From: joachim omolo ouko
News Dispatch with Father Omolo Beste
TUESDAY, AUGUST 26, 2014
The inter-clan conflict in Mandera did not start yesterday. It has been going on since independence. In 1980s former president Moi thought it was due to boundary demarcation. He then though by curving Mandera Central constituency out from the then larger Mandera East following devastating clan clashes between Murrule and Garre clans in early 1980’s was going to solve the problem.
The fact that Mandera Triangle region comprises of the Gedo region in Somalia, the Doolow region in Ethiopia, and the Mandera district in Kenya, can explain why the conflict. The social groups involved include the major Somali and bilingual Somali- Oromo clans of the Gabaweyn (Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia), the Degodia (Kenya and Ethiopia), the Murrule (Kenya), the Marehan (Somalia), and the Garre (Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia), as well as the other Somali- and Oromo-speaking clans.
These groups, who together form the populations of Mandera, Doolow and Gedo districts, are closely linked by geography and a shared social system, by religious and clan ties, and by commercial links and interests that stretch deep into the border areas of the three countries and beyond.
That explains why, with Mandera Central constituency formed, the issue of political representation was solved but another problem was born. There emerged growing hatred and suspicion between the two clans.
During Moi regime more than 330 people were killed according to the Truth commission. Survivors, testifying before the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission at its hearings in Mandera Town, said scores of people were also raped and maimed during the 1982 security operation.
They were rounded up by security officers hunting down bandits, beaten and some shot dead as they attempted to escape. Up to now the government of Kenya has never addressed the issue, this make the Mandera residents to believe they are not part of the government. In fact the entire Northern Kenya feels the same.
The truth however, is that over the years, Kenyan government has ignored Kenyan people from the North Eastern. The government has treated these people as second class citizens and used draconian law that has seen thousands dead, thousands widowed and thousands left orphans.
Moi in particular used them as tools for winning elections. The Kenyan government has neglected them apparently because the natives have been ‘forced’ to be Kenyans. Given brief background above, the government of Kenya believes the people of North Eastern were made to join Kenya without their consent because when the Kenya government waged what is called the bandit or shift war in 1963 majority of the people of N.E province could have been happy to be allowed to join their brothers and sisters in Somalia.
Since then Northern Kenya has always been associated with suffering, poverty, starvation and lack of infrastructure. The residents of this area have time and again said that they are not part of Kenya and believe that the government has forgotten them.
Currently, northern Kenya is facing a major drought after rains failed with locals starving and relying on food aid from a broad, particularly from USA. Kenyan government is not interested in giving food aid other than using them as a tool for elections.
When the foreign food delays residents are forced to eat wild fruits which are poisonous, they boil these fruits for hours to remove the poison before they consume it. The food shortage has reached alarming levels to the extent that children cannot go to school. School feeding programmes are not adequate to feed the very hungry children.
Furthermore, Mandera County is awash with guns due to its proximity to Somalia, where al Shabaab has been fighting to topple the government, and Ethiopia, where the armed Oromo Liberation Front has made incursions into the country. Garre, a cushitic people is found in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. They are estimated to be 700,000 persons living in Kenya.
Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ
Tel +254 7350 14559/+254 722 623 578