Julienne Gage is a freelance journalist in Washington, D.C. She spent time reporting in Kenya in 2012 for the International Reporting Project.
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Making Peace in a Powder Keg
IN DECEMBER 2007, Naomi Mwangi, a Christian, fled her home in Kisumu, Kenya, as men with machetes attacked towns across the region. For five weeks violence raged nationwide. When the bloodshed ended, more than 1,300 Kenyans were dead and another 650,000 had been displaced. Mwangi and her family ended up living in the Maai Mahiu refugee camp, south of Nairobi. She was 12 years old.
Mwangi is coming of age in a society with ethnic violence in the background, extremist violence in the foreground, and massive economic inequality. Africa has the highest concentration of young people in the world and more than half of them are unemployed. Mwangi wanted something different—she wanted to work for peace.
Now 21, Mwangi is a leader in grassroots peacemaking campaigns that seek to end conflicts between the 42 ethnic groups in this majority-Christian country. The 2007 election violence pitted Christian against Christian, as ethnic ties trumped religious affiliation. Even now, during elections, Mwangi told Sojourners, “Leaders motivate youth to join in the political crisis ... to fight against another tribe.”
A major obstacle to social and economic stability among youth in Kenya is unequal distribution of government-issued identification cards. Kenyans need ID cards for everything from voting and university enrollment to obtaining grants for entrepreneurship programs. But historically, the ruling government doled them out as political favors, and they’ve often been denied to members of minority groups.
“There are plenty of applications at election time,” Mwangi said, explaining that the ID process is slowed down or delayed when it seems one ethnic group could tip the chances of a politician who represents a different group.
Staying Connected in Later Years
With a Little Help from Our Friends: Creating Community as We Grow Older. Vanderbilt University Press.
Life After A Death
Pilgrimage through Loss: Pathways to Strength and Renewal after the Death of a Child, by Linda Lawrence Hunt. Westminster John Knox Press.
All in the Family
Churches in the "127 Movement" are opening their hearts, homes, and families to welcome children in the foster care system.
Gen Xers and the New Cuba
A new generation of Cuban Americans encourages broader dialogue.
A Tropical Quest
Restless Fires: Young John Muir's Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf in 1867-68. Mercer University Press.
Seeking the Peace of the City
Faith communities work to stem the flow of guns to criminals.
A Higher Calling For Higher Ed
Trinity University found the future of education -- hiding in its own neighborhood.
Spokane Indian Sherman Alexie often snaps "that's personal" during interviews, yet the characters in his books and films closely follow his own life growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation...
It takes the rare vocal talents of a singer like Lila Downs to silence a Madrid crowd—and convince them to put out their cigarettes without complaining.
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