Following is an appeal for calm that I wrote as Vice President of the Friends of Kenya. It is also posted on the FOK web site (www.friendsofkenya.org).
Statement of Concern
The board of Friends of Kenya and, as we well know, many members of our organization have followed events in Kenya over the past month with a great sense of sadness, concern and apprehension. We send our condolences to the families who have lost loved ones and our pole to those who have been displaced. We hope that peace will be restored soon in Kenya
As a non-political organization, FOK has always refrained from expressing political views. We will continue to adhere to that policy and thus cannot support either President Kibaki or challenger Odinga.
However, we can and do take a stand in support of the Kenyan people. We support all Kenyan people at this time of crisis. We abhor ethnic enmity and tribal violence. We adamantly stand for truth and justice and call for the cessation of the senseless hostility that divides Kenyans from each other. We endorse the efforts of UN and African mediators to craft, along with Kenyan leaders from both sides, resolution to the crisis.
The toll in Kenya in lives, homes, jobs and prospects is already much too high. We deplore the destruction of neighborhoods and especially of the social comity that enabled Kenyans to mix together without rancor in pursuit of national development. It should be of highest priority to regain that lost ground, that togetherness, that sense of nationhood, that sense of being Kenyan. Success in pursuit of this goal will require a workable political settlement between the warring factions which is something that only they can author. The world insists that they achieve this. But beyond that Kenyans themselves will have to set aside suspicions and fears. Each person will have to take the brave steps to instill peace and forgiveness in his or her heart and to extend that peace to fellow citizens.
Friends of Kenya as an organization composed of individuals who harbor a great respect for Kenya want Kenyans to know of our concern for them and their nation at this time of crisis. We pray for peace and for reconciliation so that the nation that we all love so fondly might regain the vibrancy and the tolerance that served so well for generations.