Launched in July with a ‘Champions walk for peace’ by some of the World’s greatest athletes to help raise funds for the Aegis Trust to establish a school for peace in Kenya’s troubled North Rift Valley, the Kenya peace torch relay has travelled over 3,500 miles across Kenya, the UK and USA in 2015 with marathon stars and ultra-running champions. Now record-breaking endurance runner Adam Holland is bringing the relay to UK schools and the Great British public for 2016.
In a short film to promote the relay (see above), narrated by actor Clare-Hope Ashitey, Kenyans in the North Rift Valley talk about the impact of a rising wave of ethnic violence, centred on cattle-rustling and land disputes between the Turkana and Pokot, which has left 600 people dead and driven over 435,000 from their homes since the start of 2014, according to UN figures.
As the relay passed through the conflict-affected area, however, people from all sides began to focus on the possibility of a different approach: from warriors to schoolchildren, many joined the athletes carrying the torch. “The Pokot and the Turkana come together and all of them talk about peace,” one local headteacher said. “This is the first time I have seen it.”
Carried by the likes of Wilson Kipsang, Tegla Loroupe, Ezekiel Kemboi and Britain’s own ‘Marathon Man UK’ Rob Young (given Monaco’s prestigious accolade of ‘Peace & Sport Champion of the Year’ through an online public vote following his role in the relay), the torch will go to schools around the UK wishing to host the relay during the 2016 spring term. Students will raise sponsorship to take part in 100 x 100m relays with the torch, while Adam Holland aims to beat each student relay team over the full 10km. “Try to make it quick,” says Holland in a special edit of the film for participating schools (http://www.walkforpeace.co.ke/schools-relay/), “because I’ll be there to race you.”
For the public there will be a ten-day, 1000-kilometre relay from 10th to 19th June 2016, involving a hundred teams each running – or walking – 10km with the torch. The Aegis Trust is currently crowd-sourcing the route (which Holland aims to complete in full) – so if you’re looking for a challenge for 2016, get involved now at www.w4p.org. It could make all the difference for young people in Northern Kenya who might otherwise be sucked into ethnic violence or become refugees.
“What Aegis has done, it’s fantastic,” says Ambassador Jackline Yonga, Kenya’s Deputy High Commissioner in London, who received the torch following the UK leg of the relay in 2015. “It’s very good for Kenya because we know peace is very beneficial to any development agenda. I would urge everybody who’s out there to come and join Aegis for a very worthy cause.”