‘Kenya’s pain is Africa’s pain’
Feb 12, 2008
NAIROBI - Rights activist Graca Machel delivered an emotional plea
to Kenyan lawmakers today to help end the crisis sparked by
disputed elections, saying they were facing a “historical mission.”
Machel, the wife of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, is helping
former United Nations (UN) secretary general Kofi Annan mediate
negotiations to resolve the dispute over presidential polls that
unleashed violence in which 1,000 people have died.
“This parliament has a historical mission,” Machel told the
assembly convened after Annan was making headway toward a deal
that he said could be announced by late Thursday.
“It has to help to redefine the common place, the common ground
where every Kenyan has a place of belonging.”
Kenya descended into violence after elections on December 27 that
President Mwai Kibaki officially won but the opposition claims
were rigged. International observers have also found flaws during
“Kenya’s pain is Africa’s pain. Kenya’s success is Africa’s
success,” Machel said.
The post-election turmoil has laid bare tribalism as well as
simmering resentment over land issues and wealth disparities in
Kenya, long considered a model of stability in Africa.
The new parliament, elected also in the December 27 polls, is
almost equally divided between Kibaki’s party and its allies and
the parties supporting opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Machel, who was also married to late Mozambican president Samora
Machel, made the appeal to lawmakers on behalf of “the children
who have learnt and discovered that their ethnic identity has
”The women who are caught in this crisis,” she said, “they are
mothers, they are wives, they are sisters of someone, they are
dear, so dear to someone as our own mothers, our wives, our
sisters are dear to us.”
“Please do redefine a new sense of citizenship based on what
unites Kenyans and not on what divides them.” Machel, 62, is a
member along with Annan and former Tanzanian president Benjamin
Mkapa, another member of the Kenyan mediation team, of the African
Union’s panel of eminent Africans.