The Words of the Wakhisi Family
A Day for Peace in Kenya
March 18, 2008
Secretary General, UPF-Kenya
In a response to the recent crisis in Kenya, UPF-Africa brought together a group of 800 leaders of Kenyan society at the Kenyatta International Conference Center in Nairobi to urgently consider how the core vision, principles, and programs of UPF might contribute to a peaceful resolution.
The conference, co-sponsored by Kenyan Veterans for Peace and with support from local corporations, was convened on the very day when the Kenyan parliament was in session with the specific purpose to bring an end to the political impasse and civil unrest that has plagued the country since the disputed presidential election of December 27, 2007.
The solution worked out in consultation with former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who called for the establishment of a power-sharing structure. Thus, in addition to the President and Vice President, there will now be a Prime Minister and two Deputy Prime Ministers. President Mwai Kibaki’s challenger, Hon. Raila Odinga, was appointed Prime Minister Designate on March 18.
The UPF Secretary General Dr. Thomas G. Walsh became the first foreign visitor following the historic peace agreement to call upon Hon. Raila Odinga and Mrs. Ida Odinga, who have both been actively involved in the work of UPF over the past few years. The new Prime Minister explained that they he had found the peace principles of the UPF “very helpful” in a time of desperate crisis.
The two-day conference was the latest in the ongoing UPF series of International Leadership Conferences on the theme, “Toward a New Paradigm of Leadership and Good Governance for Peace and Development.” The presenters included Dr. Walsh; Dr. Manu Chandaria, Trustee, Mahatma Gandhi Foundation of Kenya; Mr. Martin Luther King III, Chairman of Realizing the Dream; Mr. Insu Choi of the Youth Federation for World Peace International. Rev. Mwalagho Kililo, Secretary General of UPF Africa; and Dr. Hee Sun Ji, Chairman of UPF-Kenya were the local hosts.
Dr. Chandaria spoke about Mahatma Gandhi, the inspiration for the emergence of Nairobi University. In honor of the presence of Mr. Martin Luther King III, he underscored the influence of Gandhi on the great non-violent civil rights leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mr. King spoke of the non-violent legacy of his father and mother and the ideal of a “beloved community” of peace. As Chairman of Realizing the Dream, Inc., Mr. King had come to Kenya to offer support and encouragement and to learn as much as he could about the current situation and explore ways in which Realizing the Dream could be a partner for peace. Dr. King invited the 1000 participants in the ILC to become Ambassadors for Peace. He said, “Sometimes we must take positions not because they are politic or popular, but because they are right.” He added that we should learn to “lead with love,” and spoke passionately about the need for an interfaith vision and of the challenge of turning dreams into reality. Mr. King also praised the decision by President Kibaki and Hon. Odinga to form a coalition, power-sharing government.
UPF-Africa and UPF-Kenya in particular are developing in substantial and very encouraging ways. Moreover, the International Leadership Conferences continue to be a major force promoting peace leadership and good governance. In conversation with several parliamentarians, Dr. Walsh and Rev. Kililo reported a spirit of great hope and resolve to work for a bright and peaceful future for Kenya.