By Paschal Norbert
KAPEDO, SEPTEMBER 29,2023 (CISA)- Five years after bandits attacked Kapedo Catholic Church in the Catholic Diocese of Lodwar, Turkana East sub-county, killing two police reservists, three Catholic bishops in the bandit-prone areas of the North Rift region united in calling for lasting peace while reconsecrating the Church on September 27, 2023.
Led by Bishop John Mbinda, CSSp, of Lodwar, Bishop Henry Juma Odonya of Kitale and Bishop Cleophas Oseso Tuka of Nakuru, the three bishops together with the faithful, local leaders, religious leaders and government officials under the North Rift Peace Initiative (NRPI) project reaffirmed their commitment to finding a lasting solution to the challenges of peace in the region.
“The time is now to start serious efforts to respond to crises of violence, injustice, cattle rustling, and destruction of properties to reaffirm; ‘the dignity and worth of the human persons’ and ‘equal rights of all men and women, the youth and children,’” said the bishops in their statement after reconsecrating of the Church.
The meeting by the bishops comes three months after the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) launched the NRPI project on June 28 in which they committed to form a united front in creating synergies for peacebuilding processes to address the root causes of conflict that trigger violence among the pastoralist communities in the North Rift region.
“Our hearts and minds go out to those suffering today in our communities with the hope that this meeting will turn out to be and offer a road map to mutual understanding, forgiveness, and dialogue among our people. Therefore, we must re-dedicate ourselves to the vision of mutual partnership among all stakeholders in order to foster peace and human development in our region. We must also prioritize the meaningful inclusion and public participation of all groups including, youths, local communities, and both political and religious leaders is vital to our peace and development efforts,” the bishops said.
“Let us pray and create space for building peace. We all suffer when we have no peace especially the most vulnerable; the women, children, and the aged,” the bishops appealed.
The meeting and prayer at Kapedo was attended by Christians from different denominations and faiths, religious leaders, civic leaders, people from different communities, chiefs, honourable MCAs, officials from the Ministry of Interior and National Administration and NGOs.
The NRPI project initiated by six diocesan Catholic Justice and Peace Departments (CJPDs) covers the Catholic Dioceses of Eldoret, Nyahururu, Nakuru, Kitale, Maralal and Lodwar. The initiative aims to bring together peacebuilding actors in these regions to curb perennial violence and join forces in transforming the underlying conflict drivers.