Building Interfaith Tolerance and Peace in Mombasa and Kwale County

By Caroline Maina

“Tolerance is giving to every other human-being every right that you claim for yours – Robert Green Ingersol.”Interfaith tolerance entails peaceful co-existence and mutual understanding amongst different faith communities within any given region with the faith communities working together to achieve common action.

“Tolerance is giving to every other human-being every right that you claim for yours – Robert Green Ingersol.”

The IRCK has a mission of promoting tolerance and understanding among faith communities in Kenya through mobilizing joint actions for socio-economic development having one of its key core value as Unity and tolerance. The vision of the organization is “Faith communities living in peace; united in socio-economic development in Kenya.”

The Inter Faith Peace Building follow-up meeting was aimed at tracking the interfaith peace and tolerance progress in Mombasa and Kwale Counties after the IFPB training workshop held in July, 2019. The meeting also acted as a benchmark platform for the participants on sharing experiences on the achievements and challenges of accomplishing peace works. From the discussions it was unanimous that family is the most basic unit in the society where peace should be instilled with the ripple effects spreading outwards to the society, counties and the nation at large.

The Christians, Muslims and Kayas –“traditional religion in the Coastal region in Kenya” shared aspects of their religion and beliefs.

During the workshop, faith communities, learnt each other’s beliefs and practices as a way of promoting interfaith tolerance and peaceful co-existence.  The Christians, Muslims and Kayas –“traditional religion in the Coastal region in Kenya” shared aspects of their religion and beliefs.

Christian faith leaders teaching other faith leaders a Christian Chorus

The Christians taught the faith leaders in attendance a Christian worship song while the Muslims taught the faith leaders a Quran verse. The Kayas on the other hand taught the faith leaders a Kaya prayer.

Muslim youth leader teaching other faith leaders a Quran verse

The peace forums across the two Counties have continued to play key roles in demystifying perceptions on other religions by people from different religions. This has played a key role in ensuring interfaith tolerance across different religions. An example of such beliefs is that of the “Kaya” a traditional faith community in the coastal region. The Kayas have wooden carvings called “vinyago” which are named after late relatives to which they perform traditional ceremonies to appease. Many people from other religions have always associated this practices with witchcraft.  The interfaith tolerance dialogue forums played a crucial role in demystifying the myth as well as ensuring peaceful interfaith relations between the Kayas and other faith communities in the society.

Kaya faith leader sensitizing other faith leaders on Kaya beliefs and traditions

As a key way of promoting interfaith tolerance and peace, faith leaders should be encouraged to use non-violent communication (NVC) as opposed to classical form of communication. The NVC emphasizes on one’s needs, observations, feel and request as opposed to classical form of communication which emphasizes on demands, statements, thoughts and tends to be judgmental.  The NVC gives an opportunity to the society to give their perception during workshop engagements. It is key for faith leaders to emphasize on intentions rather than mechanisms (tools) on achieving results during implementation of interfaith peace works.

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