A few months ago, I received a call from a friend in Minnesota telling me there is a good friend of his running for governor of Nakuru visiting the US he thought I should meet and have a chat with him when he came to Washington a few days later.
My friend actually had us talk to his friend on the phone on that same call and his friend and I agreed to meet when he came to Washington, which we did.
I recorded part of my discussion with the gentleman on my i-Phone and took some notes on it as well with the intention as I promised him to pen a blog about him.
I have unfortunately since lost the phone (more accurately left it aboard a flight I was on) and time has flown by to pen the blog even though I have been thinking about it.
While I still intend to pen the blog and convey what the Reverend told me that I thought was very refreshing for a politician or more accurately a politician to be, if I recover the phone or after talking to him again, I thought I in the meantime share the following interview the good Rev gave to Ajabu Africa News, which more or less covers the same range of issues we discussed.
By Harrison Maina, Ajabu Africa News, Posted September 22 , 2012
LOWELL, Mass.,_The Rev. Lawrence Bomet, one of the commissioners in Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has resigned from the government to vie for the post of governor in Nakuru County with a view to provide full restitution and resettlement of all Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) caused by the disputed 2007 general elections.
In an exclusive interview with Ajabu Africa, the commissioner, who is also an ordained pastor who lived in the USA for four years said he has one major mission in mind: to resettle all IDPs in Nakuru and provide compensation to all who lost their property as a foundation to bring back peace and harmony among the many tribes that reside in the county full of tribal animosity.
“There is no way we can have peace, cohesion and integration when people are still living in other people’s land and milking other people’s cows,” declared Bomet during the interview held at the Ajabu Media offices in Lowell, Mass..
Bomet, said that the 3 years he served as a commissioner in the NCIC, a government appointed commission charged with the perilous duty of digging into the causes of the 2007 tribal clashes and recommend solutions to bring healing among different warring tribes has taught him invaluable lessons.
Bomet wants wants to use the experience at the NCIC is he becomes a governor to heal deep wounds existing in Nakuru county especially between the Kikuyus and the Kalenjins.
To conformto the requirement that all government employees who want to vie for electroral posts in the upcoming general elections resign by a given date, Bomet therefore decided to resign immediately after winding up a tour to the US where the NCIS commissioners held meetings with various Kenyan communities in different states.
His resignation came at a time when event the tenure of the NCIS commission itself came to an end in August 2012 and has yet to be renewed.
The commission, led by Chairman Dr. Mzalendo Kibunjia had 9 commissioners in total whose fate is now in limbo as they await word from the Kenya government on whether their term will be extended.
A 10th commissioner, Mary Anyango, who was the vice chairlady, passed away earlier this year and had not yet been replaced.
During the interview, Bomet said that the 2007 mayhem that left about 1,300 Kenyans dead, hundreds of thousands displaced and millions of Kenya shillings in lost property was very unfortunate and pained him to the core of his heart.
He said that as a Kalenjin clergyman from Eldama Ravine, he had personally witnessed very cordial and respectable co-existence between the Kikuyus and Kalenjins in Rift valley Province for many years until the politics of multiparty system started.
“Some of my best friends were Kikuyu’s who came to my aid when I was in dire need. We lived very cordially and infact we were friends all round. There was a lot of inter-marriages between Kalenjins and Kikuyus and business was going on very well,” said Bomet.
“But when the era of multiparty politics came, politicians and other people with hidden motives started fanning tribal animosity every election cycle for years until it culminated into the 2007 mayhem.At the heart of the animosity is the distribution of resources.This is very unfortunate and very wrong,” he added.
He stressed that a multi-party system is the right system for democracy in Kenya but it needed to be exercised in an environment of respect and tolerance for the views of people with differing opinions.
He said that democratic elections should entail fairness, accountability and integrity with the power of the vote being the ultimate tool to settle differences.
