(Xinhua) -- Steve Omondi has vivid recollection of
the chaos that ensued in her neighbourhood in December 2007
following announcement of disputed presidential election
The 32 year old football coach and his
next of kin found themselves on the receiving end as marauding
gangs took advantage of the chaos to attack and rob innocent
Omondi and his family members were
lucky to escape slaughter thanks to benevolence of a local
priest who sheltered them until the post election skirmishes
Born and raised in Nairobi’s sprawling
Kariobangi estate, Omondi has grown accustomed to inter-ethnic
skirmishes that usually erupt in Kenya every election cycle.
Nevertheless, the decorated former
mid-fielder in a local football club has vowed to utilize his
mobilization skills to advocate for harmonious co-existence
among Kenyans from different political persuasions.
During an interview with Xinhua on
Saturday at a peace caravan organized by local charities, Omondi
said the tragic memories of 2007 to 2008 post election violence
have motivated him to occupy the front seat and advocate for
cohesion in this election cycle.
“Majority of slum youth have vowed to
use their positive energy to promote peace in our
communities as the country gears up for the August polls,”
He was among hundreds of youth who
participated in a peace caravan that snaked through the densely
populated Nairobi’s informal settlement to urge communities to
remain cohesive in this election season.
Omondi was optimistic that peace will
prevail in Kenya as the country gears up for hotly contested
elections despite gloomy predictions from naysayers.
“We have traversed many informal
settlements in this city and what is abundantly clear is
that Kenyans from all walks of life desire peace
irrespective of the outcomes of the forthcoming national
polls,” Omondi told Xinhua.
Both local and international charities
have been organizing forums, road shows and door to door
campaigns in Nairobi’s informal settlements to advocate for
The Priest in charge of Kariobangi
North Catholic Parish, Filipe Resende disclosed that the youth
have been receptive to the call for peace before, during and
after the August 8 general elections.
“We have reminded youth from poor
neighborhoods that violence does not benefit anyone and that
it is incumbent upon them to reject political thuggery,”
He noted that majority of the youth
from urban slums who have embraced the call to champion for
political tolerance happened to be victims of the 2007/08 post
“It is refreshing to witness hundreds
of slum youth join us in many forums around the city to
preach peace, unity and tolerance of diversity. This is a
promising trend in the country as we prepare for polls,”
Campaigns have entered homestretch as
Kenya brace for hotly contested election of a new president,
lawmakers, county executives and ward representatives.
Aspirants from both sides of the
political divide have been traversing the populous Nairobi slums
in the hunt for votes.
The candidates for elective seats have
been recruiting the youth to act as campaign agents aware that
this versatile demographic holds key to victory.
Nevertheless, youngsters like Mary
Muli, an 18 year old college student have resisted the lure of
campaign money to opt for productive ventures like peace
Muli and dozens of her age mates have
formed a peace advocacy network that has been reaching out to
disadvantaged youth in the urban slums to engage them in
preaching cohesion as the campaign season reaches a peak.
“The young people in this country
should observe decorum and tolerance to political diversity
as we head to the polls. We should be ambassadors for peace
since chaos will only destroy our future,” said Muli.
Her sentiments were shared by Lavender
Atieno, a 20 year old business under-graduate who has joined a
growing rank of under-privileged youth from the slums to
champion for harmonious co-existence among different ethnic
groups in this election cycle.
Born and raised in the expansive
Nairobi’s Korogocho slums, Atieno has on numerous occasions
encountered the ugly manifestation of political hooliganism.
As a teenager, the bubbly youth
witnessed gangs hired by local politicians engage in running
battles that left hundreds injured.
Consequently, Atieno vowed to utilize
her creativity and communication skills to advocate for civility
in political discourse.
“Peace is everyone’s responsibility
and more so the youth who are often hired by aspirants for
political seats to cause mayhem. The country is better off
united than divided as we head to the polls,” said Atieno.