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The Spear in the Corner
Peter Serete, AVP Luhya lead facilitator, Kenya

Sometimes, as this story illustrates the peacemakers themselves have to overcome their own prejudices and stereotypes. The Nandi live next to the Luhya, the major tribe of the Quakers in western Kenya, but have a different language family and great suspicion and frequent violence between the two groups. Both sides have their stereotypes of the other which keeps them distrustful of each other. Once when we were doing the pre AVP training before working with the Nandi, the facilitators from other tribes believed very negative stereotypex about the Nandi: they would not come to the workshops unless they got a sitting allowance, the men would be antagonistic and uncooperative, and the women would be too reserved to speak. It took only one workshop by each facilitator to realize that these stereotypes were all untrue as the Nandi were as cooperative and interested as anyone else.

The house that we slept in had one big spear in the corner of the [Nandi] house. My fear about this spear clicked my mind, not knowing how many people it had killed in 1992 land clashes and the 2007 disputed election results. When I hear “Nandi” what triggers my mind is bows and poisoned spears. Being a lead facilitator I could not hide my fear. I wished we could stay in a hotel. After team building I spent a sleepless night fighting my conscience and the perception I had of this people.

In the morning we had a knock on the door. A young boy had come to pick us up to go to the river and have a cold bath which is routine in most of this community. It takes heart to go through this experience. Through AVP I have slept in the house of a Nandi, eaten together, and took a bath in their river. I have learnt that indeed we are one and we will always need each other at one point in life, if we build trust and love we will impress peace all over.