Taming the “monster”

Speaking after the signing of a power-sharing agreement in Kenya, opposition leader, Raila Odinga thanked Kofi Annan for his role in achieving the historic agreement, and in closing said “We have now opened a new chapter in our history, from the era of confrontation to the beginning of cooperation. We should ensure that Kenyans begin to celebrate and love each other, that we destroy the monster that is called ethnicity.”

Paging through the news headlines, we are reminded once again that intolerance is the root of all conflicts.

Whether it be Race – as we see with the latest racist videos of university students in South Africa; Sex – demonstrations for gay rights in Mozambique; Ethnicity – recent violence in Kenya; Health – HIV/AIDS stigma throughout Africa – discrimination is at the core of instability and stunted economic growth.

There is no greater barrier to development than discrimination. Discrimination leads to stigmatization. And those who are stigmatized become victims in their societies, denied equal opportunities to reach their full potential and contribute to economic growth.

The Durban Declaration, adopted in 2001 during the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, acknowledges that poverty, marginalization, social exclusion and economic inequalities “contribute to the persistence of racist attitudes and practices which in turn generate more poverty.”

So how do we tame this “monster”?

In his closing statement President Kibaki said “Kenya has room for all of us if we can enhance peace and tolerance. Fellow Kenyans, we stand before you to give a solemn commitment”

It is time to hold our leaders accountable to their words.


2 Responses to “Taming the “monster””

  1. 1 Mohamed Basmeir March 3, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    There’s no doubt to this master-piece article that spells out the dangers of ethnecity that Kenya was descending to it. Thanks to Kibaki and Odinga who managed to overcome the post elections mayhem. The leaders have put behind there differences and looked forward for a real settlement on their differences brought by Annan,Mkapa and Kikwete.
    We hail the statemanship and patriotism that sprung from the hearts of two leaders, compromising for the sake of Kenya. kenya is re-born , all efforts are now geared towards a implementation of agreed changes and a speedy healing of the wounds that the country has now managed to stave off the dangers of ethnecity .
    Those who died, let it be known – their blood will strengthen the tree of unity – the fruits of which, will be reaped by the coming generation. Long live Kenya.

  2. 2 Line Hadsbjerg March 3, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    May your words be true – we all hope for a Kenya that is reborn and strengthened.

    After spending 5 weeks in Kenya Kofi Annan ended his stay with the following words:
    “It is now time to say goodbye…I am glad we have come this far, but we do have a long road ahead and I would want all of you to remain engaged. We want Kenya to return to the old Kenya: stable, peaceful, prosperous and welcoming,’ he said.
    ‘The people from the region and the world recognise we need to build a secure Kenya, a peaceful Kenya that abides by the rules of law and respects human rights.’

    His closing sentence being the key to success.

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