Kenya - can peace-loving voices be heard?
- Various thoughts came together this evening while I was talking with Andrius, which led to an idea, which I share in case it is worth taking forward in any way.
First - I was struck by Sam's mention of musicians calling for an end to violence.(see quote below from a recent email from Sam to Mendenyo)
Next - I remembered some drummers I met through Ken and Sam. It was near the end of a wonderful day that I spent in Nairobi with Ken and Sam as my kind and generous hosts (BTW Maria - we ate at the same place that you visited, and then finished our meal with fresh fruit salad from one of the street stalls. ). At the end of that day while Ken was practicing with some of the acrobats, Sam and I were discovering other activities on the compound, and met a group of musicians - singing drummers (one of whom actually made the drums). They played - just for us - music that I felt could have filled a big auditorium.
Then - as I read Sam's email I thought of these musicians and the excitement and power of their music, and I imagined them playing songs to get people excited about peaceful change instead of violence.
Later Andrius and I were talking about practical support for people, and priorities - money, food, refugees, phone calls, encouragement, communication, giving the non-violent a voice, demonstrating collaboration across tribal barriers before it is too late.
We touched on the power of music and songs and ways that music might help in this situation - attracting attention to what goes on, sharing information, "telling stores", cheering people in refugee camps, all kinds of things.
I told Andrius about the choir of "A Ray of Hope" in Northern Ireland . It is a children's choir, set up by a primary teacher, DonMcBurney during the sectarian violence of The Troubles - it brought together children from Roman Catholic schools and children from Protestant schools to make beautiful music together in public.
As Andrius and I talked we created a picture of non-violent peace-loving people having a shared voice by knowing a song - a song that would not belong to a particular tribe - a song of encouragement for the future. It would be a song that people of all tribes could sing peacefully to themselves or with others, of any tribe, at any time, but especially when trouble makers would have them cower in silence or join in violence.
I am reminded too of a plane journey I took to North Central Nigeria, where there is often violence between Muslims and Christians. I sat next to a pastor, who was traveling with an imam. They were working together on a reconciliation mission. The pastor had only one hand - the other hand had been chopped off with a machete during religious conflict. The pastor had decided that he could not let that incident be a trigger for escalating violence - but he must use it for peace.
I don't know the Kenyan situation well enough to know if a song for peaceful resolution is a silly and impossible idea - or perhaps a good idea - or maybe even an obvious idea and perhaps already some people somewhere are starting to sing such songs - songs that could be taken up by other peace-loving voices as people try to know what to do in the current turmoil. If it is not a silly idea then where do we find such songs - and how do we nurture them.
Sam and Ken - if you see this - when we were talking Andrius said probably Sam would be asleep but Ken would still be awake so I tried a couple of time to call Ken after talking to Andrius - but I could not get through.
Sam's email:Meanwhile, local musicians have also called for an end to the violence.Similar sentiments were aired by Mrs Rukia Subow of Maendeleo ya Wanawake and Mutuku Nguli of Peace and Development Network Trust (Peace-net).Pamoja Youth Foundation and the Vijana Tugutuke initiativehas partnered with various media houses, Kenya Red Cross and Nakumatt Supermarkets to collect and distribute donations for those displaced by the violence.Although, we can not get the contacts for these people because; there is no airtime available but Ken Owino can purchase airtime in Nairobi if there is fund---through M-pesa, a Safaricom service to enable others get airtime and this will give us wide sphere of information sharing.Police are fighting running battles with chanting rioters pushing to access Nairobi's Uhuru Park for a rally called by the Orange Democratic Movement, more info here http://politics.nationmedia.com/inner.asp?pcat=NEWS&cat=TOP&sid=1196