It is just a few days before Kenya decides who will be their fourth president. To prevent a recurrence of the 2007-08 post-election violence, on 24 February presidential candidates took part in a national service of repentance and reconciliation.
The event came after Prophet Dr David Edward Owuor’s prediction that Kenya would experience yet more general election violence after the vote next Monday. Dr Owuor warned that unless Kenyans, and their leaders, repented, the violence would be worse than that witnessed five years ago.
The Prophet’s prediction was not taken lightly, and his call for three days of national fasting, prayer and repentance attracted a huge crowd – much bigger than any drawn by religious crusaders in the recent past.
People from all walks of life gathered at the famous Uhuru Park grounds in Nairobi. Six of the eight presidential candidates attended: Prime Minister Raila Odinga; Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta with his running mate William Ruto; Martha Karua with her running mate Francis Lotodo; Muhamed Dida; Peter Kenneth with his running mate Ronald Osumba; and Professor James Ole Kiyiapi with his running mate Winnie Kaburu Kinyua.
Dr Owuor’s alert had spread throughout the country like bush fire. Interviewed on national television, he warned: ‘People are now armed with illicit firearms and well organized for [post-election violence].’
Some Kenyans have been so frightened by the warnings that they have left their homes and moved to other parts of the country where they feel safer.
On the climactic last day of the event, the Prophet led the politicians in an act of repentance and reconciliation, for the sake of the nation’s peace. More than a hundred political leaders, particularly those vying for seats, attended the prayer day, with each vowing to keep the peace and accept the election results. This was seen as another milestone in Kenya’s efforts to heal the wounds caused five years ago.
Maina Njenga, the former Mungiki (an outlawed youth group) leader, sent the crowd into a frenzy when he arrived. His group banner carried a message similar to the rest: ‘Mungiki Repents and Denounces Violence.’ Many people were shocked to witness such a group come out in broad daylight in this way, in front of the cameras of three leading broadcasting companies.
Raila Odinga repented on behalf of the whole country as Prime Minister, and also on his own behalf as a presidential candidate looking forward to continuing to lead the nation. He promised to maintain peace and urged his rivals to do the same.
Martha Karua said that though humans may repent and be reconciled, declaring peace for the country means nothing if the words are not followed up by action. Human beings are weak in the flesh, she explained, even though in the spirit they may be willing to observe peace.
Uhuru Kenyatta and James Ole Kiyiapi assured Kenyans that regardless of the election outcome, they would accept the verdict of the people and were ready to see that peace prevailed: ‘Let us walk the talk for the sake of our beloved country. Elections come and go, but life must continue,’ Kiyiapi advised.
Dr Owuor urged candidates to live up to their words, since the country is bigger than any of them. He added that repentance was necessary in order for God to forgive the sins committed and predicted that there would be a peaceful election on 4 March and that Kenya would elect a God-fearing president.
He assured the crowd: ‘Kenyans will never rise against one other again. Six presidential candidates have made a public declaration of peace. Church leaders, different communities and Mungiki have repented before the Lord and before millions. Shalom Kenya!’
Join us for our live blog ‘Kenya Votes’, during the presidential polls on 4 March 2013. We will be working with Radar and citizen journalists reporting on events from all over the country, via SMS.