Justice breeds peace, peace yields prosperity and prosperity stabilises a country. A country without peace is like a tree without roots; if shaken by the wind, its fruits will fall.
The story of Baby Samantha Pendo, a six-month-old infant epitomises divisive elections, and police brutality, which plagues our country. The 2017 elections that led to the re-election of H.E. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta saw a family lose a young innocent girl as police battled protesters who were unhappy with the elections results. Baby Pendo who was with her parents in their house at Kilo Junction in Nyalenda, Kisumu, was hit during a commotion, where police officers were chasing after protesters.
At the time baby Pendo’s family sought justice from Kenyan courts and at first, it never bore fruit and it seemed like the place where justice should be dispensed has acted as a place where justice is delayed for no good reason hence adding more pain and injury to those hoping to receive justice in the courts.
Justice breeds peace, peace yields prosperity and prosperity to stabilize a country. A country without peace is like a tree without roots; if shaken by the wind, its fruits will fall.
Thank God! Following Senior Resident Magistrate Beryl Omolo’s ruling in February 2019 justice was granted to Pendo’s parents and the culprits were brought to book after she ruled that there was enough evidence pointing to the culpability of members of the National Police Service in the death of the baby.
Notably, politicians in Kenya influence voters to vote in line with their tribes instead of selling policies and ideas to sway voters. This has always led elections in Kenya to be volatile and setting communities against each other.
Kenya has since independence been a country with stability and has been the envy of other African countries. The disputed elections of 2007, 2013 and 2017 have destabilized Kenya and resulted in Kenyans losing lives, businesses, homes, and jobs.
The safety and security of every citizen is a key role of the government, however, during elections, every Kenyan is at risk. Police and citizens turn against each other and the protests result in lives being lost and prosperity destroyed.
The right to picket and protest is guaranteed in the constitution, however Kenyans during this period abuse the rights. Instead of demonstrating peacefully they take this as an opportunity to steal and burn other citizen’s properties whom they believe voted for candidates they were against. As a result, police engage them in running battles and most end up injured or losing their lives and other innocent people also suffer the consequences just as Baby Pendo.
Kenya has historically struggled with divisive elections, to the point that presidential polls are now synonymous with violence, with 1992, 1997, 2007 and 2017 polls sticking out like a sore thumb.
Notably, it was the violence during the 2017 elections that triggered the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and inevitably, finding a lasting solution to this ugly state of affairs topped the nine-point agenda that formed the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
The Building Bridges Initiative seeks to address divisive elections by changing the structure of the national executive to make it more inclusive and ensure as many Kenyans as possible feel part of the government.