KENYA DECIDES: Peace Campaigns Intensify Days to Historic Vote

Scenes like these marred the aftermath of the 2007 General elections
Scenes like these marred the aftermath of the 2007 General elections

Kenyans have intensified peace campaigns in a move to discourage violence during and after the March 4th general elections. Musicians, public officials and local investors have used all means possible to reach out to voters urging them to be peaceful. Musicians have composed songs for peace in move to reach all Kenyans. The General Service Unit, a paramilitary unit of the Kenyan military has had a collaboration with musician, Rufftone accompanied by the National youth service. The song Titled ‘Mungu Baba’ urges Kenyans to conduct elections peacefully. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), a government agency charged with peaceful coexistence of all Kenyans, has also been busy conducting peaceful election campaigns in public universities as well as through other channels. The commission has rallied behind different musicians preaching the same message of peace. The Commission has for several weeks now run television adverts asking Kenyans to live in harmony with each other. The Kenya Red Cross too has not been left out. The Society together with several musicians on Thursday held an all day peace concert dubbed ‘Chagua Peace campaign’ at Uhuru Park in Nairobi. Abbas Gullet, the Red Cross Secretary General, says this is a highly charged political time and voters need to be peaceful. At 1 pm the Grounds at Uhuru Park were filled by the national anthem to signify one people, one nation, united in prayer for one Kenya. This was symbolic given that the events of 2008. The society together with all the eight presidential candidates signed peace pledge in the past week seeking all candidates to committee to peaceful means of resolving any dispute. The pledge also binds the candidates to accept defeat upon losing an election. Eric Wainaina, a Kenya musician cum songwriter, sang the Kiswahili Version of ‘Kenya Only’, a song that was widely used in 2007 -2008 post elections violence to calm citizens down. At the time, although not recognized officially, this song was regarded as the second national anthem because of the role it played. It was a constant reminder of what the National Flag colours stand for. The Post election violence saw businesses lose an estimated 10 billion Kenya shillings, according the Kenya Association of Manufacturers. So this time local companies too have invested in the peace adverts on broadcast and print adverts. For instance, Basco paints and Crown paints have been running adverts highlighting the importance of harmonious living using the various colours. It remains to be seen if this concerted campaign will be successful.

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