•On Tuesday, leaders from the 11 slums congregated at Katwekera village of the slum for prayers and celebrations that residents of Kibera maintained the desired peace.
•This, observers say, was instrumental in thwarting election-related violence.
Looking at the calm that has prevailed in the country's key perennial election-related violence hotspots after the announcement of poll results, one could tell that the residents of Kibera have come of age.
This, however, did not come easy.
While Kenyans were urged in various campaigns to maintain peace before and after elections, a peace initiative started at the onset of the August 9 election campaigns in Kibera.
The initiative has been lauded as a major contributor to the calmness witnessed after the declaration of results.
The slum urban network program, an initiative of Shining Hope For Communities (SHOFCO), mounted peace activities before and after the polls in 11 informal settlements in the city.
This, observers say, was instrumental in thwarting election-related violence.
On Tuesday, leaders from the 11 slums congregated at Katwekera village of the slum for prayers and celebrations that residents of Kibera maintained the desired peace.
"Our message was simple; your neighbour is your brother and sister. If you have any problem, they are the ones who respond first," Shining Hope For Communities (SHOFCO) Urban Network, chairperson Risper Awino said, noting the network engaged in door-to-door peace meetings before and after the election period.
"Let’s love our neighbours as it has been, and elections should not divide us. We told Kibera residents that there are no tribes in the slums, the only tribe we know is Kenya and that we should be vigilant not to be used by politicians to disrupt the peace."
She said during the event at Shofco offices that the residents unanimously agreed that it's their businesses that will be destroyed if violence erupted.
"By now we could be counting dozens of our people dead. We are glad the call to peace was heeded," she said.
Speaking during a press conference, SHOFCO Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kennedy Odede lauded the residents for maintaining peace during the electioneering period.
"I am impressed by the calm atmosphere in Kibera after the general election," he said.
The slums are prone to election-related violence with Kibera and Mathare bearing the heaviest brunt during the 2007, 2013 and 2017 polls but the community leaders vowed not to go back to those dark days this year.
SHOFCO boasts of over two million members through its (SUN) program and it is through this wide network that the community leaders ensured there was no chaos in the slums as well as the rural areas.
“I am excited for the peace community leaders brought in in slum areas. I saw Kalenjins, Luos, Nubians and Kikuyus coming together to preach peace during the campaign and election period which is incredible for me,” Odede said.
SUN engaged in a peace mission for almost one year traversing insecurity hotspots in almost every part of the country.
For instance, Odede visited 11 counties in the last month of the campaign period to spearhead peace talks.
The counties included Nyeri, Kisumu, Siaya, Nakuru, Kakamega, Kisii, Uasin Gishu, Kilifi, Mombasa, Nairobi, and Bungoma.
“We organised football tournaments across the country’s informal settlements to sensitise the young people - who are usually prone to political handouts - on the dangers of violence, and what they stood to lose if the country plunged into chaos," he explained.
The SUN members ensured weekly meetings with various community members while the youth were also engaged in drama and poems aimed at preaching peace in the slums and rural areas, it was revealed.
"SHOFCO’s SUN program is aimed at uplifting the lives of the vulnerable members of the society from the bottom of the pyramid," Odede said.
Over the years, SUN has worked closely with the slum population in bringing change to the community through the provision of critical services such as education, health, counselling and food distribution, while assisting the local administration in issues such as addressing Gender-Based Violence (GBV), Nyumba Kumi Initiative, National Census and Covid-19 pandemic.
“During Covid time, we were already planning because for us peace is about the process. It is about appreciating what we have in the community because most of us were born in these areas. As we move forward, we need to listen to the voice of the community leaders they have proven that they can bring peace,” he revealed.
What set the slum community apart from the rest of the country, however, is that they engaged various aspirants during the SHOFCO-organised countrywide voters versus aspirants debates where residents interrogated the candidates on what they intend to do to eliminate chaos during the electioneering period.
“SHOFCO is non-political but we helped to bring together community members and the candidates to engage in debates so that the electorate could make informed choices," he stated.
Other community leaders who expressed the slum cohesion and unity as never seen before included village elders from four zones; Francis Namai, Mary Indoshi and Caleb Odhiambo.