I had a workshop with the finance chairmen and treasurers of the various monthly and Quarterly meetings of the yearly meeting. I received a telephone call from the District Commissioner at mid-night on Sunday asking me to join them get the IDPs from the Eldoret show ground to their homes.

The DC told me that he had been to the camp and the IDPs were hostile to him because he has not been with them at all. The IDPs told the DC the only people they know who have been very helpful in ensuring that they resettle to their homes are the District Officer (DO) and the Friends Church. He was given my number by the DO and the IDPs would like to meet myself from the Friends church and the DO on Monday morning.

I was very tired and I needed a rest after a long week full of activities. I tried to give excuses not to go or sent someone else, but the DC told that, "you have done a lot to this people and I believe you are the only person who could make this day a success." I accepted reluctantly but at the same time I asked God to give me energy and wisdom on how to deal with situation.

I left very early in the morning on Monday 16th to Eldoret show grounds. I met the DO and DC waiting for me. We went to the camp and met with the people and when I talked and prayed for them, they willingly went and started pulling down their tents ready to leave to their new station closer to their houses which were destroyed. Lorries were provided which carried them to the place.

As they were pulling down their tents, we went to see the place where they were relocating, we found that there were no rest rooms and water nearby for the people as they move there. At this time the DC had left us with the DO. We called the DC and asked him to provide funds for the toilets and water, but he never came to us again. Time was moving and nothing was taking place, I felt frustrated and I called Eden and asked her to send me Kshs.40,000 (about $620 USD) to use for the process.

Eden responded very fast, and I started rolling things in action. The toilets were put in place, water was also connected after buying pipes that pulled water which was 200 meters from the location. I also provided food to those people who worked on it. I also enable the connection of electricity from a nearby hospital which provided light for security. I got a wire that was also 200 metres and its accessories. It was as if I had calculated the exact amount that was required for the work available. I left the camp at 8.45pm when the camp was having water, rest rooms and lights in a very short time.

The IDPs and the DO felt encouraged and supported and the people felt that indeed the Friends church is a true peace church that cares for the people. They commended that we have been very helpful in the process and they have seen that we are the only church that has not taken the process for granted but as a duty. They saw integrity in us and wished this church could stay with them all the time. I even used also the same money to buy fuel for a government vehicle the DO was using when it ran out of fuel and were using it to carry longs and other things. They could not get the money from the DC to do anything. I felt encouraged and energised to see that we could offer a new life of hope to people who have been feeling hopeless.

I slept in Eldoret unexpected, because I came knowing that I will be going back to kisumu. The following day, we went to the show ground to see those IDPs from the same place who had remained. As I arrived in the camp and went round the makeshifts of tents, All those who had remained came out and started pulling down their tents in readiness to join their counterparts who left the previous day. Since everything was already in place I blessed them and asked them to move in peace to the new place.

At this time i was needed for another meeting in Kisumu at 2.00pm. I left Eldoret at 11.45am and I was in Kisumu for the other meeting that was to plan for the education secretaries meeting to be held on 18th June at 2.30pm. We met and made the agenda and what to discuss.

The program which the Friends Church Peace team has been doing has caused a big impact to both the communities of the Kalenjin and Kikuyus. These communities had no clue before that the Friends church had such values in peace and reconciliation. The DO continued to say that if it was not the Friends Church which I have hidden in their wings, I would not have penetrated or made any progress in resettlement of the IDPs.

Friends Your prayers and support has been seen and heard and we encourage that we continue with the same spirit of support. There is a lot of responsibilities remaining to ensure that we continue with bonding relationship activities between the communities. The resettlement continues this week and next week.

I greatly appreciate the call I received from Sylvia at 8.30pm when I was taking the electrician to his house after fixing the lights for the camp. I was driving and had to pull a side to talk to Sylvia with surprise. She called the right time I needed such an encouragement and it was as if she had been monitoring me and had to call when we were retiring to encourage me. Sylvia! thank you for that call it gave me strength and I felt I was not a lone. God Used you to call me at that particular time when I was very exhausted but I found myself energised.

God bless you friends.

-- John Muhanji
Director, Africa Ministries Office
P. O. Box 478, Kisumu.

Listening to Christ: A simple faith that transforms lives.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Today's stories - Wed 6/18/2008

Forgotten Kenyan conflict exposed

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has exposed torture and appalling levels of sexual violence in a conflict in western Kenya.

