Florida priest working for peace in Kenya

The St. Petersburg Times reports on the work of the Rev. John Kivuva, 45, a priest at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church and part-time chaplain at St. Anthony’s Hospital.

Kivuva left St. Petersburg for what was to be a two- to three-week visit to his former homeland. He planned to meet with Somali and Sudanese refugees on behalf of a group he helped to found in Kenya, supported by the Mennonite and Episcopal churches and others. He also was to speak to young people at an Anglican convention in Mai-Mahiu outside Nairobi.

He managed to do both before Kenya’s Dec. 27 elections erupted into a national crisis. The conflict began with an announcement that President Mwai Kibaki, of the powerful Kikuyu tribe, had been re-elected.

Father John Kivuva Mwiya is back home now, safe, reunited with his wife and children. But his mind is troubled. At night, sleep comes slowly. Better get some counseling, he’s been told. He is just back from Kenya, his former homeland, where he was caught up in bloody postelection violence. Disturbing images are burned into his brain:

Gunfire, violent mobs, the murder of civilians, terrified and hungry refugees. Perhaps worst, he watched as two men were dragged from his car and tortured on the side of the road. Though Kenya is relatively calm today, with the rival political parties announcing a power sharing Cabinet earlier this week, the unrest took at least 1,200 lives. The toll is likely higher, since some were killed in rural areas, and those bodies may never be found. Tens of thousands fled or lost their homes.

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