Understanding pastoralist conflicts and insecurity in Kenya. I am conscious of the fact that many writers or researchers have written widely about this subject.
BY AUGUSTINE LOKWANG
I am conscious of the fact that many writers or researchers have written widely about this subject.
However, much of that work is superficial or too academic than local and pinned down socio-cultural specifics that would objectively and directly establish local conflict and security problems/drivers and their corresponding local solutions to prevent/mitigate or to de-escalate perpetual conflict whose peak manifestations have been the Baragoi (Samburu), and Kapedo/ Kakong’u (Turkana), brazen bandit attacks in northern Kenya.
Other related and in similar context would be the Pokomo-Orma violent conflict of August 2012 whose epicentre was Reketa area of Tarassa, notably one party (The Orma) manifestly presented identical features commonplace in
Northern Kenya, associated with raids, rustling, banditry, that contextualize to be characteristically quasi-pastoral conflict/insecurity.
The problem we have had has been missed real and key local issues/problems and drivers of pastoralist conflict/insecurity. I would say the problem of missed real local issues has been historical. It began with the first cluster of researchers who collected “primary data” on conflict/insecurity issues in urban centres of these counties, towns such as Maralal, Kapenguria, Marigat, Isiolo, Marsabit, Lodwar to base their understanding of conflict and security challenges of those pastoralist counties.
All other follow on researchers/scholars on this subject area of research have been regurgitating academic findings influenced by the work of the first cluster of scholars/researchers. Therefore, data on this conflict has been erratic or
misrepresentation of the local issues in one way or another and demands historical review.
Authentic, quality, unbiased and people-centred primary data exists in areas beyond pastoral towns. I say that
because most towns essentially represent to large extent opinionated elites fanning the conflict, and the towns are he places where elites live in these counties.ç
My strongest opinion in this article is that objective perspectives/accounts of the key drivers of pastoral conflict/insecurity is with the kraal elders, the herders, women and children directly affected by the violence and hostilities associated with the bloody raids, banditry and cattle rustling.
Elites, whom most researchers mostly target to participate in their field research as questionnaires respondents,focus groups discussants and key informants are only but wrong place wrong incidents victims (when caught in raids) or the indirectly affected by the effects of raids/banditry.
Most researchers have not effectively worked hard to reach or have had difficulty to access because of the conflict/insecurity itself, the rugged, remote, difficult, inaccessible, and reserve areas these kraals are essentially located. As such, most field researchers on conflict/insecurity terminate in the said urban centres, and the correct perspective are
never captured in the final findings which would normally be presented as expert position on the pastoral conflict/security.
It is therefore my conviction, that enabling fellow practicing security professionals better understand pastoralist conflict and insecurity through writing local and traditional dynamics beyond commonplace casual/superficial mentioning of terms such as raids, rustling,banditry, etc. will provide them an indepth understanding of the conflict to enable them facilitate sound decision making by those who rely on their advice to make business, organizational decisions.
As an example,
I will endeavour to split up and comprehensively discuss the term “Raid” into a conduit chain of
parties (Raiding parties, raiding parties patrol bases/launching pads, livestock transporters from the pastoralist areas,
the livestock dealers, the ready buyers/market, the high status facilitators, etc.), that will illustrate the complex and geographically spanning conflict and insecurity challenges of pastoralist people and counties, indicating to you how local and external layers of conflict drivers reinforce each other and make conflict/insecurity intractable.
I certainly trust that providing you such comprehensive knowledge on the said dynamics will be extremely helpful
in the course of you discharging your security advisory and other conflict and security-related roles and responsibilities in the pastoralist counties/areas of your interest.
Augustine Lokwang, Capt(Rtd) is a security consultant and researcher.