Samuel has worked so hard for peace, and what is amazing about him is that he was a victim of the violence. In the early 1990’s his father, a Pokot, was killed by the Turkanas during a raid of sorts. In those days the Turkanas had the upper hand and the Pokots were on the run. Cattle rustling, thievery, violence, perpetuated over decades. Samuel identifies with both sides of the conflict since his father was Pokot and his mother Turkana. He isn’t bitter, but works for reconciliation on both sides. He finishes his nursing degree next month and he will graduate in the spring. He dreams of finishing a master’s degree in nursing and becoming the first Pokot lecturer in one of the nursing schools. He hopes in this way to inspire other Pokots to obtain an education and transform their lives in the process.
Proposal for reconciliation
Overnight I looked over the documents that Samuel gave me. In one document, he outlined the programs conducted in 2015 as part of the peace initiative. It is an impressive list of building, nurturing, nourishing, healing, counseling, meeting, etc. He wants to do more. He has put together a proposal for 6 million Kenya shillings or so to work on reconciliation between the tribes, educate the young, counsel the traumatized, bring violence as a way of life to an end. It’s a good proposal. I have no idea where the money would come from. We will talk to ADRA on the way through Nairobi and see if there is interest in partnering with us on developing peace.
Conversations with Everlyne:
Everlyne is the chairperson for the peace initiative. She is a school teacher from Kapedo. She is one of the women that I remember from 2012 who gave an impassioned speech about the disaster occurring in their community as a result of lack of peace. She personally lost several family members as a result of violence against them. Samuel set up a phone conversation with her today. Here is her perspective.
She mentioned again the challenges with insecurity and water. She stated that overall the communities are very happy with the support, and that things are going well with the project. She mentioned the cholera outbreak that occurred this year as a result of contaminated water supply. Two children died. Samuel responded and helped with medicine and IV fluids, clinical evaluations, transfer of the sickest patients to Nakuru. Specific areas that are going well include the orphan support, student support, housing and bedding and food for the orphans, building of the orphan shelter, etc.
Areas that are a priority for the committee include:
- Increase the food support for widows and elderly
- Increase school support for promising and needy children. Right now they are able to help five Turkana children and five Pokot children to receive education. This is important to develop leaders for the future who will see the world differently and not be swayed to live life through the barrel of a gun.
- Building a kitchen for the orphans.
- Putting up a water tank for the rainy season to catch water for orphan support
- A small stipend for the matron who cares for the orphans
- Supporting meetings in Nakuru and Kapedo in include professionals from these two tribes who can talk about and meet regarding peace.
- Making the project sustainable, knowing that we had promised them five years of support. This time frame is rapidly coming to a close.
Some of the biggest challenges that remain include the life of the cattle rustlers. In Samuel’s proposal for reconciliation, he mentions engaging the prophets and seers. He explained further the significance of this means. The prophets are almost untouchable from the outside, very powerful figures in Pokot culture. They typically call in the young men, slaughter a goat and “read” the intestines. They will tell the young warriors that they will successfully capture 100 goats and cattle without harm to themselves. This drives the culture of young warriors stealing cattle, and there is economic gain for the prophet as well, since he gets a share of the cattle. There are economic and spiritual reasons why cattle rustling with its violence and poverty perpetuates itself. It is literally the light fighting against the darkness.
What amazes me is that Samuel with two of his partners in this peace initiative went house to house among the Pokots persuading people to give back to the government the guns they had taken when they killed the 22 policemen and security men. Samuel and his partners in peace are fearless. And they pulled it off. They were often met with a Clintonesque response like “I don’t have the guns, but I think I saw where they were hidden.” Then the person would lead Samuel to where a gun was buried a few feet from their house. After completing this daunting task, they met the Vice President of Kenya and returned the guns to him. So our work in Kapedo and our partners in this peace initiative are known all the way to the top government officials in Kenya.
You have not really lived until you have shopped at the hardware store in Nakuru. You can’t actually get to the hardware in this store. You have to talk to a person behind the counter and describe what you want, they plug it into the computer, give you a receipt, you pay the different cashier guy, then he gives the receipt to a different dude who finds all the stuff, then you go somewhere else while that is happening and come back and you find your stuff piled in the back and wonder if this is really what you ordered. “Everyone comes here,” explains Samuel. From Baringo, Marigat, all over the area. That is why it is so busy.” Dozens of people are wandering through the waiting area and dozens more behind the counters. When you go outside the lady with mangoes wants to sell you some and the parking guy wants to be paid.
Good news, we hooked everything together, solar panels made in Kenya, batteries, wiring, hoses, water pumps and they work great. Now it is up to Samuel with some help in Kapedo to put it all together since we can’t accompany him.