THE IMPACT OF NON-VIOLENCE PHILOSOPHY TO THE WORLD TODAY

Distinguished Guests, Ladies, and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to be part of this historic 13th International Day of Non-Violence. As we are all aware, this day was created by the United Nations in 2007 to honor and celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s work and legacy. Non-violence impact has been felt globally decades after the creator of the notion (Mahatma Gandhi) used it to help India attain self-rule on 15th August 1947. As we celebrate Gandhi’s birthday (Yesterday 2nd October), this event gives us a unique opportunity as leaders to look back and reflect on the strides we have made for the last decades in promotion of peace, and democracy drawing lessons from the Non-violence philosophy.

As we celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s life, we cannot overlook his inspirational quotes which were not only used in mobilizing Indians to fight for their independence, but have also played an essential role in promoting his ideology. With regard to this event I quote one of the Gandhi’s powerful quotes, which reads:

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”

Gandhi’s commitment to India’s Independence and the methods he advocated for is the primary reason why we are celebrating his life today.

Indeed, Mahatma Gandhi was a leader cut out from another mold, who successfully mobilized Indians to use passive resistance as the primary tool to fight for self-rule driven by the belief in non-violence as the ideal journey towards attainment of world peace. It should be noted that the Non-violence philosophy gained momentum and inspired the rise of civil and human rights initiatives all over the world. For example, in the United States of America Martin Lurther King Jnr. used the non-violence approach to successfully agitate for the civil rights moment. Similarly, in South Africa Nelson Mandela also used the same approach to fight the apartheid regime.

History has documented powerful leaders who believed in violence in solving political differences a good example can be drawn from Adolph Hitler, the Nazi Party leader, who is among the most monstrous and terrifying leaders in the Twentieth Century.  Hitler led Germany into a disastrous war and triggered the extermination of millions of his own citizens due to his anti-Semitic ideology. Benito Mussolini is also another example of a supreme leader who fell due to his belief in violence.

 The Impact of Non-Violence Philosophy

In recent times we have witnessed global leaders take bold steps in trying to solve their differences and disagreements. For Instance, US President Donald Trump meeting with Northern Korea leader Kim Jong Un in 2018, was a significant non -violence gesture.  I have no doubts in my mind that the meeting between the two leaders calmed down the nuclear war tensions between the United States of America and Northern Korea, hence at least for now, the world is experiencing some relative calm away from the political tensions that existed between the two nations.

Here in Kenya, we have experienced the consequences of both using violence and non-violence means to attain power, and I believe that as a country we have learned our lessons, and chosen to stick to the non-violence path in resolving our differences. In 2007/2008 post-election clashes for instance, this country was dragged into a dark hole that led to painful deaths, and the displacement of thousands of innocent citizens. Realizing the deep mess we were in as a country at the time, I made a conscious decision to join hands with the then President Mwai Kibaki and Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga to form a coalition government that calmed down the political heat across the country. We vowed never again shall another Kenyan shed blood because of our political differences. As a result, we delivered a new progressive constitution in 2010, which I believe has set a solid mechanism of not only resolving disputes harmoniously but also provided a good spring board for economic take off. For instance, devolution and bill of rights that are entrenched in the constitution, has set the pace in the promotion of social justice and a promise for equitable distribution of the national cake.

Drawing from 2007/2008 example, I am happy to report that as a country, we are in the right direction. We have been a good example to our neighbors and the world. And as a country, I think we have adopted different non-violence mechanism of solving both national and international differences. Yes, we have not succeeded 100% but we have encouraging signs.  For example our judiciary in 2013, when the Cord coalition went to Supreme Court to protest the electoral irregularities, in that general election. Though the court ruled against the application, the CORD leadership accepted the outcome. Again in 2017 general election the Supreme Court made a landmark ruling that nullified the presidential elections that in fact, made it  the fourth court in the world to invalidate a presidential election after Ukraine, Maldives, and Austria. You all know that the NASA coalition pulled out of the subsequent the repeat election on 26th October 2017 ordered by the court. This, plunged the country into a crisis that divided into two. Driven my strong belief in the non-violence spirit of solving conflicts, you can recall that I consistently called upon President Uhuru Kenyatta to call for truce and embrace dialogue to restore peace in the country.

