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MMUST and Victims of Terrorism Organization Kenya (VTOK) are participating in a joint Workshop on Building a Culture of Peace and non-Violence, 5th to 8th June 2018. MMUST Director of International Relations and Academic Linkages (DIAL), Dr. Catherine Aurah, said that the workshop is part of activities of a collaborative MoU to create peaceful society and develop Peace Ambassadors. “The world is messed up by war and conflict all over, and it is high time we develop processes that will create peaceful societies” said Dr. Aurah.

Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), represented by the Director of Voter Education, Mr. Rasi Masudi, lamented on how Kenya has had challenges in organizing credible elections. “Every time we hold elections an aspect of violence emerges before, during and after the electoral period, and this is a major challenge; credible elections should only occur in an environment of peace” he said. His presentation drove participants into various peace-related matters in Kenya, and particularly the hopes for sustained peace following The Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, who has embarked on peace missions in South Sudan and other parts of the world.

Protective and Safety Association of Kenya National Chairman, Mr. Enock Alumasi, addressed the issue of personal and institutional preparedness in the face of insecurity and terror. He noted that terrorists are opportunists who look for high impact soft targets, that when attacked, the damage justifies the terrorist ideologies and missions. While focusing on the US Embassy bombing (7th August 1998), Kikambala Hotel bombing (28th November 2002), Kampala Bombings during the FIFA World Cup (11th July 2010), the Westgate Mall attack (21st September 2013), and with emphasis on the Garissa University attack (2nd April 2015); he raised concerns on the security situation in most institutions that still need to be up-scaled. “We have an increase in terror-related problems in Kenya due to lack of a stable government in Somalia, and we need to be vigilant” said Mr. Alumasi. He further observed that the driving factors of terrorism are poverty, marginalization, unemployment, and discrimination. He mentioned that the government had put in place strategies to address these issues through capacity building, educating the masses to create awareness, and psycho-social approaches. 

Director VTOK, Mr. James Ndeda, explained that the organization was formed in the year 2010, following cries of victims of the 1998 Al Qaeda bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi. With the slogan “Stop Terrorism!”, VTOK has been raising the concerns of victims of terror, and advocates for non-violence. “Our organization is not limited to activities of groups like Al Qaeda, ISIS and Al Shabaab, but all forms of terror that exist in our societies”. He elaborated that terrorism is any unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to cause intimidation or coerce a government or the civilian population in furtherance of political or social objectives. VTOK has built collaborations around the world with organizations such as Association of French Victims of Terrorism based in Paris, and the EU-funded Radicalization Awareness Network (RAN) based in the Netherlands.

MMUST Vice Chancellor, Prof. Eng. Fred Otieno, while addressing the participants, asserted that peace, love and unity are necessary for industrialization and national development; and highly necessary for implementing the Presidential Big Four Agenda. In an open conversation that brought up names like Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Prof. Wangari Maathai and Bishop Cornelius Korir to be among global icons of peace, he advised that peace is primarily a personal responsibility. “The concept of security was re-defined following the September 11 World Trade Centre attack, and there has since been sharp increase in insecurity and terrorism all over the world” said Prof. Otieno. He said that “the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 is an example of how a peaceful nation could suddenly turn into a valley of insecurity, terror and death, and Kenyans should avoid political trends the led to the 2007 post-election violence”. The Vice Chancellor noted the successful elimination of the culture of electoral violence in MMUST ever since he reported in 2013, in a statement that was louded by MMUSO President Mr. Brian Okeja. He focused on the MMUST-VTOK agenda to counter violence and extremism using education, in which the university will develop academic programmes ranging from university to secondary schools, through to the lowest level of the education system. He as well said that MMUST would establish Peace Centres, and would thrive to develop programmes that exploit Sports and Cultural Diplomacy for peace. “MMUST is preparing for a major Peace Summit in November 2018” said Prof. Otieno.

Other organizations represented in the workshop included National Intelligence Service (NIS), National Crime Research Centre (NCRC), Government Administration (County Commissioner and Area Chiefs), Religious Organizations, Political Leadership, Vihiga Prison, Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), Kenya Community Support Centre (KECOSCE) among others. Amongst the facilitators were MMUST staff comprising of Dr. Peter Bukhala, Dr. Beatrice Barasa, Rev. Dr. Elijah Odhiambo, Rev. Fr. Dr. Kizito Muchanga and the Community Liaisons Officer Mr. Oscar Waswa. The event was graced by a peace-building football match between the current KUSA Champions MMUST FC and the historical soccer giants Green Commandos of Kakamega High School.

 

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