Kenya is lit­er­al­ly burn­ing. Dur­ing last week’s Mon­day protests, a Church and a Mosque were burnt down. This was eeri­ly rem­i­nis­cent of the trag­ic torch­ing of Kiambaa Church in Uasin Gishu back in 2008. Luck­i­ly, no lives were lost in these places of wor­ship this time. Trag­i­cal­ly, lives have already been lost since 20th March when the demon­stra­tions start­ed. William, a 21-year old Maseno Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dent is amongst those who have died in the protests. Why did he have to die?

In the course of these demon­stra­tions and as a reac­tion to them, hav­oc has been unleashed on our soci­ety. Prop­er­ty has been van­dal­ized. This includes the inno­cent mul­ti­ple Kenyan small-scale entre­pre­neurs and the Keny­at­ta family’s north­lands farm. Evi­dent­ly, it is not busi­ness as usual.

Last Tues­day I was amongst a team of sev­en rep­re­sent­ing con­cerned Kenyans who met to brain­storm on poten­tial peace path­ways. They includ­ed Prof. PLO Lumum­ba; Phillip M.A. Kisia; Charles K. Wambugu; Dr. Charles Maranga and Flo­rence Machio and Chris Kilonzo.

Even amongst us, dis­cus­sions were quite intense albeit fruit­ful. This mir­rors the emo­tive encoun­ters that are tak­ing place across the country.

Empa­thy is the sin­gu­lar prin­ci­ple that will deliv­er the peace path­ways that we seek. Empa­thy requires us to place our­selves in our polit­i­cal adver­saries’ shoes. As such, it is crit­i­cal for Azimio to acknowl­edge that the cur­rent Pres­i­dent was con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly sworn in after the con­clu­sion of an elec­tive and judi­cial process. In the same breath, the rul­ing Kenya Kwan­za coali­tion must also acknowl­edge the con­sti­tu­tion­al right of all Kenyans, includ­ing Azimio, to stage peace­ful demon­stra­tions. On their part, secu­ri­ty agen­cies should facil­i­tate and not antag­o­nize peace­ful protests.

These demon­stra­tions are part­ly fueled by the run­away high cost of liv­ing. The Gov­ern­ment must be seen to be deci­sive­ly and trans­par­ent­ly tack­ling this mat­ter. There are two steps that can great­ly help to dri­ve down high cost of liv­ing. First­ly, I sug­gest that the Gov­ern­ment insti­tutes a rev­o­lu­tion­ary debt pro­gram. If we man­age our debt suc­cess­ful­ly, we will be halfway there since there will be much more mon­ey avail­able to pump into the local econ­o­my. Sec­ond­ly, I sug­gest that the Gov­ern­ment upholds mer­i­toc­ra­cy across the board even as we imple­ment the tenets of the famous Vision 2030.This will ensure inclu­siv­i­ty and cohesion.

At a more down-to-earth lev­el the Exec­u­tive, the leg­is­la­ture and The Coun­cil of Gov­er­nors needs to con­vene an urgent meet­ing to address the pre­vail­ing chal­lenges par­tic­u­lar­ly the cost of living.

All these efforts of reviv­ing the econ­o­my and uni­fy­ing the coun­try are depen­dent on peace. Absence of peace ren­ders every­thing else impo­tent. That’s why the urgent, vital ques­tion of the moment isn’t about who is right or wrong. Rather, it’s about what should be done imme­di­ate­ly to restore peace and even­tu­al uni­ty in our nation.

Let us all remem­ber that you can only enjoy legal or con­sti­tu­tion­al rights in a coun­try that exists and functions.

It is against this back­drop that our team of sev­en rep­re­sent­ing con­cerned Kenyans is emphat­ic in our call for nation­al engage­ment, not just nation­al dia­logue. Engage­ment tran­scends dia­logue and encom­pass­es hold­ing each oth­er account­able. It must be under­stood that any­time the two coali­tions degen­er­ate to per­son­al attacks on each oth­er, respec­tive sup­port­ers take cue. Time is ripe for our lead­ers to start talk­ing to each oth­er, not at each other.

Sec­tion 33 of our con­sti­tu­tion makes it clear that the right to free­dom of expres­sion does not extend to incite­ment to vio­lence or eth­nic incite­ment. The Lead­ers of Kenya Kwan­za and Azimio must there­fore exer­cise zero tol­er­ance to any form of incite­ment. Of course, it is heart­warm­ing for Kenyans to note that there now exist back chan­nels of hard dis­cus­sions that have been opened between Azimio and Kenya Kwan­za teams. May God bless those efforts.

For peace to tru­ly pre­vail, every sin­gle Kenyan must always com­mit to uphold­ing peace. A heart-to-heart engage­ment does it. Think green, act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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