Deep Within The Scars

By Daniel Muse. Daniel is a student at the University of Eldoret. He lives in Nairobi, Kenya. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

One of our greatest distinction as mankind is our ability to extract information from the past and project it into the future. For this reason, we often think, write and narrate about our past experiences. As part of our narratives, we have a different version of stories that oft unveil the ruined coexistence amongst ourselves. I mean, the kind of stories which always leave us wondering whether this universe has turned into a Warsaw ghetto or its’ inhabitants (ourselves) have turned into heartless beings. The tales which when comprehended sometimes break our hearts and leave us into tears. These are the chronicles that constitute a focal facet of our lives. The stories which Veronica Roth in an opinion that I too agree with would say, “they are worth reading and telling.”

Roth’s words reminds me of a similar version of events that occurred in Kenya back in 2007.The year has since then attained our country’s historical recognition. This is not because Kenya banked another gold medal at the Olympics as many could anticipate but instead incurred the most conflicted election in her post colonial era. During this time, the entire democratic process turned into a row due to alleged malpractices.Instead of exercising our political rights and celebrating the victory, we turned into man-eaters and claimed each others’ lives based on political differences.

The post election dispute successfully divided the whole state into two warring parties. These sentiments were purely ethnic, based on the presidential candidate each tribe supported. During this mayhem that lasted for two months, the country was filled with inhumane acts. As a result, over 1,000 innocent Kenyans lost their lives while more than 600,000 were evicted and displaced from their residences. Unfortunately, some of those entrusted with power at the moment became our misleaders and allegedly financed the riots. In the same dimension, we can not fail to recount the reports by Human Rights Watch groups, which clearly indicated that the Kenyan police had used excessive force in curbing the situation leading to further death tolls.

On 28th February 2008, the conflict was brought to a standstill after a series of negotiations between the two presidential candidates. This agreement was a fruit of the endless discussions aimed at finding a solution and was led by a United Nations’ peace finding envoy under the stewardship of Kofi Anan, the organization’s Secretary General at the moment. The treaty therefore secured a satisfactory power sharing deal between the two sides. As a result, the country’s peace was reinstated ending a havoc that had cost us the country’s national cohesion.

This story is a typical example of a conflict narrative. It features a political dispute between: an electoral body, the candidates in concern and the voters. The electoral body in this case believed in having delivered a credible election. Mark you, their opinion was supported by the party and voters whose candidate had been declared victorious. On the other extreme, the conflict had the uncontended voters and the presidential candidate who obviously viewed the results as being manipulated. For us to make an alignment in regard to Veronica’s opinion, we need to therefore evaluate whether this story is worth telling or reading.

Despite this story being like a scar that reminds Kenyans of the pain caused by a previous wound, the tale has since then remained inevitably worth telling. This is because deep within the scars there are many lessons we have been able to learn from the conflict. One of these lessons was the effect of ethnic profiling to our national cohesion. From our past experience it is clear that the division on tribal basis acted as a great blow to our national integration. The loss of lives and the internal displacement of our countrymen was also enough to teach us why armed confrontation is the worst method of solving our differences.

The war also presented to us a different picture of those who were thought to be our leaders. Instead of preaching peace; some of them incited us against each other and as the Kenyans maimed one another to please them, they were observed parting together at lucrative places. Surprisingly, some of our leaders were even forefront in funding militia groups to act as mercenaries against some ethnic targets. This story has therefore been told at every election period to remind Kenyans of the adverse effects of: tribalism and incitement to peaceful elections.

To the government, this election was able to illuminate a true picture of the citizens. The whole reaction clearly proved the meaning of democracy as earlier on pointed by Abraham Lincoln to be, “the government of the people, by the people, for the people”. In this case the unrest caused by masses was enough to show the response that may accrue from voters when they have a feeling of being robbed off their democratic freedom. The Kenyan Civilians were able to clearly communicate their exhaustion as a result of seeing their democracy robbed off in favour of the atrocities and the incumbents.

To other nations and generations to come, this story clearly befits reading. The value of this story is therefore underpinned in the identifiable mistakes and the peaceful conflict solving trends. For instance, this story may be used as a critical point of reference for any democratic state during elections. The mistakes identifiable e.g. violence approach, incitements and lack of transparency may be avoided while successful conflict solving trends such as mediation potentially applied whenever a similar calamity resurfaces anywhere in the world.