I want to believe that my calls for dialogue bore fruits on 9th March 2018 when President Uhuru Kenyatta and NASA Coalition Presidential candidate Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga met at Harambee house (for the famous Handshake) and agreed to work together in uniting the country. This resulted to the formation of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) – a Task Force mandated to find out the reasons why Kenyans always fight and come up with recommendations on how the issues can be solved permanently. It is for this reason that I fully support the Task Force as I believe that as a country we have come of age, and we should have a gentleman’s conversation about our future. We are the solution to our problems and I hope BBI which currently finalizing its report, will come up with concrete recommendations that will offer long lasting solutions to our problems as a country.

As Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya, we believe that as a country we need to have discussion within ourselves and come up with a non-contested referendum. In that spirit I urge all leaders pushing for a constitutional change, to engage, and agree to advocate for the same cause. We should not allow, political intrigues to divide our country, because of individual interests.

As you know also, early this year, H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed me as a Special Envoy to South Sudan to spearhead the implementation of the revitalized agreement on conflict resolution in South Sudan. As a proud believer of the non-violence philosophy as espoused by Mahatma Gandhi, I am delighted to report that we have had, useful consultations with the main protagonists in the crisis and soon South Sudan leadership led by President Salva Kiir and the Opposition Leader Riek Machar will be forming a transitional government. It is my hope that this peace deal will ensure political stability and offer long term solutions to the challenges facing the new African country.

 The Space of African Diplomacy as a Non-Violence Tool in Africa 

In my public life, I have had the privilege to represent the Government in high-ranking diplomacy missions and that have convinced me that non-violence mechanisms are the best in solving any dispute. That’s why I commend H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta for his numerous efforts in strengthening diplomatic ties such as the East African Community, IGAD, COMESA and other reginal and global bodies.

But one of our immediate diplomatic concerns is the maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia which is a threat to the brotherhood the two countries have enjoyed for many years. I applaud President Uhuru Kenyatta for taking a bold step to meet Somali president Farmaajo during the 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York last month, in an effort to find an amicable solution in the ongoing maritime dispute. Yes, the International Court of Justice will in due course give a judicial verdict but I am afraid whatever the ruling it  could negatively affect our relationship with Somalia. I therefore believe that Kenya and Somalia can have a dialogue and resolve their issues without dragging the innocent citizens in the dispute. In the spirit of International Day of Non-violence, I today urge President Uhuru Kenyatta and Farmaajo, to put the interest of the two countries and its people first and look for a harmonious solution. We have been fighting a common enemy in Somalia, in the name of Al-Shabaab, and we can’t at this time afford to fight each other.

I also take this opportunity to condemn the xenophobic attacks witnessed in South Africa early last month in the strongest terms possible. It’s unfortunate that at this age as Africans we still hate each other, instead of embracing our unity as a continent.  I call upon the African Union to rise up and find an amicable solution to all issues affecting our continental peace, ranging from terrorism, political instabilities and the xenophobic attacks. As we celebrate the International day of Non-violence, I feel disturbed that in 2019, some countries are still experiencing unrests when Gandhi’s Non-Violence philosophy is a magic bullet in resolving all our contemporary differences. It’s all our wish to stay in a peaceful world, free from conflicts, terrorism scare, racism and corrupt free.

  Conclusion 

In conclusion, I want to say that the Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya, which am proud to lead, believes in social democracy, peace, equality, and all social values that draw inspiration from the non-violence philosophy in solving contemporary disagreements. Indeed over the years in public service, I have provided the country with an alternative leadership driven and inspired by Gandhi’s philosophy.  I believe that as a people, we can fight for our rights, and push for our agendas harmoniously. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for.” And that’s what I believe, and that’s what Wiper Democratic Movement Kenya has been advocating for. Non-violence is the right path to justice. Kenya has made tremendous strides, in the democratic space as well as in advocating for peaceful co-existence. We have taken bold steps to save our neighbors, and we are still advocating for the use of non-violence methods in resolving our differences.

God Bless Kenya! Long Live Mahatma Gandhi’s Spirit!!

H.E. HON. DR. STEPHEN KALONZO MUSYOKA,

KENYA’S SPECIAL ENVOY TO SOUTH SUDAN,

VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA (2008 – 2013)

AND LEADER, WIPER DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT – KENYA

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