By Sammi Nderitu
Globally, political elections are emotive and always hold the potential for the eruption of chaos. In Kenya, since the advent of multiparty, every election has been characterized by heated debates, cases of violence and other security breaches. In several instances, communities that previously lived in peace have been incited into devastating fights with each other. Consequently, lives have been lost and properties worth millions of shillings destroyed. The worst electoral violence in Kenya took place in 2007/8.
As noted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies report, Kenya’s 2008 post-election violence played out largely on ethnic lines, and ethnicity continues to play an inordinate role in Kenyan political life. Ethnic-based violence has a long history in the country, fueled by grievances over land, privilege, and inequality.
A Human Rights Watch Report also notes that on August 12, 2017, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights reported that the police had killed at least 24 people nationwide. The violence which resulted to the death of at least 12 people was sparked by the declaration of the presidential results.
To prevent a reoccurrence of the post-election violence, IMLU with the support of NCCK and USAID, initiated a peace campaign that involved the use of bodaboda riders and other ordinary citizens. Additionally, the campaign aimed at informing people on the need to report cases of state perpetrated violation and gender based violence.
When we started distribution of the 7, 500 boda boda reflectors in 43 counties, we aimed at encouraging communities to coexist peacefully without fighting on account of tribal lines. The jackets bore the message “Uchaguzi 2022, Natetea Haki, Nalinda Amani. Kuna ngori? Pigia IMLU kwa nambari 0800721401 upate usaidizi.” The strategy to use the bodaboda riders was informed by the need to reach many people with the messages within a short time since the motorbikes are a preferred means of transport in city estates and rural areas.
By working with riders from different communities, we aimed at promoting peaceful coexistence among different ethnic communities.