COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Peace for All, Kenyans for Peace THIKA, KENYA - Saturday, 9th February 2013 was a very important day for the Scouting fraternity in Kiambu County. The Rover Scouts of Mount Kenya University organized a Messengers of Peace event dubbed “Youth for Peace Forum”. The activity brought together other Scouts from different universities and colleges in Thika and beyond under the theme “Peace for All, Kenyans for Peace”. It was also attended by university staff, members of the public, high school students and graced by Dr. Edwin Aketch of Global Peace Foundation, Mr. Samuel Guthua of Peace Ambassadors Kenya, Mr. Albanus Mwololo of Universal Peace Federation Somalia and Mr. Eric Wanjohi from the International Strategy Centre. The National Youth Representatives Nelson Opany and Grace Michuki, were also present to represent the Kenya Scouts Head office and Messengers of Peace Network in Kenya. The chief guest was Prof. Mbula Bahemuka from the University of Nairobi. Other partners that supported the event include Brand Kenya Board, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Picha MtaaniHeal the Nation Initiative, National Cohesion and Integration Commission and the Kenya Forests Service. With the General Elections due on 4th March, every speaker emphasized the importance of maintaining peace and the critical role that young people have to play in ensuring that Kenyans live in peace before, during and after the electioneering period. Nelson took time to explain to the gathering the Messengers of Peace concept and the position and contribution of Scouting in the work of peace. He urged every Kenyan to do whatever is within their power to preach peace wherever they live. “The achievement of national peace requires the efforts of every one of us. Peace is a personal as well as collective responsibility and each one has a role to play. As we go to cast our votes on March 4th - for those of us registered as voters; let us love one another, respect one another and vote wisely for those leaders who will offer selfless service to the people and promote peace - and not divide Kenyans along ethnic lines. Even as we do that, let us not forget our unending call to become Messengers of Peace. Lets us shun violence and work together to promote a more unified nation free from tribalism; a nation where each of us can live freely and happily.” he said. Mr. Guthua said that there was need to inter-relate peace activities with other areas such as health, food security, environment and education. He further noted that there is no way to peace, but peace is the way. Dr. Aketch talked about interfaith action, family unit and the society as critical pillars for the realization of peace. He also identified five fundamental principles for the practice of peace. These included; we belong to the same creator, we all are moral in nature, the family is a school of love and foundation for peace, breaking the barriers of tribe and religion and the Head-Heart-Hand cycle. The Chief Guest, Prof. Mbula emphasized on the role of young people in attainment of lasting peace. She encouraged the youth to give peace a fresh start by embracing a culture that values and sustains peace founded on mutual social responsibility, accountability and reciprocity - being there for one another. “Your name as a young person is Now and Today, not Tomorrow or the Future.
You must develop a strong character that says no to violence and use your strength and intelligence for the good of the nation. You must be men and women of goodwill”, she said.Apart from the speeches and talks given by the guests, the participants also made presentations enhancing the theme of the event. These included poetry, songs, dances and games. Those who excelled received various awards such as umbrellas from the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, Messengers of Peace badges, ribbons and scarves among others. The event ended with the planting of commemorative peace trees by all guest present.
Memorable quote “As the Scout movement, peace has always been and will continue to form an integral part of our programmes. We are very conscious in empowering young people to play a constructive role in society with the vision of creating a better world; through a culture of peace.” Mr. Nelson Opany, Kenya Scouts National Youth Representative, at the Youth for Peace Forum at Mt. Kenya University main campus in Thika, February 2013.
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