Church's approaches to peacebuilding and reconciliation in ethnic conflict areas in Kenya: a case study of Laikipia West district
Njoroge, Eric Mwangi
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In Kenya, the phenomenon of ethnic- related conflicts seem to be frequent. As such, the Church has a call to understand and make use of her divine mission of building peace and fostering reconciliation in the society. However, one wonders which approaches the Church employs in peacebuilding and reconciliation. Could there be other additional methods of peacebuilding and reconciliation she could explore? Existing research into peacebuilding and reconciliation has shown how ineffective methodology could precipitate occurrence and resurgence of ethnic conflicts. Further ineffective methods of peacebuilding and reconciliation may result from exclusion of people's lifestyles and worldviews such as, rituals and customs and lack of complementarities. This research seeks to first, investigate the cause of ethnic conflicts in Laikipia West District. Second, identifies the peacebuilding and reconciliation processes employed by the church in Laikipia West District. Third, it evaluates African indigenous methods of peacebuilding and reconciliation among communities in Laikipia West District that could be relevant to the Church today. Finally, it suggests more effective strategies that the Church could employ in peacebuilding and reconciliation. The research was guided by a complementary framework which entailed mutual combination of theological/ penitence approach used by the church, symbolic approach based on African indigenous methods and other models of peacebuilding and reconciliation. Data for this study was obtained from primary and secondary sources. The former was both statistical and descriptive while the latter data was descriptive. The primary data were contained in duly filled questionnaires while the secondary data were in notes form. Guided by the objectives and premises of the study, the raw data was arranged according to the major themes. The study established that Laikipia West District has not known sustainable peace for a long time. The main causes of ethnic conflicts include land, poverty, militia gangs, gun culture, political incitement, racism and ethnic animosity. The study's findings indicate that churches in Laikipia West District have been at the forefront in fostering peace using different methods particularly submission, confession, and peace visits. The study established that conflicts recur because of the adoption of ineffective methods of peacebuilding and reconciliation and lack of community involvement. The study also found that complementary approach to peacebuilding and reconciliation is inevitable for long lasting peace. In multiethnic society, all actors should ensure they use a comprehensive approach that appreciates the diversity of cultural world views. After the interpretation and discussion of the data, conclusions were drawn and recommendations for further research given.