NEWS: The Forgiveness Project in Kenya

A new version of The F Word exhibition has been created to tour Kenya in the build-up to the elections on 4th March 2013, and beyond. The last elections in 2007 were marred by violence and blood shed.

The exhibition includes an additional ten new stories gathered in Kenya over the past six months. By showcasing stories of forgiveness and reconciliation in four travelling exhibitions, the project aims to help heal past wounds and explore the nature of forgiveness and conflict resolution. The stories all highlight the human cost of violence and the futility of revenge.

The launch of the exhibition was held at Tribe hotel, Nairobi, on 8th February, and attended by some of those whose stories feature in the exhibition and the Australian High Commissioner, who funded the exhibitions on behalf of the Australian Government, and who was the evening’s keynote speaker.  Also present was Simon Marks who worked for several years at The Forgiveness Project and who has been instrumental in getting the work in Kenya off the ground.  The following week, the exhibition was part of an event  held at the home of the Australian High Commissioner, and attended by over 200 diplomats and VIPs.

Albie Sachs – the anti-apartheid campaigner who lost an arm and was partially blinded in a car bomb in 1988 – is currently working in Kenya and sent a statement that he asked to be read out at the launch, as unfortunately he couldn’t make it at the last minute. We are deeply grateful for his support.

“I wish I could be present at the launch. It is an excellent project. We called the peaceful transition in South Africa from the vicious system of apartheid to a constitutional democracy a miracle. It was like a miracle, but wasn’t a miracle. It became possible because millions and millions of African people, despite their hardship, or perhaps because of their hardship, had never lost the deep traditional spirit of ubuntu, a shared sense of humanity: I am a person because you are a person, my humanity can’t be separated from a recognition of your humanity. Because of ubuntu and the Truth Commission I was able to meet the soldier who had organised the placing of a bomb in my car that cost me my right arm and the sight of an eye. It was a moving encounter, from which we both emerged better human beings. The key to the encounter was that our country had changed. Ubuntu, the spirit of reconciliation, requires dealing with the causes of the conflict. But it can help overcome those causes, and be liberating to the individuals involved in a very personal way.”

Of the four new exhibitions in Kenya, one will be hosted by the University of Nairobi and is open to the public as well as students. The second exhibition will be hosted by a youth transformation initiative in the city of Kisumu. The third exhibition will be showcased for 6 – 8 weeks in the municipal town hall of the town of Eldoret where much of the post election violence took place. After this it will be on display at the Peace & Reconciliation Centre at the Moi University. The final exhibition will be presented at The Peace Festival in Nairobi before residing in Nakuru, the third largest town in Kenya.

The new stories will be added to this website at a later date.


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