A Time To Build Bridges

How can Kenyans avoid becoming mere bystanders in the unfolding national drama? Behind every challenge is an opportunity. Behind the challenges facing our nation, I see the opportunity for us to become…

1. Bridge-builders: I’m part of a generation that has grown up surrounded by friends from other tribes. Most of my friends married with no regard to their spouses ethnicity. Yet this last week has destroyed a generation’s innocence and has polarized the closest of friends (I’ve been prayin’ for inter-tribal marriages!) When threatened, we tend to withdraw to what’s safe e.g. our parents, even when they have a tribal mindset. This is the time to reach out to our friends from other tribes and assure them of our continued love and friendship. It’s a time to learn to be sensitive with our words/language. Perhaps we’ll even become deeper friends for it!

2. Wall-breakers: Whatever our position in society, we have our part to play in breaking the dividing walls. We need to refuse the polarization and stereotyping. We need to confess our own deep rooted suspicion of other tribes. We need to begin learning to focus on and highlight their good attributes. We need to refuse to isolate ourselves (hanging with friends who are just like us) or to fight others (e.g. listening to and spreading rumors and malicious sms’). We need to refuse to encourage ethnocentric conversations in our homes – for most of us, the people we look up to and respect the most are the ones that we may have to correct. Perhaps this will help us move beyond superficial peace to real unity as a nation!

3. Door-openers: We need to leave our middle-class comfort zones and radically identify with the poor. This goes beyond charity and handouts to sacrificial living. Open up an extra room for a displaced family or help a child escape poverty by supporting their education. Give up your weekends to provide skill training at a children’s home. We need to realize that our position is a privilege, and that we are blessed to be a blessing. May this situation result in a more just and equitable society!

I pray that one day, people will say Kenya actually become a better place to live because of this crisis. Perhaps we’ll be able to say then what the biblical Joseph said about a dark season of his life; ‘what the evil one intended for harm, God worked out for our good, and for the good of our nation

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