NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
A mood of reconciliation has gripped Kenya after
President Uhuru Kenyatta asked the country to forgive him for
any mistakes he has committed.
Wednesday during his first State of the Nation Address after
winning a second term, was categorical that during last year’s
two disputed presidential polls, he wronged many people.
He, therefore, asked
for forgiveness, saying it is time to build bridges and move
forward in peace.
“If there is
anything I said last year that hurt or wounded you, if I damaged
the unity of this country in any way, I ask you to forgive me,”
said Kenyatta in parliament.
elections, over 200 people were killed in poll-related violence
perpetuated by the police and citizens in rival political camps,
according to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.
famously quoted as having called Supreme Court judges crooks
after they annulled his first win in Aug. 8 polls, and ordered
for repeat polls on Oct. 26, 2017. The statement was widely
But he has now
mended fences with opposition leader Raila Odinga, his main
rival in last year’s polls, and continues to do so as he seeks
to unite the country.
elected leaders and ordinary citizens took Kenyatta’s clarion
call of forgiveness and preached the message.
William Ruto welcomed Kenyatta’s move, and similarly apologized
to anyone he had offended.
“Find it in your
heart to forgive me. I have forgiven all those who wronged me.
Let’s embark on building the bridges of friendship and unity,”
and true penance. That is the way to go. Congratulations your
excellence,” said Opposition senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior.
Citizens, on the
other hand, took to social media and radio stations to air their
views in support of the reconciliation.
“I want to forgive
my neighbour. He was supporting Odinga and I was backing
Kenyatta during the polls. We were not talking until recently. I
forgive him and he has also forgiven me,” said Jared, a caller
at an FM station on Wednesday night.
He then offered the
phone to his neighbour who passed the same message. Several
radio stations discussing the subject were also jammed with
similar messages as citizens called for a fresh start.
On social media, the
topic trended Wednesday evening but opinion was divided on
“Our President has
set the tone. No one is more Kenyan than the other ... hatred
and malice must end. Positive critique of government is
accepted,” said lawyer Donald Kipkorir.
James ole Kiyiapi, a
professor of environment and a political analyst, said
Kenyatta’s message was positive and must herald a new national
questioned the genuineness of the president’s move, noting for
better reconciliation, he should have ordered for the
compensation of those killed by police in election violence.
and genuine reconciliation is based on candid truth, justice and
guarantee of non-repetition. Anything else is pure hoax,” said
human rights activist Ndungu Wainaina.
Barrack Muluka, a
political analyst, criticized Kenyatta’s move noting that real
reconciliation can also happen if the country has an
“What is happening
now is reconciliation between Kenyatta and Odinga families.
Citizens have not been involved...all we are being told is that
we should forgive and reconcile,” he said.
Henry Wandera, an
economics lecturer in Nairobi and a political analyst, however,
lauded the gesture by the president noting that as the figure
head, he is showing Kenyans direction.
to start from somewhere and it is good that this time round, it
is beginning at the top which becomes easier for citizens to
embrace it,” he said.
The best thing about
the ongoing efforts to unite the country, according to him, is
that they are good for the economy.
will boost business environment thus create jobs making people
happy at the end and reconcile naturally,” he said.