Since 2007, Kenya has incurred two general elections and one referendum. Through these, we have been able to see how the citizens and government were able to embrace some of the lessons leant from the past mistakes. It is true that not all Kenyans had total satisfaction with the results but the voters and politicians showed some recommendable level of maturity in solving these disputes. I say this because the use of tribunals as opposed to violence methods has been evident by the complainants in all the two general elections. To Kenya the past conflict lessons have therefore acted as our reference point whenever a similar tragedy approaches.

Just as the Kenyan story, all conflict stories in the history of mankind have similar roles. First, to enlighten us about the potential roots of disagreements and their possible prevention measures. Secondly, they show us the disastrous effects of an accumulated dispute and suggest amicable solutions at an earlier stage. We also read these stories to learn about others’ past mistakes and avoid repetition of the errors leading to the predicaments.

Conflicts also remind us of our greatest achievement as mankind, which is making our world a better place than it was before. This desire therefore makes us directly or indirectly involved in others’ suffering by our virtue of being human. As a result we are often interested in telling and reading about the social, political and economic injustices to provide opinions which may be used to tame the unjust acts or possibly empower the victims of the injustices. The empowerment in this case may entail mental or material support.

Assuming this world was perfect, maybe a paradise. A place where we all had a mutual understanding of each other and treated our fellow men with total love and care. A world where: “thieves”, murderers, male chauvinists, racists, morons, aristocrats and despots never existed. Then, I have no doubt that this world would be free of conflict as Roth implies using her words “if there was no conflict”. In that case, what would have been the essence of telling and reading stories with an aim of making this world a better place if it could have already been perfect?

Unfortunately, we are currently living in a “deformed world” where peaceful existence has never been wholesomely achieved due to our ideological differences. For this reason, I agree with Veronica when she says, “If there was no conflict, there would be no story worth reading or -telling.” This is due to the fact that, we are often telling about these conflicts to inform the world of mistakes made in solving misunderstandings and the successful conflict solving trends that can help solve our differences without escalating human sufferings.

79 comments on “Deep Within The Scars

  1. Olwendo Hillary Omondi on

    This is true story and even gives a clear picture of what is taking place in many countries not only Kenya. Fantastic and may the work of your hand reach many to realise the sense of peace and it’s benefit to the development of ones nation.

  2. Joseph Murithi Kaberia on

    Wow!!!A nice article..We should endavor towards making our world a better place through right means of solving conflict.

  3. Pauline muse on

    Very true, “armed confrontation is the worst method of solving differences”, it has always been and it will always be, a very nice piece i really echo your sentiments how I wish everyone gets this information it will help change people’s mindset.

    • Moses Chumba on

      A good essay. During the post election violence Kenyan truly turned into world Animals.I remember how a group of believers were burnt in a church by people who had no humane feelings . What suprised me is realizing that all these brutal acts were being motivated by our politicians who proved to be heartless.Kenyans have a reason to learn from this events

  4. Cate on

    Really insightful piece. We need to endeavor in learning from past conflict lesson all over the world to avoid repetition of same mistakes . We don’t have to make the same errors when we know their implications. At least a change can be made in handling issues so that we don’t become victims of circumstances every now and then.

  5. Erick Oholo on

    True. Infact its painful to realize that someof the victims of the post election violence are still suffering in the IDP camps Yet the government has done nothing for them.

  6. Upton Sasu on

    uoe team power ,wanted to write but phew you guys mmemaliza acha yngu ibaki kwa folder 😂😂,Big up Daniel,real life story men

  7. Jael on

    Learning from our past mistakes is the best way to improve on our weakness. We therefore have to embrace change by learning from these mistakes

  8. Steven Odhiambo on

    Its true that we have many ideological differences. For this reason we will oftenly differ with each other but this should not mean ruined coexsistence forever. We need to learn from this mistakes that make us disaagree and try handling them in the right way. We don’t have to continue killing each other whenever a conflict arises but come up with better means of solving our differences.

  9. Sedrick on

    Well written piece. We often have solutions for our problems .The problem is we rarely learn from our points of error. The issues we struggle with have been well handled by others and if we can be willing to learn from others past mistakes we can really make a change.

