Peace is an asset a poor country should not risk losing. To be a poor country and a violent country is a double tragedy. Our government cannot already feed its people. To introduce violence in their menu of pain is indescribable betrayal that creates a little hell down here.
When people are already teary out of hunger, to add tear gas into their eyes is grave disservice. To suffer poverty and suffer peacelessness is to die twice. A food shortage and a peace shortage is a tough combination for any people.
Peace is by its nature delicate. Once you have it, tip toe around it. Preserve it with bubble wrap. You just need to ask countries that have not known peace for years and countries that have come through war. They would beg our leaders to carry our country “peace side up!” Stay away from any violence experiments because you never know how far a disruption may go.
A fight begins with one blow. That blow can turn into blood. Blood invites vengeance and the rest is a bad story.
There are many ways to disrupt peace but very few ways of piecing it back together. Once broken, peace can be very punishing to reconstruct and even when it is regained, the pre-cracking perfection will not be restored. There are many peace breakers but very few peace doctors. We are all peace users. To mock peace is folly. Peace is the oxygen of progress. Without it we retrogress, deteriorate, choke and disappear from the map of meaningful countries.
We have a scaring capacity for violence. Evidence is not too far in Kenya’s history. The post-election violence was not a response to an external enemy. We turned against each as a people possessed by evil spirits. We can burn. We can kill. That blood spilling capacity still lingers. All the more why we must remain a praying nation to keep those demons at bay! While demonstrations are a right, we must manage them well so that they remain a voice of light and not give demons a landing. Exorcism is not fun. Successful exorcists are scarce too (and our politicians are not some of them!). We must therefore keep the demonstrations dry of any blood for that is a key way to starve evil of anchoring chances.
There exists enemies of peace - people whose room temperature is chaos. Peace makes them restless. They mock peace lovers not because they find them funny but because deep down they feel threatened by them. Not even Jesus Christ was spared. As the Prince of Peace he has a vision of a world where love is the law. This was too disruptive and wreckers could not imagine a world of peace because it renders them irrelevant! But such should be the ambition of every sober leader – to make violence unnecessary and irrelevant.
Reason would say that a phone call from a president that lasts five minutes can save a country from months of disruption. But pride would say that such a phone call is a sign of weakness. What’s better – to be seen as weak and maintain peace for the people or to be seen as tough and take in tear gas for months as a statement of might? You be the judge.
Peace matters. Peace matters a lot. Our response to threats to our peace must show that peace matters. PLO Lumumba is disturbed by the casual way in which political and spiritual leaders are responding to the scheduled demonstrations by the opposition. His anxiety is valid and is based on past experience. We do not demonstrate that peace matters by sitting back waiting to cock the guns on Monday. We do not demonstrate that peace matters by fueling the masses with the language of assassination. Words are key in making, building and keeping the peace.
The language of chaos for chaos, heat for heat canister for canister is itself violence. There is a great part of peace that has words as its ingredient. Words heal. Words hurt. Words mend. Words mess. We show peace matters by mobilising efforts that separate demonstrations from demon works.
The historical Uhuru-Raila handshake may be judged by some as a terrible mistake but handshaking as a philosophy should not be labeled undesirable and killed. Handshaking facilitates a bipartisan spirit which is essential for any government that is sincere about achieving progress for its people. If the politicians unite in increasing their salaries they can surely unite to dismantle potentially disruptive rallies.
Peaceful people are a great resource that leaders must honour. To run a country as if the peace doesn’t matter is wrong. To treat peaceful people as if they are fools is itself folly. Peaceability is not docility. Peace must be taken as sacred. Peaceful people must be led with the respect due to them. Sound leadership increases the peace status of the people. Authentic peace prioritises consultation and negotiations in moments of difference.
Every time a police officer returns home without having to “work” it is for their family a prayer answered. Families appreciate the sacrificial status of police work but pray that their parent, spouse or sibling does not become a sacrifice. If an army man retires without having fought a war, it is prayer answered for the family. They are fine with their patrols and trainings but are broken by incapacitation and death. Though they know their beloved are trained for war, families do not want them to go to war. War is a mess. Once it breaks out no one knows when it will cease. Even those trained for war do not want it.
As a country, peace is the buffer between us and death. The thinner the buffer the closer we are to disintegration. Wisdom says we must thicken this “ozone” layer no matter what. To roll up our sleeves and put on boxing gloves to prepare for a showdown is not from wisdom. The more you understand the value of peace, the more you go out of your way to guard it.