Kenya: missionary sees 'signs of hope' amidst chaos

 Most Kenyans want peace and are praying incessantly for peace" a missionary working in Kenya has told CISA Catholic news agency based in Nairobi. "There are small signs of hope which show that the majority of Kenyans want peace" Consolata missionary, Fr Luigi Anataloni, said. "On 6 January for a whole hour from 6-7pm inter-denominational prayers for peace were broadcast on national radio and TV channels. In Nairobi alone there are seven or eight places where the people pray incessantly for peace with 24 hour adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. In my parish the Sunday Masses were attended by much larger crowds than usual. And after Mass people of all different ethnic origin stayed on to chat in front of the church, to rediscover the sense of being together in peace and they appeared to have no wish to leave". Fr Luigi pointed out that many parts of Kenya have not been affected by violence: "The situation is calm in a vast area of central Kenya, and in other parts where people are celebrating the new year as usual" Fr Luigi said. "The clashes have been in areas with existing tensions due to disputes between farmers and herdsmen for control of water and fertile land, and above all in poorer districts". "In Nairobi, the missionary explained, the clashes were mainly in the slums where people live on less than a dollar a day. However what struck me most was in Kisumu, 'capital' of the Luo people, (the tribe which feels most defrauded by the 27 December elections). How can people destroy their own town? One would think that the fighting must have been orchestrated: it is easy to convince people who have nothing to lose to carry out 'punitive' sacking". As the international press reported, the clashes were started mainly by ethnic Luo, who accused the Kikuyu, the ethnic group of outgoing president Kibaki, of power grabbing. "There is a problem of tribalism, but it has been exploited by one political party for its own ends" said Fr Luigi. "It is not true that all the Kikuyu voted en masse for the outgoing president, who led a heterogeneous coalition comprising various components. In actual fact the people of Kenya are more mature than the violence would make people think. Criminal interests are also involved with sacking and looting of homes and shops. Who is going to do the rebuilding? Why were some businesses attacked rather than others in the same place? The questions must be answered to see if this is more than purely tribal conflict. "For example in the chaos, the Mungiki reappeared, launching threats and intimidation. The Mungiki disappeared after the police launched a campaign to rid the capital's slums of their control" said Fr Luigi. "The way out of the crisis is for politics to examine its conscience with regards to corruption, still a serious problem. The two main ethnic groups Kikuyu and Luo, must re-think their relations between themselves and with the rest of the country. The local Catholic Church must continue to accompany the people helping them to see the danger of tribalism and promoting reconciliation and forgiveness, as it already helped to instil a sense of democracy in the people" the missionary concluded. Source: Fides/CISA

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