Tuesday 14 May 2013

Kenya - Sant’Egidio and a dream of fraternity and peace

During this season of ethnical and identity polarisation in Kenya, San’Egidio made efforts to nurture a dream of fraternity and peace which is the longing of every Christian community, but also the ideal reference for the very Kenyan population.
The National Anthem speaks of Undugu (fraternity, in Swahili) and Amani (peace). The national motto is Harambee, meaning to work together, with a high and noble aim, to come together, to attract for the sake of each and everyone.
Still, Kenya faced difficult times, of mutual opposition and violence: its citizens were divided and fought one another. This was the story of the presidential elections 2007, and of the subsequent clashes, which caused almost 1,000 dead and 600,000 internally displaced people.

Such an outcome was feared also for this March’s elections. The Kenyan society and the faithful of every religion hoped and prayed for a civil and peaceful confrontation. The communities of Sant’Egidio organised prayers and marches for peace.
The final result of the poll was declared at the end of the month. And, while many considered more prudent to move towards their own home villages, in order not to be found in an “ethnically wrong” area, when the definitive results of the ballot were proclaimed, the youth and the adults of the Community gathered together in Nakuru for Easter, to be together beyond any ethnical of political difference.

Luckily the confirm of the election at the first poll of the new president, Uhuru Kenyatta, was accompanied by few isolated incidents and some protest, but without risking again widespread clashes. For better or worse, it was a victory of reason, unity and peace.
Sant’Egidio lives such a tension to unity and peace along the whole year. It happens in the different places where it is - Nairobi and Nakuru, but also Eldoret, Kisumu, Mombasa, Homa Bay - in the may services given to the poor regardless from their origin, story or religion: about ten Schools for Peace started in these years, whereas in five towns there is a passionate friendship with the elderly, and in Nakuru and Eldoret the female prisoners of the local jails are visited.

The service becomes commonality of spirit, ideals and dreams, above all, beyond any ethnical temptation, becoming the choice of working together for a country united by a common destiny between different population and traditions. This is the way to built a civilisation of coexistence, a future of fraternity and peace that the fathers of decolonisation imagined 50 years ago for their countries and the whole continent.


  1. In Nakuru we atrr friends with eight elders. we are the family that they no longer have.