The intense global spotlight that focused on the Kenyan crisis in 2007/8 and the mediation process that followed is a typical example of the high profile peace processes that we so often see in the media. The process that this case study details focuses on another facet which is part of the important work of peacemaking – longer term work with leaders in communities. While many of the foundations of the Nakuru peace process were initiated through the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation process mediated by Kofi Annan, the Nakuru process also demonstrates the need for focused work around reconciliation, which is a long term project for Kenya – far beyond the KNDR agreements.
The work of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) in the Nakuru process highlights the importance of continuing to implement many of the ideals that emerged from the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation process. How organs such as the NCIC, and the processes that they initiated following the 2008 mediation, navigated the new political climate and the longer term impact they have had will be a topic for continuous discussion in Kenya for years to come. When he first came to Kenya, during the establishment of the KNDR process, Kofi Annan was clear that, while ending the violence and addressing the humanitarian consequences of the fighting was critically important, the roots of the conflict stemmed from much deeper issues in Kenya.
The process detailed in this case study attempted to further reconciliation of historical grievances in one specific area. While there were important successes and lessons to be drawn from the Nakuru process, it also highlights that much more needs to be done to reconcile
these historical grievances. The experience of working with the Elders in Nakuru also shows the important links between the ‘traditional’ power brokers (the Elders) and the more ‘modern’ political actors – and how these both must be engaged for sustainable long term peacemaking. Too often there is an artificial distinction between the traditional and modern in peacemaking, while in reality these are closely connected and both
must be engaged for sustainable peace efforts.
The question of how peacemaking efforts collide or collude with, or are impacted by, wider politics is also important. An enduring question for mediators is how to either shield mediation processes from political manipulation, or to develop processes and agreements that are resilient to this manipulation and will help to sustain peace and avoid co-optation.
Ultimately, we hope that the experiences from Nakuru will offer some insights, not only for Kenya but for other contexts where local peacemaking efforts will have a key role in supporting national efforts and fostering longer term sustainable peace.