Photo by: Global Centre for Pluralism
“The pleasure of seeing communities talking to each other once again is satisfying.”
These are the words of Alice Nderitu, the cofounder of the Uwiano Platform for Peace and Act! board member who was awarded the Global Pluralism Award for her exemplary work in promoting peaceful co-existence among communities in Kenya and Nigeria.
The award sponsored by Global Centre for Pluralism was founded by His Highness the Aga Khan in partnership with the Government of Canada. The inaugural Global Pluralism Award recognizes outstanding individuals, societies and governments for their outstanding achievement in supporting inclusive societies worldwide.
“It is an incredible honor and although our work is far from over, the feats we have scored here and elsewhere are not in vain. The spectacle I have caused in Nigeria as a first woman mediator has been thrilling,” said Mrs Nderitu while acknowledging the award.
Ms Nderitu who is also a former National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) member has spent years mediating conflict between rival communities in Nigeria. In Kenya, she spearheaded the UWIANO platform during the 2010 referendum. Since then, the crowd sourcing platform has been used as an early warning, early response system to avert potential threats to peace especially during elections.
At an announcement in Nairobi on Friday ahead of the actual ceremony in Ottawa on November 15, Nderitu was celebrated as one of Kenya’s unsung heroines by family, government officials, elders and activists.
Canada’s High Commissioner to Kenya Sara Hradecky lauded Ms Nderitu for her role in brokering peace processes in Africa.
“She has successfully mediated peace processes in Kenya and Nigeria and against great odds. Her style is exceptional in terms of her desire to promote diversity. She deserves our utmost respect and I truly admire her strength and conviction,” Ms Hradecky noted.
Nderitu’s colleague at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue Meredith Preston-McGhie said the ex-NCIC commissioner has a unique capacity to win trust in both high and low places.
“She does not approach it from the point of sharing the cake. She approaches it from the point of making a bigger cake for all to share. She’s a unique peace-maker,” said Preston-McGhie.
The former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark described Mrs Nderitu as a “peacemaker, conflict mediator and gender equality advocate” par excellence while adding that “Her values-based approach helps parties to envision a viable alternative to conflict. She has led them to appreciate diversity, allowing the interests, values and participation of different groups to be respected. Her example offers a much-needed path forward for the many ongoing conflicts around the world.”
In 2015, Nderitu mediated an armed conflict among 29 ethnic communities in Southern Kaduna Nigeria. Last year, she moved to Nigeria’s Southern Plateau where she was the lead mediator in an inclusive dialogue between 56 ethnic communities.
Ms Nderitu is also part of the group of volunteers working behind the scenes to avert violence in the upcoming presidential elections in Kenya.