The National Council of Churches of Kenya heartily commends the Kiprandich group of Elders who spearheaded the recovery and return of three herds of cattle stolen from John Owino last Wednesday.
The recovery of the cattle on Friday evening was the first action after a series of intra and inter community forums organized by NCCK to promote peace and cohesion along the border between Kisumu and Kericho counties. Inter ethnic clashes along the border, especially in Nyakach and Sigowet Soin areas, has in the last three weeks left 13 people dead.
Seeking to restore peaceful coexistence along the border, the NCCK on Tuesday organized two meetings, one at Onyuongo and the other at Sigowet Soin. At the Onyongo forum, religious leaders, Nyumba Kumi leaders, village elders, cross-border peace committee members, community members, Anti Stock Theft Unit personnel, and National Government Administration Officials (led by the Deputy County Commissioner) jointly assessed the root causes of the cross-border conflict. They identified theft of cattle and incitement by politicians as key drivers of the crisis.
At Sondu in Soin-Sigowet, religious leaders led consultations that included peace actors, village elders, community members, and National Government Administration Officials (NGAO) led by the Deputy County Commissioner. They identified contentions on where the boundary between Kisumu and Kericho counties lies, with both counties claiming Sondu Town and other areas. Persistent spreading of propaganda and false narratives was also fingered as a driver of the conflict.
Subsequently, the NCCK on Wednesday facilitated the two communities to have an interethnic peace forum at Thessalia in Muhuroni. The forum was officiated by Bishop Prof David Kodia, the NCCK Chairman in Nyanza Region, alongside Assistant County Commissioners from Nyakach Upper, Nyakach Central and Soin-Sigowet. The two communities listened to each other’s grievances, and resolved to jointly and separately promote peaceful coexistence.
Key activities agreed upon included speedy recovery of stolen cattle, community campaigns for peace and cohesion, and inter-ethnic exchange activities.
Further, the NCCK on Thursday reached out to the actors in the transport sector by holding a forum with representatives of boda boda riders groups and matatu saccos from both communities. The actors in this sector play a key role in promoting peace and cohesion due to their capacity to reach and serve all communities as this exposes them to social narratives.
Participants at the forum, held at Kapsorok, agreed that boda boda riders will be integrated in inter-county efforts to combat cattle theft. On their part, the youth agreed to preach peaceful coexistence and to avoid revenge attacks. It was notable that despite initial tensions, the meeting ended with the members of the two communities laughing together and holding hands as a sign of unity.
The NCCK will continue to facilitate intensive peace and cohesion messaging along the border as well as advocating for resolution of the administrative and governance issues identified in the dialogue process.