Our beloved county Kenya gained independence in 1963, bringing together a great people consisting of over 40 ethnic groups with rich cultural diversity. Kenya has over the years emerged a giant in the sporting arena and a tourist destination of choice for many across the world due to its serene coastal beaches, its attractive wildlife and rich game parks. The country had for many years been considered as a bastion of economic and political stability in a volatile region.
Despite these gains and celebrated advantages, Kenya has over the years also experienced violence and turmoil during months prior to, and after the general elections that take place every five years. The worst of these occurred after the 2007 general election where more than one thousand people lost their lives and up-to 500,000 persons were internally displaced.
As we approach general elections, across the nation, individuals seeking elective positions use vast resources and energy to push their personal agenda. In the process these “leaders” excite tensions and jeopardize the already delicate “peace” that exists in this country. Against this background, we see a need for initiatives that will serve to unite Kenyan, providing an alternative script to that given by the political elite, a call for peace and patriotism, and a love for our country.
It is against this background that the Nairobi Advent Ensemble run a peace-patriotic campaign dubbed “1,000 Voices for Peace: Pamoja for Kenya” that shall bring together singers and poets in a bid to keep the banner of peace and patriotism afloat through-out delicate electioneering period.
We recall how the song “Daima Mimi Mkenya” by Eric Wainaina became instrumental in the rallying call for peace in the months following the 2007 general elections. We feel that our music, poetry and peace-patriotic forums, well packaged and widely broad-cast through local media, can serve to unite Kenya for peace. Music has been used in other countries, Burundi and South Africa, to share messages of hope and feelings of national harmony in troubled times.
In each of these settings, music has been used as alternative form of expression for taking part in social dialogue. Music may be used as a form of non-violent dialogue, giving young people another way to express themselves and even teaching alternative modes of addressing conflict. Music can also be used to broaden the dialogue to the general population.