News / Africa

Flower Vendors Promote Election Peace in Kenya

A Kenyan woman sells a bouquet of red roses to a customer for celebrations of Valentine's Day at a flower market in Nairobi, Kenya, February 14, 2012.
A Kenyan woman sells a bouquet of red roses to a customer for celebrations of Valentine's Day at a flower market in Nairobi, Kenya, February 14, 2012.
Flowers are often associated with love, especially on Valentine's Day.  But in Kenya, flower vendors have joined forces to send a message of peace to Kenyans as the country prepares for next month's elections.  According to the head of the Kenya Flower Council, the vendors are supporting a widespread effort to avoid a repeat of the violence that erupted after the 2007 elections.

With less than three weeks to go before Kenya’s national elections, flower vendors in the country are using this Valentine's Day not only to sell flowers but to take part in the campaign to bring Kenyans together and urge them to behave peacefully during the election period.

A Nairobi flower vendor, Isaac Githinji, says that like other vendors in the city, he is spreading the message.  He says he doesn't want to see his fellow countrymen killing each other, as they did in the violence that followed the 2007 election.

“This Valentine's is special for Kenya," said Githinji. "It's coming at the period when we are preparing for elections, so that we can send the peaceful message, a message of peace to Kenyans.  We are connecting [the] Valentine theme with a voting theme.”   

Dennis Ngetich and Lewis Kariuki are workmates and best of friends.  At this Nairobi flower shop, Kariuki is advising Ngetich what type of flower to buy for his girlfriend.

The only problem for them as Kenyans is that they are from different tribes.  Ngetich is a Kalenjin and Kariuki is a Kikuyu.  In the tribal violence that swept across Kenya in early 2008, Kariuki's community had to flee from their homes in the Rift Valley and hundreds lost their lives.

Ngetich, an information technology consultant, tells VOA this year’s Valentine message should be to all Kenyans.  

“All the other Valentines, the message were the same," said Ngetich. "It was narrowed down to specific people -- you know my mum, my sister, and my wife to be.  But this Valentine everything is entangled together -- my family, my friends, and my fellow Kenyan citizens.”

Kariuki, who is also an IT consultant, says he has never discussed issues with his friend Ngetich on the basis of tribe.  

“The thing about me and Dennis is that we never come to a point of talking about tribal grounds because we are, as they say, two heads are better than one," said Kariuki. "It never says that two heads of different tribes or two heads of the same tribe are better than one.”

Kenya’s last general elections in 2007 were marred by post-election violence, much of it between ethnic groups, in which more than 1,100 people were killed and more than 600,000 displaced from their homes.

Ngetich says after elections he hopes Kenyans will stop tribal-based politics and dealings.

“Tanzania has 145 tribes, Kenya we are just 42, [and] there has never been violence in Tanzania," said Ngetich. "So I think in Kenya this is the time, it's [the] right time that we are going to do away with the tribal nature of dealing with issues.  I think starting from March 4th things will change.”

Flower vendors and many others in Kenya hope Ngetich's prediction comes true, and the country experiences love and peace, especially on election day, March 4.

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs