Scaling Up

John Katunga 

Nairobi Peace Initiative (NPI); also serves on the advisory board of Partners for Democratic Change

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

It's very difficult and maybe that is one of the challenges, but as we say and only if you are Christian, if you read the bible they know the metaphor that is used, that if somebody was just sowing the grains and you are going to a ?feeling? in sowing grains. Some of the grain went just outside, it didn't fall in the field, others went to the rocks, and others went to really fertile ground. The grains that went to the rocks were eaten, and they died because they didn't find the ground, they rotted, and they were finally eaten by insects. Those that went to the fertile ground grew and became plants that made more grains. It's the same metaphor that we use. We start with a large group of people, with the expectation that a few of them will change in the process, those few will be like the fertilizer that will pick up the process, and we are very, very sure that that happens because it has happened in the past. It has happened to us ourselves, it can also happen to other people, so we strongly believe in people's ability to change.

Those people who will be changed will be the ones who are now starting what I call the structures. You see them very passionate and working on the issues and if you are very successful, it might be somebody very highly positioned and you find huge amount of decision making powers and they make a difference globally, but that is not always the case. It is a slow process, but as slow as it is, it is transformative. There are those few people who will be working on a daily basis on those issues and people start seeing the value of the daring of such a new found ideology, or philosophy of peace. By the time you see a structure image, you know already that that structure has a vision and is working now on a larger scale. You need individuals' transformation for communities to transform because communities are built by individuals; that's how you make the linkage, but it's not mathematical, or mechanical, it's that person and that person. Sometimes very unexpected persons will bring about peace through changes. Sometimes the most radical are the less vocal, and sometimes it's both. It depends on circumstances, situations, and context, but there is that aspect of the work that is unpredictable.

We go with that metaphor, I will do the best that I can, I will deliver the best that I can, I am sure that somebody who listens to me if all hearted may be touched, and thus changed. The process of change can bring about the overall change of society, so that's how we work, but through intermittent levels. For example, if you are working with members of parliament, a few of them may change, but you also work with communities, where the members of the communities are coming from. If that person, who changed at the community level, meets the member of the parliament at the high level, the meeting point is fantastic, because there is a complete harmony of understanding and the ablufication of the results.

In the intermediary level, you also have people who you train and give them the spirit, impact the spirit in that dialogue, so they can pick up the spirit and integrate the spirit downwards and upwards and create this holistic change, for example the result of elections in Kenya. People can argue but it's the the tremendous work of the civil society at all levels, and nobody can pinpoint and say it is my work that created this, but everybody can be the father of the peace and success of elections. Everybody can say, yes, I did it. Humanitarian organizations, peace organizations, churches. Everybody worked together, it was a holistic endeavor that we have integrated all levels from community to middle class to leadership top level.