A group of the 2007/2008 Kiambaa Church post-election violence survivors has thrown its weight behind the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
The survivors say BBI should be embraced if it is the only way to guarantee peace during elections.
Rev Stephen Mburu of the Kenya Assemblies of God (KAG) Church said the January 1, 2008 arson attack led to a lot of suffering and urged Kenyans to back the initiative started by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
He said what transpired in Kenya after the 2007 presidential election should never happen again, adding that ordinary people and leaders should strive to build bridges and address issues affecting them peacefully.
Rev Mburu and his group pleaded with every Kenyan to support the BBI.
“There is need for peace. We understand violence and would not want to witness it again. If BBI can bring lasting peace, let us embrace it,” Rev Mburu said.
“We must preach peace and support the President and the ODM leader. Every corner of this country has been living in fear.”
Dividends of peace
Ms Rebecca Wangui Kiongo, whose husband, Samuel Kiongo Merethu, died in the church attack, said the survivors’ trauma has made them understand the dividends of peace.
“What this country witnessed made us understand the effects of hatred and disunity. We are fully behind the BBI because it will bring peace,” Mrs Kiongo said during a press conference in Eldoret.
Mr Merethu, Joseph Kimani, Mitati Rubia, George Miriu, James Mwicigi, Peter Mwangi, Margaret Wanjiru and Simon Gathimba were reportedly killed at the height of the post-election violence.
Four people who were charged with killing Mr Merethu and the other six victims were freed by High Court Judge David Maraga — now chief justice — in 2009.
Justice Maraga faulted the prosecution for not providing enough evidence to convict the four.
Ms Kiongo said the Kiambaa church survivors have become peace ambassadors and would not want to see the country divided along ethnic lines.
Ms Cynthia Njeri, another peace ambassador, pleaded with political and other leaders not to make inflammatory speeches.
Among those backing BBI was Mr Philip Kimunya, the son of Elizabeth Wangui – the elderly woman whose photo appeared in newspapers wailing during the chaos.
“We should not reopen post-election violence cases. What the country needs is unity,” Mr Kimunya said.
Apart from Eldoret, violence in Nakuru, Naivasha, Kisumu, Nairobi and parts of western Kenya also claimed the lives of hundreds of people.