Wajibu Wetu

In 1965, the Government of Kenya (GoK) produced one of the most well-thought through sessional papers ( Sessional Paper No. 10 on African Socialism and its Application to Kenya).The document, produced barely two years after the country’s independence, argued that accountability, integrity, mutual social responsibility and reciprocity formed the core values that would define Kenya’s national character. The clarion call then became “Harambee” translated to mean “let’s pull together”. Kenyans were encouraged to pull together their energies, resources, aspirations, expectations and towards one direction, with a common purpose and a desire to achieve prosperity for the young national imagination. These core values, aspirations and expectations provide the backdrop for Kenya Constitution (2010), particularly Chapter Six of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity. In pulling together, conflicts, ethnic animosity, and tribal groupings would be minimized. “Wajibu Wetu” project is an attempt to fall back on the wisdom of the authors of Sessional Paper No. 10; the vision of the Kenyan Nation as articulated in the National Anthem; and through University Research and Community engagement to create a sustainable culture of peace.

The “Wajibu Wetu” Project at the University of Nairobi attempts to bring to the fore three key areas: (i) public-private sector collaboration in search for sustainable peace; (ii) pure and applied research on conflict, negative ethnicity, political thuggery, the problem of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) and (iii), the strengthening of the university-community continuum. If advanced in a systematic and sustainable manner, a Culture of Peace seed will have been planted. The aim of the project is to work out, in collaboration with other stakeholders, in order to create an Institute for Peace Studies that will nurture a sustainable Culture of Peace in the country and the Region as a whole.

“Wajibu Wetu” is Swahili for “Our Shared Responsibility”. The concept is aptly borrowed from Kenya’s determination, at independence to “build this our nation together” (third stanza, Kenya National Anthem). The absence of peace in the country during the 1992, 1997, 2007 general elections is a stark reminder that there is a need to redefine the national ethos. The current Project and is an attempt to rectify the situation and move forward with determination to rebuild the peace blocks that are necessary for a 21st Century Kenya.

The search for sustainable peace, however, has to start with a clear understanding of the areas of conflict that lead to misunderstandings, fear, mistrust and total lack of harmony. In order to have a working method for sustainable peace, different actors, including universities, must play a role. University students need to understand the interdependence of different ethnic communities, socially, politically, culturally and economically in order to support the democratization and integration of these communities.

The Wajibu Wetu Project is an initiative bringing together public / private universities, the public and the private  sector, the government, to contribute towards the creation of a sustainable culture of peace. The Concept Wajibu Wetu brings to the fore three major elements of Higher Education particularly universities namely:

  1. The University – Community continuum where vibrant interaction takes place between staff and students and their communities;
  2. A knowledge society created through the engagement of Universities and the local communities;
  3. Innovative ways of bringing together university students and counties in a devolved government. The innovations utilized by Wajibu Wetu should be able to support a culture of peace and uphold ethical standards for all.

Main Activities of Phase I:

  1. Public & Private University Vice Chancellors’ Round Table Conference
  2. Mount Kenya University Peace for All: “Kenya for Peace”
  3. Engagement with Goodwill Ambassadors for Peace
  4. Engagement with  Community Groups
  5. Wajibu Wetu Public Debate presided by Prof. Goran Hyden