Published in Ekeyokon Newsletter of Diocese of Lodwar, August 2016 Issue.
The recent incident that took place on Sunday July 31, 2016 at Todonyang Mission where an Ethiopian man was shot dead by a Turkana man immediately we concluded Holy Mass has left me with a heavy heart since then. I feel very much ashamed and wounded because this man together with other people from across the Ethiopian Border had been invited to come and join us since the Parish – named after Our Lady Queen of Peace – was celebrating 10 years of its establishment Moreover these people from Ethiopia were coming to visit their children who are studying in the Parish school called Our Lady of Peace Integrated Centre. One of the functions we were to do after Mass was the opening of a new block of classrooms.
This learning institution was started precisely as a connector project with the aim of bringing the children from the two conflicting Communities, the Turkana and Dassanech to learn to study and to live together. The school, started by the Missionary Community of Saint Paul the Apostle, has been a success story. There are already over 200 children from both communities living amicably and interacting together without any problem until this assassin, with one bullet, managed on Sunday to derail the Peace process that has taken ten years to build. Whether he acted alone, with others or was being used by sinister forces, this man has done a great harm not only to the two Communities but has left all of us wounded and unable to comprehend the dark hatred and the devilish force of revenge alive in the heart of such an individual. To dare to execute such an act in a holy ground, in broad daylight in front of everybody – above all little children – as people from all works of life were meeting to celebrate the gift of life and the peace that was taking root makes me to believe that we all came face to face with the devil.
I pray from the depth of my heart that blood of this old man who was so full of joy as he danced with the other Ethiopian people during the Holy Mass will be the seed of lasting peace in Todonyang and other parts of our region, nation and the entire world where there is conflict and the people of God cannot enjoy – the peace of the risen Christ.
My shame at witnessing this ugly and devilish incident was compounded by the fact that among those who were attending the celebrations was a Catholic Priest from Omorate in Ethiopia and the Orthodox Father of a Church very near the border. What started as wonderful celebration ended in disarray with the one gun shot that felled the man.
I wish to thank all those people who acted quickly to restore calm. My appreciation goes to Fr. Alex Campon, Fr. Andrew Yakulula, Fr. Albert Salvans, Scholastica, Patricia and other MCSPA members; the Kenyan and Ethiopian leaders and security forces who were there; and all the people of good will, whom God used to manage the situation. It required courage and strength and they provided that.
Similarly I note with appreciation those who accompanied us to Ethiopia as we escorted the people from Ethiopia to their villages and also the body of the dead man to the Orthodox Church there. This was when it dawned on me that had we not invited these people to our function they could not have lost the dear one. This realization left me in anguished and with no words to console them. I only prayed from the depths my heart that this could not be the beginning another circle of revenge and counter revenge that have been witnessed before in Todonyang.
My plea to the government and all the authorities is to go after the killer. To leave him at large will enhance the culture of impunity that is prevalent in the region. If the government was to react swiftly in apprehending the criminal then with Justice, peace will prevail. I call upon both governments of Ethiopia and Kenya to really work for lasting peace in the area.
Too many lives have been lost and another life lost, whether that of a Kenyan or an Ethiopian, will just fuel the impression there that we have very weak government, both at the county and national level, that is not interested in the security of its own citizens but very active in corruption, in stealing the resources that is supposed to be managing and is busy enhancing the culture of impunity.
For all those who still have a sense of decency and with consciences that are still alive let us not be discouraged or demoralized by what is happening. We should not rest until we find a lasting solution to the challenges we are facing. Sooner or later we shall conquer all the evils we are seeing for God is with us since our Lord Jesus Christ assured us: “I have said this to you, than in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).