Bomet blamed a poor structure of handling elections in Kenya, poor leadership that failed to contain the violence when it erupted and a heavily tribal attitude by many Kenyans as the main caused of the violence.
“This is why I want to be elected as governor for Nakuru.I will provide good leadership and put structures in place such that we will never see such a thing reoccur in Nakuru County again. Right now, Nakuru stands at the cross roads of either right of left. If we turn the right way, there will be a lot of healing, reconciliation, integration and economic boom as Nakuru is ready for take off.
“However, if we turn the wrong way, there will be more bloodshed and destruction and heartache. There is still a lot of simmering tribal undertones and you can feel it everywhere,” he added.
He said that even today, 4 years after the violence erupted, some people who were forced out of their homes don’t feel safe to go back even after intensive meetings between the communities to bridge the differences.
He said that some who have been resettled in other areas that were originally not their homes have ended up being kicked out again since the local communities they found were not adequately prepared and counseled into receiving new strangers.
However, Bomet said that he was hopeful that a lasting solution can be achieved through the structures they have put up that consists of village elders, local chiefs and other people of integrity.
He said that he will use these structures in the absence of title deeds that may have not survived the fires to help identify genuine IDPs and those who lost property from imposters some of whom were squatters from the forest who nonetheless claim to be IDPs.
“In Burnt Forest, I have sat down with elders of the Kikuyu and Kelenjin tribes. Some people have testified that they have been given back their property and that people want to live in peace. Restitution if ongoing as we speak,” he told Ajabu Africa.
The commissioner, who have lived in the Diaspora for four years before returning back to the motherland said that the exposure that he has gained from living in the USA and several other countries in the world, as well as the job of a commissioner in the NCIS have prepared him for the job of the governor and he was confident that he could bring long lasting peace and harmony in Nakuru.
Bomet said he worked all sorts of menial jobs such as a security guard and a truck driver in the USA before relocating back to Kenya so he understands the bigger goals of a well functioning community as opposed to many leaders in Kenya who still have a local mentality of dividing people.
He stressed that based on this exposure and experience, he has respect for all men of all tribes and backgrounds as created by God and therefore would not be inclined to favor his tribal kinsmen in the resettlement and restitution process.
“As governor, i will not tolerate any one who will try to sway me from from providing justice and restitution where it is valid, whether to a Kalenjin or Kikuyu.All tribes were affected by this thing. If anyone even from my own tribe tries to force me to do otherwise, i will let the full process of the law of the land to prevail.We have to live together as brothers and sisters again,” he told Ajabu Africa.
He added that the same problems that exist in Nakuru exist in other areas of Kenya especially in Lamu and Tana River where recent tribal clashes erupted before the government moved in to restore peace.
“The government should have moved faster than they did to bring back peace in Tana River. But I am happy they finally did and things are returning to normal there.”
He asked Kenyans in the Diaspora to call their friends and family back home and ask them to vote for him and tell their friends to do the same as a way of helping bring back harmony among different tribes in Nakuru where everyone will feel that they were never cheated or were compensated for everything.
“Do whatever you can include using social media to bring change in every county for a better Kenya. Tell people to vote for me since I know the Diaspora will determine the outcome of the upcoming general elections,” urged the commissioner.
Nakuru is a vast country that includes Molo, Njoro, Eldama Ravine, and Naivasha among other areas where tribal clashes between Kikuyus, Kalenjins, Luos, Kisiis and other tribes clashed after the disputed general elections.
Asked where the funds to provide restitution and resettlement of all the IDPs in Nakuru would come from, Bomet said that this was very easy if there if the right people doing it and the will power.
“There is money in the CDF fund, the central government has money and Nakuru County has a lot of money. This is very achievable,” he reassured during the interview with Harrison Maina, publisher of AjabuAfrica.com.
In Part II of this blog, I’ll examine the Reverend’s qualities as compared to those others vying for the same position and this is actually all is missing in this interview from my own chat with him.