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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pursue peace at work


By Francis Kahihu

The General Elections are eventually over. The announcement of the results brought along a crisis that has affected virtually everyone within Kenya. The effects have also been felt across our borders, especially in Uganda and the Great Lakes states. Lives have been lost and property destroyed. There is so much pain in the hearts of many people. The level of inflation has gone up. There is a problem unites all of us. We are all touched by the tentacles of the conflict hence share the pain, though there are those in our society who have been hurt more than the rest. To them, we say, pole and wish them quick recovery.

As we get back to our workplaces, we are nursing hurts. Some people are yet to report to work since they have been unable to travel back to their duty stations. Hundreds of others have also been killed hence workplaces are mourning, not just their own, but also relatives and friends of their workmates. There is a cry at work and this needs some urgent attention. Regardless of the side workers are on the political divide, there is a level of tension that is clearly manifested on the workplaces. The feelings borne by our relatives and friends, especially those undergoing difficult situations, are transferred to us at work. This seems to be shaping up attitudes at work leading to counter accusations.

This is sincerely not the time to settle scores at work based on how persons’ political inclinations. It is not the time to accuse each other of betray, nor is it the time to mock others with celebratory remarks. It is a time to seek peace and pursue avenues to heal our great land. One may ask, “What impact would a single person like me make in salvaging such a huge crisis?” Individuals make up groups. An individual utters words that propel reconciliation among communities and persons. We all have been presented with small worlds that we can positively influence.

The workplace is one such an opportunity. We spend our most active person-hours at work, hence have time to influence and to be influenced. As we gather back at work in the wake of the a national calamity, we have a duty towards society to seek peace among ourselves and hope that the multiplier effect will bring forth desired positive changes. If we were to embrace each other in the spirit of brotherhood (and sisterhood), we will set a precedent that would be replicated throughout the country. The fact is that we all have a world around us and these small worlds by far rely on certain things that we say and do. If we embrace one another and make requests to our kins to embrace other persons, we in a small bring desired change to the situation.

Late last year, I had published an article on how politics severe workplace relationships. Prior to the elections, we all had varied political inclinations. We now have to get back to work, forgetting the past and seek to pursue peace with one another. As it has been said in various quarters, the elections were a loss to the entire Kenyan people. We have not emerged with any winners in the poll as we all bleed. Emphasis now should be on the rebuilding the broken relationships.

It is likely that after the elections, the cliques that had formed before the elections will continue meeting discussing the results and the impact. Unfortunately, these cliques seem to add insult to the already painful injury. The cliques are exclusive clubs that fail to incorporate persons with divergent views. They hence only perpetuate division and suspicion and do little to reconcile the situation. A way forward would then be to break the cliques and where they cannot be broken, break the walls of the group and have a goal to propagate open discussions on the peace.

As much as political talk rules the air in most social conversations, it will be helpful to gauge the tone and attitude of our discussions to ensure that we are conciliatory in our speaking. Let us not be seen to revenge against our perceived adversaries by inflicting psychological harm through our language. It is our time to behave differently from the politicians who seek for every opportunity to divide and rule. We can serve as the glue to promote cohesion in our society by showing appreciation for one another and seeking to advocate for the respect of every member working with us.

Employers have the duty to play in ensuring that tribal inclinations are discouraged at all costs at work. This could be done by a demonstration of conscious employment policies that encourage integration of persons from varying communities.

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