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The inaugural National Initiation Rites Conference organized by the African Character Initiation Program (ACIP) in collaboration with the Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc. (TWCF) was held between 23 and 25 July 2017 in Nairobi. The conference, whose theme was “The Making of a Kenyan: Towards National Identity and Character Virtues” was characterized by robust engagements. Adopting the workshop model ensured participation of all in attendance. Indeed, it was a great gathering of people whose experiences are key in setting agenda for the current and next generation.
The conference was also a great forum for interaction of ideas and formulation of thoughts, principles and directions that might suggest a better kind of a human being; a better Kenyan.
Because of the diversity of participants, the clash of ideas the discussions generated was positive as it was an eye-opener on how wide and varied our view on rites of passage can be.
The fact that parents and other stakeholders could meet in this conference to discuss the welfare and future of their children is essentially a noble initiative. However, it would be great if more and more voices of the youth could be brought on board in such consequent meetings.
Another unique aspect of the conference is that the facilitation included a full-time sign interpreter. One alumnus of the ACIP alumni present has hearing challenges and therefore benefited immensely from these services.
The conference brought together participants from various Christian denominations and institutions—Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), Reformed Church of East Africa (RCEA), Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA), Tanari Trust, The Navigators, and others.
During the conference, participants shared experiences in panel presentations and group discussions. As such, the conference was a platform for interaction of experiences from different parts of Kenya. Indeed, the conference drew participants from various counties, who told captivating stories on rites of passage. To display the rich diversity, the last evening of the conference was a cultural show, where the participants showcased fashion and music from various Kenyan communities. Representatives from the UK also got an opportunity to share their cultural experiences in terms of music and dress.
The ACIP conference also provided a great opportunity for linkage between the University and the community. The ACIP founders are university professors—Pamela Abuya, Eunice Kamaara, Joyce Nyairo, Mary Wahome, Emily Choge and the late Naomi Shitemi—who have pushed boundaries, moving beyond the lecture theatre to share knowledge with the community. In collaboration with the Department of Literature, Theatre and Film Studies of Moi University, ACIP has embarked on a project of archiving and disseminating the diverse experiences of rites of passage from different counties through a documentary film titled “The Rite Passage.”
We applaud the superb organization of this inaugural conference by the conveners. Indeed, bringing together participants drawn from the different parts of Kenya, as well as partners from the UK, the USA, is no mean feat. The venue of the conference—Maanzoni Lodge—was an ideal choice in terms of location, accommodation and exquisite catering services.

Compiled by Dr. Samuel Ndogo