Peace is one of the basic needs of our human existence and development, and it facilitates an environment for all other dimensions to run smoothly in society. For this reason, we all struggle to create peace in different communities that are affected by conflicts and other forms of injustices which affect a peaceful co-existence. All people not only need but wish to enjoy a peaceful environment. Samburu–Turkana communities living to the south of Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya have had a long history of constant fighting and war between them.
Living in and witnessing this conflict situation for long time, Tuum Parish in consultation with the local chiefs and influential opinion shapers sought to initiate peace talks among the two communities. As a way of creating enduring peace and reconciliation between the two ethnic groups the Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (SCCRR) with its professional expertise in conflict transformation and peacebuilding methodologies were asked to intervene. The tremendous and tireless work of SCCRR, the Tuum Parish Team and Community leaders has been a key figure in the process of peace building in the area. People from all faiths and social stratas became part of the process.
Since Shalom started and facilitated peace talks between Turkana in Parkatti and Samburu in Tuum, there has been a great change in attitude and tolerance between the two communities. We can happily say that we enjoy an environment of peace among the two communities.
Before the church and Shalom came in, people were living in a state of fear and without inner and community peace among themselves and with their neighbors. Both ethnic groups were always in fear of attack from each other. They never thought that peace can prevail in their lives and have a healthy relationship with their neighbors. Many people lost their innocent lives and others lost their livestock due to tribal conflicts. Many children became orphans and women widowed. Through the efforts of peace dialogue initiated and facilitated by Shalom in Tuum, a peace agreement was reached where communities agreed that each village must protect each other as though they were one community.
Some of the locals in the community stated that, “since 2016, we have lived in a peaceful environment. These are the fruits of the peace initiatives of Shalom group. We are enjoying peace now and people can walk from Parkati to Tuum peacefully. Today, Turkanas can stay in Tuum for some days and do shopping peacefully and interact without fear. From the side of the Turkanas, warriors (Morans) have come up with a place of meeting for peace dialogue and build trust among themselves and the Samburu warriors.”
Indeed, even despite the harsh drought that we have been experiencing, there is a peaceful coexistence among the two communities today and children from both villages socialize well. For instance, pupils from Parkati can sleep in the school dormitories of Tuum primary for couple of days and later return to their school. This is a clear sign of peace and mutual trust and support between the two schools. More beautiful to mention is that a number of Turkana pupils are studying in Tuum and there are some Turkana teachers who are now teaching and living among the Samburu community in Tuum. We are grateful to Shalom for the continued support of our schools by providing much needed educational aids such as books and desks as well as building materials where necessary.
There is still a lot to be done. For this reason, with the help of Shalom, we have created different peace groups basing on their cultural ways of socialization. That is, peace clubs in school, women for peace club, warriors and elders. We really appreciate that there has been a positive response and reception of the message of peace and now the locals are embracing the process together.
I will conclude by appreciating and thanking the Shalom Team for the continued support and initiatives of peace building in the areas affected by violence and tribal conflicts.
Fr. Gyaviira Kateregga, MXY