by Moses Sichei Sakong, with Martha Okumu
Peace Tree Network
During my childhood, I had never experienced violent conflict, but by 2004, there were warning signs of the coming violence. The Ndorobo people, who were our neighbours, came and burnt down our houses and granaries. By the time I was in secondary school, life had become tough for me as we had lost all our possessions as a family. I started asking myself a lot of questions and developed a negative attitude towards the Ndorobo community.
From 2005 to 2007, the third phase of land redistribution by the government of Kenya in the Mt. Elgon region was underway. It was then that the land conflict escalated and violent clashes started to occur with militia groups being formed. The Sabaot Land Defence Force was formed with the aim of protecting the land interests of its community from the perceived injustice in the resettlement process. The group received support from politicians as membership was drawn from among the youth. It was at this time that I had a desire to join the militia group but my mother refused.
With the escalation of violent conflict between the Soy and Mosop — of which I am a Soy — there was a lot of killings, torture and destruction of property. I lost many relatives including brothers, cousins, uncles and close friends, and it was then that we became internally displaced.
Everyone in my family ran to safety. I and my elder brother went together but on the way we almost got killed as there were gunshots everywhere and we frequently faced death. It is only through God’s will that we made it. I experienced a tough life of slavery; eating was a problem, and this affected me psychologically, physically, emotionally, socially; my education was disrupted.
After the ethnic conflict of 2008, I became aware of the work of Peace Tree Network (PTN) and I started participating in their work in 2009 centered on peace-building. PTN has played a big role in my life by transforming my outlook through their seminars, trainings, and exchange programs, and I now live life in a positive way. For instance, during the conflict period, my heart was filled with revenge for losing my relatives and I did not want to socialise with the Ndorobo group, but through the teachings and skills learnt, it has brought about healing and reconciliation in my life and changed my negative thinking of revenge towards positive living with all people, especially the ones I viewed as my enemies.
I have also discovered my career path for counseling psychology which I am currently pursuing. I have become a peace ambassador and engaged in a reconciliation process in my community through the use of mediation and forgiveness and through that I have learnt the importance of maintaining peace. I educate the youth against engaging in violence and being misused by leaders for their personal gain.
With these skills that I have, I live positively, not a life of hopelessness and negativity, and I am very thankful to be here and to be a testimony of a positive peaceful existence.