It says people there are caught up in fighting which it claims is being ignored by the international community.

A major military operation to neutralise a militia group called the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) has left thousands of civilians trapped.

The militia took up arms over a land allocation scheme it considers unfair.

MSF says there are victims of "indiscriminate violence" on both sides.

But Western Provincial Commissioner Abdul Mwasera told the BBC's Focus on Africa that accusations that the security forces had used excessive force were unfounded.

I saw men beaten on their genitals, and their testicles pulled out
Male witness

The SLDF says it is fighting for ancestral land in the fertile Mount Elgon region belonging to the Sabaot community, but has been accused of killing members of rival ethnic groups.

Correspondents say much of the chaos witnessed in Kenya after the country's presidential election in December was sparked by long-running disputes over land.

The MSF report paints a picture of a civilian population caught between a heavy-handed military - accused of extra judicial killings - and a vicious militia, the SLDF, the BBC's Karen Allen reports from Nairobi.

One woman cited in the report described how the militia took five people a day to the mountains and killed them.
"If they targeted a home, they took every member of that family, irrespective of age and sex," she said.

The militia extorted fines from people who were drunk, chopping their ears off if they had no money and killing them if they resisted, she added.

"One of my brothers-in-law tried to resist one day and his head was chopped off and his body was thrown into a pit latrine," she was quoted as saying.

The report also sets out testimonies of men, suspected to have been militia members, being subjected to torture and appalling levels of sexual violence at the hands of the police and the military.

"I saw men beaten on their genitals, and their testicles pulled out," said one man who had been taken to a screening centre Kapkota.

"The military told us to confess we had guns, otherwise the torture would continue," he said.

MSF has also condemned the cramped conditions in which suspects are held during pre-trial detention, and warned that the violent response of the military is simply making things worse for an already traumatised civilian population.

Mr Mwasera said his own interviews had found that people in Mount Elgon supported what the military was doing.

He also said that it was the government's responsibility to care for those civilians displaced by the violence and that they had been offered food and ongoing assistance.

Story from BBC
Published: 2008/06/17 16:05:21 GMT© BBC MMVIII

MPs seek Sh650m for new expenses

Publication Date: 6/18/2008

MPs are asking for Sh656.7 million more than they received last year to cater for live coverage of parliamentary proceedings and a new redesigned debating chamber, among others.

It is part of a Sh7.2 billion Budget for Parliament, in which MPs are also asking for money for a new four-wheel-drive vehicle and chase car for the Speaker, foreign and local travel allowances, a
pension scheme for former MPs and an official house for the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Patrick Gichohi.

Since 2001, MPs have presented their own Budget, separate from the national one read by the
Finance Minister.

Speaker’s car
The House has traditionally and speedily approved the budget without amendment.

According to estimates, Sh35 million has been set aside to buy new cars, including a new Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) for the Speaker, Mr Kenneth Marende.

The money will also be used to buy a chase car for the Speaker, a new addition to Parliament’s budget.

Mr Marende will be the latest among top Government officers to enjoy the services of a chase car, after President Kibaki, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Others who have such privileges include Deputy PMs Musalia Mudavadi and Uhuru Kenyatta, Police Commissioner Hussein Ali, Chief of General Staff Gen Jeremiah Kianga and Chief Justice Evan Gicheru.

Mr Marende’s SUV will be in addition to his official Mercedes limousine.

Parliament’s debating chamber is scheduled for redesign and refurbishment at Sh360 million. The job had been budgeted to cost Sh800 million, but former Speaker Francis ole Kaparo overruled it, arguing that the figure was exaggerated.

The chamber is supposed to be redesigned to a horse-shoe shape, similar to the US
congress debating chambers.

The House has also budgeted for Sh185 million to buy broadcast equipment to allow live coverage of proceedings.
Radio broadcasts will be introduced first, followed by TV transmissions.

MPs’ stand
Mr Kimunya said live broadcasts would have been introduced by the time MPs debate the proposed law that will make them pay taxes on their allowances “for people to know the stand taken by their MPs”.

The Clerk will get a new official residence to be bought at Sh50 million. A similar house was bought for the Speaker several years ago.

MPs have also budgeted for Sh256 million for their foreign travels between now and end of June next year. They have also set aside Sh95 million as membership
fees, dues and subscription for international organisations.

