The State has initiated football tournaments with the main aim of reconciling communities that have been warring on the border of Nakuru and Narok counties.
Nakuru County Commissioner Erastus Mbui Mwenda said sportsmen participating in the soccer competition and team officials were being used as ambassadors to talk to their compatriots and communities on the need to stop engaging in conflict.
The tournament whose theme is ‘shoot to score not to kill’ has attracted at least 15 teams from both devolved units according to the County Commissioner.
For years, Olposimoru area in Narok North sub-County and Mauche Ward within Njoro Sub-County on the border of the two counties has witnessed recurrent skirmishes where more than 100 people have been killed and property valued at millions of shillings destroyed.
The two communities involved in the conflict since 2018 have blamed cattle thefts, land issues and politics for the frequent scuffles.
Mr Mwenda said the event organized by National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior focuses on the power of sport to drive social change, community development and foster peace and understanding.
“Our work isn’t complete until we manage to bring together all the warring factions in our two counties and stop the fighting. I’m sure that one day, this will come to pass. Sporting activities are helping build trust and break the stereotypes existing among them,” said Mbui.
Speaking during a multi sectoral meeting on peace building activities ahead of the August 9 General Election, the administrator urged politicians to emulate sports where there is always a winner and a loser.
“When sportsmen lose, they take it positively well aware that there is a next time. Politicians should do the same. We want to use sports to create awareness because it is one thing that cuts across,” he said
The meeting that brought together the County Security Committee, business community, religious leaders and community based organizations was jointly organized by Midrift Hurinet organisation and Danish Institute Against Violence.
Mwenda called upon the youth not accept to be misused by politicians during the electioneering period adding: “let’s spread a message of peace during this period, and let’s remain united and to continue spreading messages of peace and love because sports does not discriminate against people based on color, race, religion, tribe or place of origin.”
He warned politicians and individuals involved in organized political violence and crimes that their days are numbered.
He assured residents that various security arms of the state were on standby to avert violence witnessed during each electioneering period and the emergence of organized gangs.
The administrator also warned politicians who use the gangs to terrorize their opponents that criminal charges would be pressed against them. “As a government, we are determined to deal with criminal gangs. We will apply pressure on them until they are all decimated,” he said.
He put on notice individuals fueling land and boundary disputes to gain political mileage, and called on Kenyans to be wary of persons making false land allocation promises in order to gain political office
The CC assured Kenyans that the government would not allow the perpetrators of retrogressive politics to succeed.
“Election is a one day affair. Everyone must be allowed to air his opinion without blackmail, threats and violence .The country has to do everything to prevent election-instigated violence. I have tasked local administrators to walk from village to village and spread peace messages. Don’t fight with the police because they are only here to maintain law and order,” he pointed out.
By Jane Ngugi and Dennis Rasto