Kenya running champions begin march for peace

2015-07-15 16:35
Wilson Kipsang (File: AFP)

Wilson Kipsang (File: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nairobi - Top Kenyan athletes including former world marathon record holders Wilson Kipsang and Tegla Loroupe set off on Wednesday on a 22-day "Walk for Peace" against ethnic violence, organisers said.

Cattle rustling and revenge killings between rival communities are common in Kenya's remote and impoverished northern regions, an area awash with automatic weapons.

The 836km  walk is being organised by former Commonwealth marathon champion John Kelai, who is marching in memory of three of his uncles killed in cattle raids when he was a teenager.

Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie is expected to join the final stages of the walk, due to end on August 6.

"When people are being killed and driven from their homes, it is a tragedy for all of us," Gebrselassie said, in a statement released by the walk organisers.

Ethiopia borders northern Kenya, and armed cattle herders launch raids either side of the porous frontier.

The marathon march began in the northern Kenyan town of Lodwar in the volatile Turkana region, heading south for some 40 kilometres every day through the vast Rift Valley to Lake Bogoria.

'Saving lives'

The athletes carried an Olympic-style torch, which will be passed from walker to walker as they trek southwards through some of Kenya's most volatile regions.

"We are going to inspire and engage the young people from the divided communities and help to break the cycle of violence," Kelai, the 2010 Commonwealth marathon gold medallist, said in a statement.

Former world marathon champions Paul Tergat, Kenyan Olympic steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi and Uganda's reigning Olympic and world marathon champion, Stephen Kiprotich, have also said they will take part in the walk.

Kiprotich comes from Uganda's border areas with Kenya, which suffers from cattle rustling and violence.

"Running has brought me a lot of championships, fame, accolades, but what it has not brought me is peace," Kelai added.

"When I was 13 years of age I lost my three uncles, they were killed by cattle rustlers."

The athletes, who are encouraging people to join them in their walk, hope to raise over $250 000 to fund a peace-building programme, said the Aegis Trust, which works to rebuild communities riven by conflict, notably in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide.

Aegis Trust, which is helping organise the walk, said the programme "will engage at least 10 000 young people at risk of being drawn into the ethnic violence, saving lives".

In May, some 75 people were killed in just four days of cattle raids and revenge attacks.

Last year at least 310 people were killed and more than 220 000 fled their homes as a result of inter-communal conflicts attributed to competition over land and water resources, cattle rustling, and struggles over political representation, according to the United Nations.

Read more on:    kenya  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.