Once the model of peace in East Africa, Kenya fell into turmoil in 2007 during the electoral process. Since then, there have been a number of changes to the process and the distribution of electoral boundaries. The next election in Kenya will take place 4 March 2013.
From now to that date is a crucial period. This period is a point where political rhetoric will increase, opposition to the current leadership will challenge every move and the people will be encouraged to rise up. Each of these events are positives for a healthy and engaged people if the emotions and actions are managed properly.
All too often we view elections as a defined moment of government process. It is true that there is a defined window in which we must vote. What has come to be a reality is that people use that window to educate themselves on complex and far reaching policies. The reality is that elections are no time to debate policy because the time frame is too short and the issues are too complex. What comes to pass as debate morphs into sound bites, catch phrases, photo opportunities and smear campaigns.
With one year to go before the next election in Kenya, there needs to be a strong civic engagement effort built upon the need for controlled opposition. The entire group of parties and leaders that are involved with the leadership of Kenya need to come out now with a unified voice which speaks to the need for order.
The leaders need to be unified in their speech when it comes to protests, demonstrations and electoral integrity. Each leader needs to support the people to share their ideas in a positive manner. Furthermore the leaders of Kenya need to exemplify this in their own actions.
Peace is an environment that has to be prepared for and maintained. It is not a situation that comes bursting into reality as chaos does. The 2007 riots in Kenya proved how quickly peace can be lost. Once again an irresponsible leadership that promotes physical opposition quickly bring chaos which takes years to rebuild.
To bring an end to such a reality the people of Kenya have to be reminded that they are responsible as well. The government is the people and the leaders will prey on the mindset of the people. The people have to be educated to see the reality of their power to tell leaders who call for violence to step down. Violence is not to be tolerated and the best way to oppose violence is to stand peacefully in solidarity against those that call for the use of violence.
East Africa is once again building a peaceful society. Kenya is a major component in that region. The next year will be a turning point for peace.