Letter to William Ruto: Now get justice for PEV victims

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By Mukurima X Muriuki

Dear William Ruto.

Theodore Parker, a prominent American Transcendentalist is famous for calling for the abolition of slavery around 1810, at a time when doing this was almost sacrilegious. He went on to publish a collection of “Ten Sermons of Religion.” The third sermon titled “Of Justice and the Conscience” included figurative language about the arc of the moral universe:

‘Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, and my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.’

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For 6 years, you have waited for the moment when you would be vindicated. You have waited for your sense of justice and today, you received it. Congratulations. I wish you and your family nothing but the best Mr. Vice President.

As you meditate and take-in this victory, perhaps with your team of lawyers and other warriors who won the battle for you, and whose loyalty all along was unquestionable, I hope your new commitment will be to help PEV victimss get the same feeling of justice as you have experienced today. My prayer is that you will dedicate your time, resources and political clout to fight for their justice.

I have read the statement by the president, where in addition to calling for a prayer rally at Afraha stadium this weekend, has pointed noted the following:

“Kenya has come a long way since the dark days of 2008. We have made peace…”

I respect the president, but I disagree with the notion that Kenya and Kenyans have made peace. If this is the case, then it is cosmetic peace borne out of political correctness. We would be pretending. We cannot lift the bible and swear before the Almighty that we have done enough for the victims of Post-election violence. The assumption we are making as society, is to think that people only fought because of power, and that since you and President Kenyatta are in government, that everything else took care of itself. That’s deceit.

David Barash accurately notes that peace is never fully achieved, it can only be approached. Mathematicians will call something ‘asymptotic’ if it can be infinitely approached, but never quite reached. To this end, peace is an asymptote. The hard reality though is that peace can be barely glimpsed, never mind grasped; what is frustrating, therefore, is not that peace is so close, but that it remains so far away.

Granted the above argument, we cannot, truthfully, say that we have attained peace. I would admit and say we have tried. Trying, on matters to do with resolving long-standing conflicts, is not good enough. we have to do it. We have to open half-healed wounds if we expect the wound to heal. In fact, a doctor will always open a half-healed wound if he believes a dangerous infection hovers inside.

It is easy for those who never suffered PEV to say ‘let us move on. We are one. But when you read of how vicious mobs lynched mothers and father at will, when you read stories of how girls and women were raped-some infected with venereal diseases and because of the shame ended up committing suicide if at all the attackers did not finish them off; when you hear of a story of a father who tried to concoct an answer to his son who wanted to know why a friend the family had known for a long time had turned against them, then you realize that the country need to come together at the table of justice and reconciliation and vigorously and without shame, face the truth.

Sir, we have to make it right this time. We shall not do it for political correctness and the challenge of elections that are around the corner. Let us do what is right for the country that will be 20 years or 50 years from now. It would be of no importance for Kenya to thrive now under the political coalition, yet 50 years down the line, all the investments made will be something of a distant memory as the effects of 2008 come haunting future generations, and they end up dismembering their fellow citizens as well as damaging the infrastructure.

To fully achieve what we all want in society-co-existence, I am proposing the following, which I hope your team will take up:

  1. Rehabilitation: We need to heal the trauma resulting from PEV. This will be key in building relationships at community level.
  2. Rebuilding: We need to repair everything that was destroyed during PEV. We also need to include a Museum that will remind the locals (hot spots) the shame of 2008
  3. Reculturation: We need to tweak the curriculum in some of the 2008 hot spots to include lessons on conflicts and conflict management. This would aim to shift the mind set from that of violence to that of positive peace
  4. Restructuration: this would be the key. It would mean a democratization of mind; to let the community know that it is alright, in a democratic process, to vote for a different candidate irrespective of the tribe or political affiliation. It will help eliminate social exclusion and achieve a strengthening of the local community.