Monday, March 15, 2010



By John Harrington Ndeta
PeaceNet Kenya

In the light of the perceived standoff at the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) over questions raised by various stakeholders and touching on the Chairman Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat among other issues, it is high time each and every Kenyan soberly looked at this all important process with the benefit of hindsight.

This week, the commission seems to have once again managed to restart its awareness creation campaigns with focus shifting to the capital City Nairobi, where various interest groups were well-informed.

Many had come out forcibly in the preceding weeks to challenge the theory that Kenya is in a Transitional period that creates a conducive environment for a TJR to be effected. Looked at from the eyes the Kenyan referred to in Kiswahili as Wananchi (citizens) and not wenyenchi (owners of the country), the answer is an affirmative YES.

It is the Kenyans who have borne the brunt of historical injustices who urgently need Truth to be unearthed, Justice done and Reconciliation realized. The post-poll violence of 2007/8 only came to remind us of the time-bomb that we have been sitting on for years and a TJR process can be the best panacea in bridging the ever widening societal chasm amongst Kenyans.

The ideology of reconciliation remains the overriding factor in determining the direction of the TJR process. It has been argued in other quarters and I wish to reiterate, that if the commission is deeply divided as things stand now, how will it by any chance manage to bridge the divide amongst Kenyans?

It is important to note that until the issue of reconciliation is totality dealt with, Kenya will never undergo a full rebirth. This as some have argued; is a product and not an end in itself and thus, the means to the end need to be as clear and plausible as possible. As such, reconciliation is a product of being confronted with the details of truths and deciding that; yes, this is what we are as a society, yet we can change the course of action once and for all.

Just like Zachaeus of the Bible who said he would repay four times what he had stolen after realizing his mistakes, the option of reparation should remain open and this is only possible where the concept of Reconciliation is well understood and appreciated by all Kenyans.

Tensions and tribal animosity witnessed I 2007/8 and thereafter is an indicator of how much Kenyan communities need to be reconciled if we are to stick together as one cohesive nation.

Reconciliation as a process requires involvement and participation of all stakeholders. It requires the Government of Kenya, Development Partners, and Civil Societies to give each other space if we are to undertake a viable and realistic TJR process.

Even as the Commission starts going around the country reaching out to various stakeholders in the TJR process, the public must remain vigilant to ensure that Truth, Justice and reconciliation is realized. There is need to bridle our expectations as individuals, communities and interest groups paving way for some work to be carried out.

My interaction with various TJR experts reveals that the prevailing turmoil in the initial stages of the TJRC is not unique to Kenya. It is an indication that realizing a rebirth is no mean task. As peace practitioners would say it is normal to differ and but how we resolve our differences is what matters as it can leave the warring factions asunder or united.

All Kenyans must remember that TJR process is not about being malicious but allowing people to genuinely admit their misdeeds paving way for justice and reconciliation to be realized. It does not seek to downplay the pains, sorrow and anguish people have been subjected to through history. Neither is it just about finding people guilty and punishing them. On the contrary, a TJR Process seeks to provide a platform upon which the above injustices can be resolved conclusively leading to a new beginning for all Kenyans.

The Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Act 2008 which gave birth to the current Grand Coalition Government of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga proposed a TJR process as one of the mechanisms through which the Kenyan society should be woven into one fabric. Agenda IV of the National Accord requires of the Grand Coalition Government to oversee the reform agenda.

Thus, for the Kibaki-Raila Led Government to give birth to a TJR process that is supposed to bring about Truth, Justice and Reconciliation and then distance itself from it is tantamount to blinding our eyes to orgies of our past akin to the proverbial Ostrich that hides its head in the sand when it sees the bush burning.

Worse still, it will be abandoning a legal obligation, for the Government to throw away TJRC just because of the squabbles akin to throwing out the birth water and the child. Though the waters are dirty, we need the child; that is the TJR process.

Government must come out strongly and seek to correct any perceived or real fears about the commission allowing it run smoothly if we are to realize objectives of its formation. Let every Kenyan, led by the Coalition Government Principals volunteer to safeguard the TJR process if we are to dig up Truth, mete out Justice and foster Reconciliation amongst all.

Last but not least, many Kenyans have raised concerns over the viability of the TJR process. Just like many other commissions formed in this country, Kenyans are increasingly getting worried of the possibilities of implementing findings of the TJR commission.

It is high time the political class moved to deliberately assure Kenyans of political will so that our efforts do not go down the trench like many other commissions of the past. Parliament through the Parliamentary select committee on the Implementation of the findings of TJRC as anticipated in the TJRC Act 2008 ought to be formed with immediate effect to introduce amendments to the Act clearly laying out action plan on the finding of the TJR process.

This we propose that it is well laid out akin to the WAKI Commission so that if an implementing organ fails to act, another would take the matter and ensure that Truth, Justice and Reconciliation is realized I Kenya.

Apparently, the Kenyan public has the will to go the way. Let not an individual, a group or institution stand in the way of this much needed process at this period in the history of our beloved country.

The Writer is the Information and Communication Officer
PeaceNet Kenya