The Speaker will also benefit from an additional Sh8 million to buy furniture for his official residence and some equipment for the catering department.

Parliament has also budgeted Sh2.5 million to add to the allocation given by the National Aids Control Council for HIV/Aids awareness and purchase of ARVs for “the critically ill in parliament”.

The House has also set aside Sh200 million to pay duty for MPs’ duty free cars. Previously no tax was paid for the cars but the system was changed to provide for an allocation from the Treasury to pay the
Kenya Revenue Authority.

Kenya: Catholic Church Rejects Amnesty for Poll Chaos Suspects, Washington - 16 hours ago
The chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference Cardinal John Njue rejected the calls for amnesty on Saturday and demanded that the rule of law be respected.
Central Kenya crafts plan for post-Kibaki era Daily Nation
Kenyan cardinal opposes amnesty for post-election violence Catholic World News
Kenya: No amnesty, says cardinal -
all 173 news articles »

Voice of America
Odinga to Americans: Kenya will succeed
Daily Nation, Kenya - 7 hours ago
By KEVIN J. KELLEY in Washington, DC Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Tuesday gave Americans a sombre accounting of the post-election violence that, ...
Kenyan Prime Minister Speaks Out on Zimbabwe Voice of America
Kenyan PM promotes political marriage of necessity AFP
Kenya's Odinga Calls for End to Mugabe's Rule in Zimbabwe Bloomberg
International Herald Tribune -
all 40 news articles »

UN refugee chief on three-day mission to Kenya
Xinhua, China - 2 hours ago
NAIROBI, June 18 (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency chief Antonio Guterres arrived in Kenya on Wednesday for a three-day mission aimed at outlining some of ...
UNHCR says global refugee figure continues to climb Afrique en ligne
all 263 news articles »

Daily Nation
Kenya's Safaricom IPO leaves some investors bitter
Reuters - 1 hour ago
Thousands of those small investors took bank loans, hoping to cash in on the issue, which attracted 236 billion Kenya shillings ($3.68 billion) worth of ...
Kenya: More Must Be Done to Protect Investors
Delayed Safaricom refunds worry the Central Bank Daily Nation
Kenya,Tanzania currencies ease vs dlr,Uganda firms Reuters - Daily Nation
all 14 news articles »

Kenya: Kenya Airways Bounces Back, Washington - 1 hour ago
Kenya Airways (KA), whose passenger trade was near 100% capacity in December last year then plunged to less than half in 14 days after violent civil unrest, ...

Roundup: Kenya prepared to avert food shortage
Xinhua, China - 22 hours ago
NAIROBI, June 17 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government said Tuesday it has put in place elaborate measures aimed at averting the looming food shortage in the ...
Kenya: Grain Imports Cut Despite Food Shortage
Kenya urges Africa to boost food security AFP
Starvation stalks the poor in Kenya East African
Xinhua - Xinhua
all 81 news articles »

Kenya's negotiators unveil roadmap for law review
Xinhua, China - 5 hours ago
NAIROBI, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's negotiators trying to find long-term solutions to avoid a repeat of awful post election violence that claimed the lives ...
Law review Bills ready Daily Nation
Review Bill to be ready in 14 days Standard
Constitution: Key Bills ready Daily Nation
all 6 news articles »

WB study blames Kenya for high food prices in Uganda
Xinhua, China - 5 hours ago
NAIROBI, June 18 (Xinhua) -- A newly published study by the World Bank said Kenya is partly responsible for high food prices in landlocked countries like ...

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Oliver Kisaka featured online - Mon 6/16/2008

Religion's Role in Kenya

June 13, 2008
Episode no. 1141

RELIGION AND ETHICS NEWS WEEKLY this week highlights the growing ties between church communities in western Kenya and Indiana. Those ties endured, indeed strengthened, following the deadly post-election violence in Kenya late last year. The ethnic clashes killed more than a thousand and displaced 600,000, and the upheaval continues to scare away tourists who are critical to the economy of what had been one of Africa's most stable nations. Kenya received its independence from Britain in 1963, inheriting a similar parliamentary system and a strong legacy of Christianity. Neither proved an adequate bulwark against the inter-tribal tensions that have festered in the decades since self-rule began.

When Kenya's disputed election erupted in bloodshed last December, church leaders failed to lead, admits Oliver Kisaka, a Quaker minister and vice president of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, in an interview in Nairobi with Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro.

