The media has gone wild with the current news of the killing of a British ranch owner in Laikipia. Blames run wild on who or what led to the killing. Some say its political, while others believe its due to scacity of resources made worse by the drought thats currently affecting most parts of the country. Still some blame the culture of cattle rustling and the general laxity on the part of the government to provide security.
So we know the problem or problems. What are the mitigation factors that can be employed in order to root out the problem right from its source.
Maybe we should look at the problems one by one and how they have been delt with before in other places.I am not an expert but will give by opinion from my point of view.
Culturally this pastrolist communities believe that wealth is in livestock, the more you have the more respect you earn and if you do not have alot, then go get some from your neighbour, I mean steal. Another problem is that one cannot get a wife without livestock and the practise for some is part of the Initiation program to manhood.
I once met a youngman from one of these communities who now works as a Dj in a club in Nairobi. He says after circumsion the graduants must carry out a successful cattle raid to complete their initiation.He carried out this with his agemates, they succeeded in getting about 3 thousand cattle, but lost some of his friends during the raid.
He could not live that life anymore, so when he saw a truck full of cattle he got in within the cattle and took the rigourous journey to Nairobi never to practise that cultural activity again. This shows that there are some within the community who would like to get out of that lifestyle.
Lets consider the Maasai, its common knowledge that Nairobi was their battle ground with the Kikuyus. The battles were mainly due to the need for territory expansion and cattle rusttling. They do not practise that any more. Why?
They learnt other economical activities that raise wealth and respect other than lifestock. And other assets can be used as dowry.Can the same be done to the nothern communities. Can the government come up with various economic activities that the people can angage in. Why not implement the numerous proposed Irrigation schemes that I personally have been involved in their designs. This design reports for the past five years lie in the offices of National Irrigation Board and Ministry of Agriculture collecting dust on the shelves.
Some of the individuals would love to engage in other activities like farming and they have shown their interest clearly by the support they provide when we visit in order to carry out surveys.By engaging in other activities they stop being on the bull’s-eye of their neighbouring communities.
As a child I read stories of how the Pokots raided Luhyas. It does not happen anymore. And this is because Luhyas concentrate on crop farming and other activities. Problem solved.
Still on the Maasai, how did they stop the culture of killing lions and other wild animals to mark their entry into adulthood. What did the government, NGOs and other community based organizations do to help stop that practise. Can the same be done in Nothern Kenya. My guess would be education. What’s yours.
But what if heinous business people hide behind cattle rustling as a cultural activity when its actually done to boost the banditry economy. I mean what if its done by an organized crime syndicate that provides ammunition and send young men to steal cattle for their slaughter houses. Or encourage the practise by providing a ready market and protection from persecution.
In this case its the government mandate to investigate and ensure that this criminal activity is stopped completely.
As we raid Laikipia and arrest all that we think were involved in the killing, lets look at the root problem and address it from their. It will do us no good if we cut a few branches that will be replaced by others in no time.