Ann Njeri (Change Agent) Takes a Pledge of Peace

ann-njeri.jpgA few years ago my family, was kicked out of our home after some tribal clashes. My family is from the Kikuyu tribe and we have often been at war with another tribe the Kalenjin.

The clashes always cause a lot of innocent deaths and suffering. The hate between the tribes keeps on spreading. In January last year, more than a thousand people were brutally killed and hundreds of thousands internally displaced.

Even before my family was kicked out of our home, I already hated all Kalenjins. I had been fed with a biased frame and prejudices against them. When my family was thrown out of our home, my hatred grew. I wanted everyone to hate them. I kept passing on the seedlings of hate to all willing listeners.
Two years ago, I attended a peace circles meeting in India. We were reflecting on what builds or destroys peace in society. For the first time it dawned on me that even though I always prayed and hoped that Kenya can be a peaceful country, I was still a perpetrator of hate. I was among those destroying my country’s peace by the hate in my heart, and the bitter and resentful words from my mouth.

That realization was a new beginning in my life.

The tribal problem is massive and deep rooted, but I have discovered my part in being part of the solution.

I decided to apologize to the Kalenjin friends for my hatred towards them. It was very difficult for me, but every time I did it, my hatred melted away and love found some space.

By doing this, I got the courage to forgive those who were involved in the clashes. I took some extra steps to visit the Kalenjin friends homes, and later invited some to my home – something that had never happened before.

I realized how generalization hinders understanding. I learnt that we fight because we don’t understand each other; because we don’t want to put down our preconceived assumptions.

I feel that so much contamination has been done by my parents’ generation to the younger generation. I am convinced that the hate, resentments, prejudices will not bring any peace.

I am convinced that young people have a role to play in rebuilding our country; they have to break the chain of hate, and build a generation of mutual respect and interest based on moral and spiritual integrity.

Forgiveness, embracing our diversity, understanding the other and respecting our differences is my message, and part of my life. A campaign to fight the negative ethnicity is underway.

I have made a commitment and a decision to remain in the frontline to fight the tribal monster. I strongly feel that if the right steps are not taken, there could be more deaths, suffering and pain coming. In my own small ways, together with others who have the same vision, I want to advocate and create a better society.

I respect Jonathan Christoph’s words, ‘Returning hate for hate multiplies hate; Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that. Violence multiplies violence…love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend’

For the sake of my country’s future, I am ready to bridge the tribal gap all my life, if that is what it takes to build a peaceful Kenya. I believe that this is one big direction that God has given me. Who am I to say no?

Ann Njeri
Jan 2009
Action for Life

Related Links:
Take the Initiative, You Can Make a Difference
Initiatives of Change
Action for Life