The recent events in Kenya have brought back memories of the unfortunate violence that followed the elections of 2007. Most Kenyans share the feelings of concern as they read about or watch the news report sporadic violence. Of particular interest are the public utterances of politicians whose hypotheses on these acts of violence differ.
Are these acts of violence instigated by political, religious or could it be tribal conflict. The general population find themselves taking sides and expressing their opinions on each position. This situation is threatening to polarize the country along political and to some degree religious and tribal lines.
This seems to be the perfect recipe for generating an atmosphere of animosity—a poisonous atmosphere indeed. The atmosphere that needs to be avoided by all means, because it has the potential to render a country helpless while plagued by the toxic words and behaviours of its own leaders.
It was in an attempt to address the effects of a similar situation and present an alternative and more peaceful path to problem resolution that I opted to record the events of post election violence of 2008 in a children’s book.
In reflecting back on that decision I’m convinced it was the right decision and glad that the book is even more relevant in helping young minds make sense of the many volatile political situations challenging different nations today.
I wrote the manuscript that translated into the book titled “Resuscitating Kenya: United Nations to the Rescue” in 2008. However, the manuscript didn’t make it to the publisher until 2012, a time when I wondered about its relevance given that the country seemed to have been working through a healing process and the violence was starting to appear like a low point in the otherwise good history of Kenya.
One of the reasons for the delay in publishing was finding an illustrator. Such a manuscript—depicting real life violent events—seemed difficult to illustrate. After multiple attempts, one illustrator seemed to have captured the point of the story. He tactfully employed his skill as a cartoonist to present the story in picture form.
My desire to narrate the story to children was driven by the many years of working with children as an educator and clergy. My goal continues to be nourishing young minds and empowering them with choices that may help them seek to make positive contributions in life. Therapeutic story telling is a rich African oral heritage that continues to present a viable alternative in transmitting ideas, knowledge, values and other shared resources. In writing this book, I utilized this rich heritage to attempt a description of the situation and propose an alternative and peaceful avenue to problem solving.
The book endeavours to point out and celebrate the positive aspects of the country and its people, while decrying the fact that this positive aspect can easily be lost when dialogue and peaceful co-existence is ignored. I hope to seek more effective ways to promote this book that can present a forum for conversations in many families and communities.