A tribal mediator in Kenya
I imagine a day, not far in the future, we will witness a flourishing multi-tribal, multi-faith, multi-party democracy. But for that day to come each one of us whether male or female in our beautiful land must first find the part of him/her self that crosses borders. It means that each one of us should open eyes to see beyond tribal, races, faith boundaries; open our minds to listen to the stories of our rival; open our hearts to feel each other’s fear and hopes, and open our hands to work together across ethnic lines to build a new more inclusive and just one united image and children of our Almighty God.
Boaz Keibarak was born in a rural area of northern Kenya among the Pokot people. Because of deep divisions in his own family he was driven out. He was eventually welcomed by a Christian family and raised by them. He soon noticed flaws and divisions among the churches, but rather than rejecting those who were different he developed a more inclusive vision of what true Christianity was and the peace that could grow from it.
Peace and mediation work
In 2008 Boaz attended a peace meeting hosted by local government area chiefs to address the chronic problem of cattle rustling. A voluntary District Peace Committee was established and Boaz was elected Secretary of the Board even though he was only in his early 20s. He continues to serve in that capacity.
Dan Buttry first met Boaz when he was mediating between the violently conflicted Pokot and Turkana communities. He would visit villages on each side and talk to the elders to explore the ways of peace. Boaz participated in the 10-day Training of Conflict Transformation Trainers (TCTT) Dan and his wife Sharon ran in Kenya in September 2013. Immediately after that training severe violence between the Turkanas and Pokots broke out leading to the deaths of over 130 people. One village lay siege to another, and BBC picked up the story.
Boaz quickly headed to the region and began talking with tribal leaders. He eventually negotiated a disengagement of the warring groups. Then he set up Mediation and Reconciliation Dialogues with leaders of the tribes to keep small issues from reigniting the violence and to decrease the cattle rustling. Boaz brought in Philip Kakungulu, another TCTT grad, to co-lead conflict transformation trainings with him in the Pokot and Turkana communities. They also organized a peace walk between the most conflicted villages.
Boaz continues to do peace-building in the region. He carried out conflict mapping of the West Pokot and Turkana Counties. He worked to restore trust in the police who had been afraid to come into the region because of the hostility in the community backed up with large amounts of automatic weapons; a fractured relationship that went back to a 1992 forced disarmament campaign that backfired. Boaz organized a series of Peace Sensitization Meetings that explored the issues and rebuilt communication. They talked about the negative impact of the illegal arms in the community. A voluntary disarmament campaign was instituted that brought a significant reduction in the weapons in the region and more normal relationships with the pastoralist people and the government.
Boaz has expanded his peacemaking beyond his home areas. He has participated in a national Education Peace Torch Campaign. As one of the founders of the Pan African Peace Network he and Lance Muteyo led a conflict transformation training for chiefs and traditional leaders in a conflicted region of Zimbabwe.
Boaz is married to Sophia Keibarak. They have a daughter named Hiemiah. To carry out his peacemaking work he established an organization called Kingdom of Peace and Development. KOPAD works with rural communities to identify unique resources in their localities that can sustainably be utilized to achieve community growth and development. The KOPAD catchphrase is
Amani Yangu, Jukumu Langu—
My Peace, My Responsibility.
Check out the Facebook group for Boaz’s organization: Kingdom of Peace and Development.
To see more about Boaz Keibarak’s work , view the PAPNET musical slideshow.