“How Kiamaiko turned into a battleground”
“Chaos in Kiamaiko as groups fight over right to hold prayers”
“Trigger Happy Police Kill Man In Kiamaiko Clashes“
These are the headlines that Kiamaiko residents woke up to on May 17th this year. Clashes that had left several people injured and business counting loses. Two groups were at loggerheads, each supposedly seeking to establish its dominance over their rights to hold prayers. Things got out of control when one group decided to involve the police; questions lingered: what could have triggered it all? Was there something that could have been done? What should be done to calm these tensions? Could Christians and Muslims in this area live in harmony?
That was a few months ago, this week on Moi day, 10th October, Inter-Religious Council of Kenya under the initiative of Building Interfaith Bridges held a Maskani talk at A.C.K St Judes Church in Kiamaiko. Diverse youths from both religious groups convened at the hall to address issues that could have caused these conflicts and dialogue on what could have been done differently or what shouldn’t have been done at all.
It had been two weeks of tension rising in the area; the Muslims complained that the overnight Keshas (prayers) were too loud and the Christians claimed that the muadhini was too loud; leading to each group wanting to claim their rights. ‘I remember that day, we were holding muhadhara (interfaith dialogues) when the first incident occurred…’one of the youth started his narration of the events of that day; ‘we were holding our crusade when the police stormed the place and shut down the crusade and chased us away’ , ‘when the police took sides it felt that they favored one side over the other’ , others recollected. Key issues kept on emerging from the discussions, could it be there was other underlying issues that had not been resolved? Could it have been a result of tribal issues among the residents? If ‘wazee wa nyumba kumi’ (Elders) were involved, wasn’t it their responsibility to ensure that this did not escalate to the levels that it did? Was it really just about religious differences? Was it necessary to involve the police? If the youths were being influenced by outside forces – people with their own interests could it mean that the youths in this area were idle, easily manipulated or under the influence of something? One after the other the youths aired their views on the clashes and their stand on this particular incident. As the conversations progressed it was evident how this topic of interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance was close to their hearts.
After a lengthy and captivating discussion, the youths at Kiamaiko unveiled a wall of peace. The wall had “Live in Harmony” boldly written across it.
A clear indication and reminder to everyone who lives and passes by that wall that they all needed to live in a harmonious community.
By Mary N. Ndulili
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