LIFE JOUR­NEY

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - TRIBUTE TO KENYA’S HERO -

to head it by Pope John Paul II on April 27, 1990.

Bishop Korir’s book has some of the most chill­ing episodes in a mis­sion­ary’s work. An ex­am­ple is when in 1997 he vis­ited Endo in Marak­wet at the height of the bat­tles be­tween the Marak­wet and the Pokot com­mu­ni­ties.

“We were hav­ing tea. Sud­denly a shootout broke out. When fight­ing fi­nally died down, we found many dead peo­ple ly­ing on the ground and nu­mer­ous oth­ers in­jured. We pro­vided first aid and helped take ca­su­al­ties to the hos­pi­tal,” says he says in his book.

The in­ci­dent served as an eye opener and a wake-up call for the young bishop who promptly be­gun hold­ing a se­ries of peace meet­ings to bring the war­ring com­mu­ni­ties to­gether.

In 2015, Bishop Korir man­aged to bring to­gether lead­ers from the ban­ditry prone coun­ties in the North Rift for peace car­a­vans where they tra­versed the bat­tle fields preach­ing calm, pa­tience and tol­er­ance.

The peace meet­ings dubbed peace car­a­vans brought to­gether gov­er­nors, MPS, Mem­bers of the County Assem­bly (MCAS), re­li­gious and opin­ion lead­ers from Baringo, Turkana, West-pokot and Sam­buru coun­ties.

“He was an un­sung hero whose self­less ac­tions touched many lives. With his pass­ing on, hu­mankind is the poorer,” said chair­man of the coun­cil of gov­er­nors Josphat Nanok.

For­mer In­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion Min­is­ter Henry Kos­gey re­called how Bishop Korir com­forted him af­ter he was named by the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court as one of the six in­di­vid­u­als sus­pected of hav­ing been the mas­ter­minds of the 2007/2008 post-elec­tion vi­o­lence.

For­mer US Am­bas­sador to Kenya Michael Ran­neberger paid trib­ute to Bishop Korir who he de­scribed as a hero and pa­triot.

For his peace-build­ing ef­forts, Bishop Korir was in 2006 awarded the Mo­ran of the Burn­ing Spear by Pres­i­dent Mwai Kibaki. He had ear­lier earned the Milele Life­time Award from the Kenya Na­tional Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights.

In 2012, Moi Uni­ver­sity con­ferred upon him the Hon­orary De­gree of Doc­tor of Let­ters.

Un­til his death, Bishop Korir was the Chair­man of the Kenya Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops (KCCB) and the Catholic Jus­tice and Peace Com­mis­sion (CJPC). He was also the chair­man of the in­ter­faith com­mu­ni­ties un­der the um­brella of the Di­a­logue Ref­er­ence Group (DRG) which com­prises top lead­er­ship of the Catholic Church, Na­tional Coun­cil of Churches in Kenya, Supreme Coun­cil of Kenya Mus­lim, Na­tional Mus­lim Lead­ers Fo­rum, Hindu Coun­cil of Kenya, Evan­gel­i­cal Al­liance of Kenya, Or­ga­ni­za­tion African In­sti­tuted Churches, Sev­enth Day Ad­ven­tist and the Shia Ithna-ash­eri.

It is un­der these aus­pices that Bishop Korir was in the fore­front of call­ing for a cred­i­ble elec­tion in 2017. In the run up to the Au­gust 8 Gen­eral Elec­tion, he sum­moned lead­ers from the North Rift and urged them to be care­ful with their ut­ter­ances to guard against di­vid­ing the coun­try.

“He re­minded us of the 2007/2008 events and told us to en­sure the re­gion does not go back there,” said Jack­son Mandago, the Uasin Gishu gov­er­nor.

Be­fore his death, bishop Korir was ag­i­tat­ing for county gov­ern­ments in con­flict prone re­gions to set aside bud­gets for peace build­ing, call­ing on them to come up with al­ter­na­tive in­come gen­er­at­ing ac­tiv­i­ties for pas­toral­ists to pave the way for sus­tain­able peace.

In his book, Bishop Korir warns that land re­mains an emo­tive is­sue in the North Rift and sug­gests that the gov­ern­ment deals with Agenda Four of the na­tional ac­cord, which deals with is­sues of land and in­clu­siv­ity. Bishop Korir dur­ing a joint thanks­giv­ing ser­vice for of­fi­cers from var­i­ous forces in the North Rift at the Sa­cred Heart of Je­sus Christ Cathe­dral Catholic Church in El­doret in Au­gust 2011.

PHOTO | FILE

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