According to the American Friends Service Committee, there are more Quakers in Kenya -- 135,000 -- than any other country in the world.

Read excerpts from Kisaka's comments:
OLIVER KISAKA (National Council of Churches of Kenya NCCK): Forty-five years for Kenya is a short period of time for 45 tribes to have come together and meshed into one and perfected the art of democracy and common sharing of space. I think in that sense people should not be overly judgmental against any African country. They are trying to shift from systems they were used to, to a totally new approach when you are dealing with more than one culture.

Democracy is not an African system. It's a good system but it is not inherently African.

Most Kenyans are religious. The country would be about 95 percent to 97 percent religious, 70 to 80 percent of that being from one of the Christian traditions. Another sizable percentage, about 15 to 20, being from the Islamic community, and maybe 2 to 3 percent being Hindu and others. So Kenya is generally a religious community.

But how this religion works out in economics, how it works out in politics, how it works out in ethnicity, how it works out in aesthetics, how it works out in defining ethical values, how it works as a true worship, as a religion itself -- those are the critical questions which we are now being called upon to engage.

We have assumed we are a peaceful country. We have assumed that our religion is deep enough. The truth is that it is not deep enough.

Oliver Kisaka: When push came to shove, there were ministers who sided with their ethnic communities. In other words, they were not prophetic to their ethnic communities.

The right thing would have been to tell the community "You can not do this. You can't burn other peoples' property, even if you are aggrieved." But they were silent.

When we entered the crisis we decided, analyzed it in three parts. We said it was a spiritual crisis, a political crisis, and a humanitarian crisis, because of the internally displaced people, and we then set up committees to respond to these: a humanitarian committee, a spiritual committee, and a political mediation committee.

Each of these have been working since that time. We told the people we regret that we were divided and that divisions were along ethnic lines. So we committed ourselves to starting fresh and to do things differently for the sake of the country.

Nobody in Kenya was not divided, doesn't matter who -- the teachers, the law society, the civil society organizations. Everybody was divided.

It was a very difficult situation for the country, and we felt if someone was going to bring healing into the country someone was needed to take responsibility for their part. So we decided to go ahead and do so. We still hope the rest can actually come to that point, because anything else is really denial. We are in denial. We have treated one another as if we were not Kenyans, and there is no way we can heal one another if we are still pointing fingers across the table. We need everybody to say "I had a part to play in what this became."

There has been a lot of call for healing, for renewal, and in a sense we are saying renewal for all of us. Without sounding careless, the Christian tradition is a tradition of renewal, is a tradition of redemption, is a tradition of forgiveness. The most difficult things for Christians to attempt to do is not to own up to what you are wrong about. If you are able to own up sincerely and turn around, there is forgiveness, and there is a new opportunity. So most of the ministers have dealt with this and are preaching healing, reconciliation. They are using our experience as a lesson. They are saying we didn't know it would get this bad. We cannot point fingers anymore. We must work on a new way of how we will live together.

So the message is a message of reconciliation, is a message of "Let's begin again," a message of "We can't pretend we were holier than others. Let's own up, lets face it, lets address it."

One of the sad things of the missionary experience, it outlawed African-ness. If African culture is seen to be anti-Christian and yet I cannot be a white, then what does it leave for me? It leaves me a big vacuum. I have forsaken my African values, I cannot live the Western values I lived, so where does that leave me?

I think that the minister today, I as a minister must wrestle with that and help Kenyans develop new values that can allow them to be African and be Christian without feeling a sense of contradiction.

Our preaching ministry cannot be business as usual for us to be able to address ethnicity. Somebody must stand up and tell the people that although where we are today it seems that we can't live together as tribes, that is something we can work out.

I think we have the God-given capacity to address any human problems anywhere. Human beings are known for that. The first and second world wars were very bad wars, but Europe still lives together. Europe works together. They have just raised their stakes a little higher, determined how to live together. I think what it's calling for is for Kenyans to develop a way of living together, and religion has a great path, because it can give the right theology under God for this kind of living together.

Religion in Kenya is not zero. It held at some point. It was pushed from the ideal, but it did not go beyond a certain point, meaning there is a deposit of it. We can easily be so negative about this situation that we paint Kenya as a country of hopeless people who don't know where they are going.

I think Kenyans are very hopeful people. I think that the problem we faced is that people were trying to say something, and nobody was hearing them.

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