The Special Olympics Kenya in partnership with the National Police Service, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and the Mkenya Daima Initiative, have launched the Amani Torch Run with the aim of reaching two million Kenyan youth with the message of peace and inclusivity ahead of the general election on August 9, 2022.
The Amani Torch Run will tour the 47 counties, until July 5, 2022, when the torch will return to Nairobi for the lighting of the National Peace & Inclusion flame which will culminate into the signing of the NCIC Peace & Accountability Charter and the Mkenya Daima Peace and Leadership Pledge, by political leaders and Kenyans alike.
The Amani Torch Run is divided into seven routes – Rift Valley, North Eastern, Western, Nyanza, Coast, Eastern and Central regions – will contribute to the Mkenya Daima message of ‘Nitatenda Wajibu Wangu’ (taking responsibility) towards electoral participation, the NCIC Election Bila Noma Campaign as well as the Special Olympics vision of creating a new world of inclusion and community, where every single person is accepted and welcomed, regardless of ability or disability.
“Nothing brings people together like sports, as we launch The Amani Torch Run today in Nairobi, our vision is to reach and share the message of inclusivity and peace to all Kenyans with and without intellectual disabilities,” said Thuo Cege, Chairman of Special Olympics Kenya.
Thuo added that persons with intellectual disabilities were considerably more vulnerable to overarching threats arising from electoral vįolence, with their plight often unaccounted for.
Speaking at the event, Dr Vimal Shah, Chair, Mkenya Daima Initiative welcomed the initiative and encouraged more public and private collaboration in advancing the message of peace and positive electoral participation by the youth and all citizens throughout the country.
“Our goal is to inspire Kenyans to elect good, accountable leaders and for us to have a prosperous Kenya afterwards. If everybody does their part as a responsible citizen, we shall definitely achieve peace and we urge all Kenyans young and old to embrace the Mkenya Daima message of taking responsibility for Kenya,” he said.
Edward Mbugua, Deputy Inspector General, reiterated the Kenya Police Service’s commitment to assisting the public and enforcing the law while maintaining peace in the country, before, during and after the general elections.
“Insecurity is brought about by our very own friends, relatives and colleagues in the community and we know them. It is therefore everyone’s responsibility to respect the law and maintain peace wherever we are. Security starts with you,” he said.
Dr Stephen Jackson, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kenya, lauded the police for partnering with the Special Olympics Kenya, the NCIC including Mkenya Daima, saying Kenyans were counting on the police to also be accountable in ensuring peace during the electioneering period.
“Kenyans are renowned worldwide for long distance running and for being a bastion of peace in the region. Time and again Kenyans have also proven that you can go to the polls and change governments peacefully. It is therefore brilliant that today you have put these two important things together to run for peace and speak to young people on this important topic,” he said.
Rev. Dr Simon Kobia, Chairman NCIC, sought to remind Kenyans that while not all Kenyans might instigate electoral vįolence or háte speech, the effects impact on everyone in the community.
“We have witnessed untold suffering such as loss of lįfe, limb and property. The scars left behind make people lose peace of mind and become worse off in society. It is therefore prudent that we are here to light up the torch of peace and put off the flames of hatred and vįolence. Today we want to remind all Kenyans, from all walks of life that we are one people,” said Kobia.
President and Managing Director Special Olympics Africa Region, Mr Charles Nyambe, making his remarks said for peace to work, we must all believe and practice it.
“This is the example we want to showcase to all Kenyans with the launch of the Amani Torch Run. Just like our athletes practice it, Kenyans should view each other with tolerance, acceptance, respect and dignity which are all hallmarks of peace in the community,” he said.
Mkenya Daima is a non-partisan multi-stakeholder platform formed in 2012 with the primary purpose of inspiring peaceful elections and smooth transition of leadership thus creating stability which is essential for business continuity and prosperity for Kenya as a Nation.