The overall theme of the Conference was
ETHNIC DIVERSITY AS A RESOURCE IN EASTERN AFRICA
and AHADI commissioned a set of papers which formed the basis of the conversations at the conference.
There were plenary and group sessions with participants drawing on experiences from around the region. The conference sub-themes included:
- What is the nature of ethnic identity in contemporary Africa?
- How is ethnicity as in Africa a political and social construct?
- How can ethnic diversity be turned into a resource for political, economic and social development
- How can ethnic diversity contribute to the development and strengthening of democratic institutions?
- Which innovative approaches and strategies exist for creating, generating, and disseminating knowledge to enhance positive ethnicity and inter-ethnic collaboration where political ethnicity is common?
- What models of land allocation and use as well as environmental protection could foster and strengthen multi-ethnic ownership and utilization in the region?
- How can Kiswahili, the lingua franca of eastern Africa, be promoted as the core vehicle for the suppression of negative ethnicity and stereotyping and in promoting positive ethnicity and diversity?
- What models of educational experiences at various levels of education are capable of promoting positive ethnicity and functioning multiculturalism?
- How can ethnic diversity contribute to a creative economy without the commodification and stereotyping of communities?
- How can national and pan-African identities be strengthened and peaceful multi-ethnic nations built?
Although efforts in the pursuit of democracy and good governance in some African countries are remarkable, there is more work to be done as was identified by the participants in the following series of recommendations.
Political inclusion and minority rights
Give voice to minorities through effective mechanisms such as affirmative action/positive discrimination.
Minorities may include ethnic, linguistic and religious groups, women, people with disabilities and youth among others.
Implement proportional representation and party lists as the electoral system for the region to strengthen the basis of national level political parties.
Undertake real and meaningful decentralization with clear checks and balances, to sanction the regime.
Interventions to empower youth economically
Increase the availability of funds allocated specifically for youth employment and development, targeting projects at the district and village level.
Create more jobs for the youth especially in the countryside. This can be done using the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), focusing on labour intensive projects such as road construction. It may also include skills development in agriculture and agro-business, anchoring of creative industries and investment in information technology.
Expand markets for agricultural products, targeting specific agricultural/livestock projects and products such as horticulture, fish and fruits among others.
Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC)
Create greater awareness among prospective witnesses about the importance and process of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission in Kenya
AHADI to spearhead the development of a position paper on what TJRC ought to do in relation to other commissions which recommended its establishment and to explore the possibility of establishing a coalition of civil society organizations on the TJRC process.
Engage with TJRC/Reference group on critical areas such as: timely release of funds; recruitment processes; financial management and engage partners on commitment to support TJRC to deliver on its mandate
Selection and admission of students to secondary schools should be done through a digitalized blind system. This would ensure that students from different ethnic backgrounds learn together and establish national network
Teachers and lecturers should be posted to learning institutions regardless of their ethnicity. Governors and leaders of academic institutions should be appointed on merit, without consideration for ethnic background. Communities should be sensitized to accept that institutions located in their neighbourhood are available to all learners irrespective of their ethnic origin
All curricula – primary secondary, colleges and universities – should be revised so as to expunge any content that has connotations of ethnic stereotypes. More specifically, the history syllabus should seek to have a national outlook. Instructional, education and communication materials for all learning institutions should be geared towards promotion of unity and ethnic integration
Competitive cultural shows such as schools’ drama and music festivals should be maintained and enhanced at all levels of education. As much as possible the festivals should be held in different parts of the country and the local community should be involved
Governance and leadership training at community levels should be carried out to encourage ethnic integration. This should target opinion leaders, leaders of academic institutions and cultural icons.
Nationhood, national cohesion and integration
The state should encourage people to recognize that they live in an artificial state and deliberately accept their commonness. Media can play a central role in entrenching inter-ethnic tolerance and trust. The state should put in place mechanisms to promote Kiswahili as a national language and the ‘lingua franca’ of the region.
Establish a social movement, mobilizing the people and cutting across communities and other identities, to demand for economic development, legal and other changes towards the artificial statehood. To be spearheaded by civil society organisations, the social movement ought to involve the gatekeepers and opinion leaders to ensure that the communities own it.
Design and implement programmes that empower communities. This will ensure equitable distribution of resources and access to opportunities by all communities. The government should adopt strategies and policies that ensure redistribution of resources.
Establish basic principles and values on how a society is managed. The principles should be agreed upon and written down in a National Political Charter.
Interventions in Land Sector
At the Policy Level, recognizing that the land policy provides for customary land interests, ensure the completion of the land policy formulation process and its adoption.
- Create community awareness in order to put pressure on relevant state organs to act on the policy.
- Translate the policy into law by establishing a legal regime to charter implementation of the policy.
- Establish an institutional framework through capacity building for policy implementation and develop relevant institutions representative of all stakeholders, including civil society.
- Establish a monitoring and evaluation framework, with appropriate milestones/indicators to ensure that policy and legal commitments are followed through.
Documentation of Best Practices and Learning Process
- At national level research the land practices of different communities
- At regional and continental level, determine lessons learnt and best practices which can enrich the region
- Facilitate the sharing experiences nationally, regionally and continentally
Pilot land administration/customary systems based on the findings above
Land, historical injustices and ethnicity
Following the land policy, research and concretize claims related to this phenomenon across the country
Establish a forum for discussion on this phenomenon (include outside experience to give the exercise a trans-national outlook), for example by supporting a joint state-civil society project.
Design a program on how to move forward, in consistence with the provisions of the land policy, for example on how to engage the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission.
Pilot land administration/customary systems based on the findings above