Prime Minister Odinga Welcomes the Global Peace Festival
Monday, September 1, 2008
The Prime Minister of Kenya, the Hon. Raila Odinga, and his wife Ida Odinga, joined by an international delegation that included seven former heads of state and over 120 members of parliament, spiritual leaders and representatives of civil society, were warmly welcomed by a crowd of over 10,000 enthusiastic Kenyans to the Global Peace Festival (GPF) in Nairobi August 31. The GPF is the third this year in a series that started in Asunción, Paraguay, and Washington DC, US.
“This is an important day for Kenya and for Africa,” said Odinga, “It is a new beginning in the quest for our nation to be once again known as a nation of peace and security.” The Prime Minister came to office earlier this year after a historic power-sharing agreement with political rival President Mwai Kibaki ended a period of post-election violence.
“The Universal Peace Federation and the Global Peace Festival are doing great things in Kenya,” Odinga said. “Just yesterday, they mobilized thousands of young Kenyans to start cleaning out the Nairobi River. We long for the day when our nation can again be proud of this river, which could provide water to millions.”
Nairobi River Clean Up
Today, the Nairobi River is unbelievably foul, virtually an open sewer. Repulsed by the thought of wading into the raw sewage and stench to pull pick up sodden garbage and put it into bags, most citizens of the city have long been holding their noses and looking the other way.
The Global Peace Festival organized community-wide cleanup efforts in ten different locations throughout the month of August.
Some of the clean-up crews encountered the bodies of infant children, apparently put into the river by slum dwellers without the means to afford proper burial. Others reported a stream of unlicensed dump trucks pouring garbage directly into the river. “More than hard work will be needed,” said project coordinator Edwin Plekhanov. “We need a complete change of heart in our leaders and ourselves.”
Local MP Hon. Ferdinand Waititu promised his Embakassa constituency that he would work to bring the resources and the political support needed. “This is an important development,” said David Anderson, a fellow MP visiting from England. “We elected officials must support the aspirations of our people.”
International Leadership Conference
Anderson was among a group of more than 100 Kenyan and international participants in the International Leadership Conference hosted by the Universal Peace Federation, principal sponsor of the Global Peace Festival.
“We are presenting a new, values-based approach to leadership,” said UPF Africa Secretary General Mwalagho Kililo, “and we are finding that many of our delegates see this as a way out of the swamp of corruption, selfishness, and inefficiency that has plagued our nations for years.”
Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, Co-chairman of the UPF and Chairman of the Global Peace Festival, delivered the GPF keynote address to an enthusiastic crowd at the Jomo Kenyatta International Conference Center. Dr. Moon, who is the third son of the international spiritual leaders and peacemakers Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon, urged Kenyans to take pride in their nation and Africa’s role as the cradle of civilization.
“The message of ‘One Family under God’ should be a clarion call for this age,” he said. “The power of one human family united can quell the turmoil of conflict throughout the world – from the conflict in the Middle East, the remnant of the Cold War in Korea, and poverty, disease and civil strife in Africa.”
The Festival closed with a high-energy concert featuring some of Kenya’s top entertainers, including gospel and rap stars Jua Cali, Bilenge Musica, Kanji, and others. From Nairobi, the Global Peace Festival now moves on to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, followed by London, England, and ten other locations with a finale in Brasilia in December.