Kenya’s handshake experiment to foster peace across the political divide featured prominently at the 2018 Global Peace Conference for East Africa and the Great Lakes region that ended in Uganda over the weekend.
The Conference held at the Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort in Kampala under the theme “New Models for Sustainable Peace and Development” heard how the handshake had positive ripple effect across the world, borne out by the recent Donald Trump/Kim Jong Un handshake in Singapore over the Korean impasse, the handshake in Khartoum between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his arch rival Riek Machar, the recent handshake between Eritrea President Isaias Afeworki and new Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali that had normalized long strained relationship between the two sister countries and the Trump/ Putin handshake at their controversial summit in Helsinki, Finland.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a speech read by Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa that he and opposition leader Raila Odinga found it necessary to reach out to each other to rebuild the Kenyan nation
“It was our own homegrown initiative to midwife peace for our people unlike the situation after the 2007/2008 postelection flare-ups quelled by the international community,” said President Kenyatta.
He said the handshake conveyed Kenya’s resolve that elections should never herald problems for the people.
The peace initiatives that had cooled hostilities between communities at the Kenya/Ethiopia border in Moyale and the Kenya/ Uganda/ South Sudan border were hailed as worth emulating for their phenomenal success.
The three day conference came to a peak with the presentation of the Global Leadership Award 2018 to Uganda President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for being at the forefront of peace efforts in the world.
It was observed during the award presentation by Mr. Robert A. Schuller, of the Global Leadership Council flanked by Dr. Amani Abeid Karume, former President of Zanzibar and Chairman of the African Leadership Mission and the Global Peace Foundation founder Dr Hyun Moon Preston Moon that Uganda was chosen to host this year’s conference because of the country’s regional efforts on peace and security, the resettlement of refugees and the successful track record in the fight against the HIV/AIDS scourge.
President Museveni said lack of peace was caused by conflict between man and nature, conflict between man and man resulting from scarce resources, group chauvinism and weakness of some societies. He noted that the conflict between man and nature is the oldest conflict.
“The oldest conflict is that between man and nature. Its elements include disease, drought, floods, landslides and earthquakes,” he noted.
Mr. Museveni said there was need to develop science to tame nature for the benefit of society. “Development of science is crucial in resolving nature, man conflict. Society is considered civilized when it gains some capacity to tame and harness nature: control disease, floods, and earthquakes and so on. Peace, therefore, is about empowering the human race to gain more knowledge so that the respective societies can tame nature,” said President Museveni.
He told the conference that the second element that causes conflict between man and man is driven by greed and parasitism. He explained that people don't want to live by honest labor as they want to live at the expense of others.
“For man to commit aggression against each other, they use knowledge or science to their advantage like those who accessed iron tools earlier. It's a form of cowardice. You want to kill and fear to be killed. When Europeans used gunpowder as our chiefs were dancing wearing ostrich feathers, they colonized us.
President Museveni further explained the conflict between man and scarce resources calling for better management of the scarce resources. “If resources are scarce, can it be managed in a better way? Did the Europeans have to colonize us in order to get spices? The wars in the Middle East are about oil. It is the same with the DRC. They elected Lumumba, whose death was organized by some people. Congo has never had peace since 1960. The UN is always there,” he observed.
The founder and Chairperson of Global Peace Foundation and author of ‘Korean Dream’, Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon, described Africa as a vibrant continent of many possibilities. He called on African Governments to address the obstacles that undermine prosperity. “Let us create a tsunami starting from Uganda that will spread across the African continent to bring about the African renaissance,” he said.
The conference was also addressed by Burundi First Vice President, Mr. Gaston Sindimwo, Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Augustine Mahiga, and South Sudanese Vice President James Wani Igga who represented their respective Heads of State.