  10. Joseph Muchina on

    Absolutely 💯. The story and conflict are not absolute terms but the relative terms. It’s through these story telling that we are able to proactively address the problematics as they occur. Simply learning from our past for the betterment of tomorrow. Regards.

  11. Diphas juma on

    Its true that it pains seeing people vote while the results are manipulated but even with such feelings there is need for peaceful résolution. Use of tribunals is one of the means that allow people solve differences amicably.Its true that there is need to learn from past mistakes.

  12. Lewis Nyangwe on

    Its true that we have ability to reflect on the past events which may be failures and make sober decisions in our lives . This is essential to make remarkable progress towards a better society

  13. Fridah Opudo on

    It is really educative and it really captured my attention in that it reminded me of the bad acts done by different individuals being incited by our own political leaders who claim to lead us and I swear it was the most painful part of life and the good thing is that you have now opened our eyes through this article,,,, it’s a good one brother!

    • Elizabeth masiga on

      Nice job, it’s really inspiring not only to our country Kenya or other countries besides motherland but also for persons at individual level to learn from the past mistakes to improve or change our strategies in future encounters.

  14. John Munjuga on

    Any failure should be utilized to learn and make change.The same way a conflict encounter can be turned into a learning experience to find amicable ways of solving disputes without escalating human suffering.

  15. Lina Magdaline on

    A good piece of writing. I agree on you view that some of the conflict stories are just like scars. These scars remind people of past injustices done to them but if we look keenly interested in them we can learn how to approach circumstances in a better manner.

  16. Cornelius Kipleting on

    I like the perception on the role of conflict as a point of reconstructing ourselves based on our weaknesses in order to make our relationships better than it was before.

  17. Cynthia Anne on

    A good conceptual analysis of past experience. The post election violence will always remain at the back of our minds . Its a true picture of our intolerance towards each other yet full of lessons.

  18. Sang Kimutai on

    We need to look behind and see what caused a conflict and learn how to avoid the causing agents and progress to changing the approach on dissagrements.

  19. Charity Jep on

    Conflict stories communicate the inner feelings of people towards how they are treated. I agree the the perception of the Post election violence as a clear communication by the kenyan voters on their exhaustion as a result of poor democratic system which appeared to favor some groups of the people. Its really painful to realize that even in the 21st century , aristocracy still dominates in some societal setting. This system of leadership normally reserves politically position to some few individuals and denies eligible people an opportunity to lead.

  20. Kiplangat Shiro on

    “We are currently living in a deformed world”. I agree with this point of thought since we are very different from each other . For this reason , its not always certain that we shall be in agreement to what others view to be right . That itself makes conflict a daily experience . However we need to solve issues amicably to avoid unnecessary hurting of our fellow men.

  21. Arosey on

    It’s a good article worth reading.. Conflict being double aged one is able realize its positive and negative effects of conflict. Good work man..

  22. Muse Bnfc on

    A message clearly expressed. Yes, a conflict can perfectly serve as an eternal generator of multiple lessons deserving endless telling, reading and writing about. The article indisputably confirms.

  23. Mary on

    I agree that human beings are the only beings with ability extract information from the past and project it into the future. By that virtue , we can easily learn from our past conflict stories for betterment of the future.

  24. Rachel on

    Its true that we are living in an imperfect world . We shall always strife to obtain peace. However, the methods of solving our differences whenever they emanate must not necessarily cause suffering to our counterparts . We need to learn on peaceful conflict solving trends as the writer suggests .

  25. Nancy Jepkosgei on

    I really enjoyed reading your interrelationship between conflicts and stories . The article also gives numerous examples on why conflict stories are relevance for us.

  26. Limo Fresha on

    The post election violence is a good example of the conflicts that turned out into great lesson. This is not only to Kenyans but can be used by other democratic states just as the article suggests.

  27. Elias on

    A really impressive article . ” assuming this world was perfect, what would be the essence of telling and reading stories with an aim of making this world a better place?” My answer to your question is , there would be not essential to tell a perfect world of conflict stories to help people learn. For instance, the Kenyan story would not mean anything to anyone if all nations of this world :were thriving in democracy, free of tribalism and the leaders never had the behavior of inciting their own people against each other. I concur with you Daniel.

  28. Denno on

    It’s really good to have the ability to percieve conflict from this broad view. We are often wrong when we only view conflicts as disasters. Instead we need to rethink about them and learn from the lessons which they potray to us.


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