INTER ETHNIC AND ELECTION CONFLICT ; MARGINALISATION DOMINATE BARINGO FINAL HEARINGS
The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission held second and final day of public hearings at Government Training Institute, Kabarnet on 25th October 2011. The presiding chair of the session was Commissioner Margaret Shava.
Other leaders present were Baringo East MP and Assistant Minister for Higher Education Mr. Asman Kamama, Commissioner Dr. Samuel Tororei of Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Commissioner Lawrence Bomet of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission. The day’s hearings marked the end of TJRC hearings in Rift Valley region.
The first witness of the day was Reverend John Nambair who presented a memorandum on behalf of the Pokot community. Issues featured included discrimination, denial of basic rights and extra judicial killings. Rev. Nambair traced the first formal attack on the Pokot by the Turkana to 1967. He added that the losses and desolation accrued from the incident was the foundation for subsequent strained relations between the two communities. Rev. Nambair claimed that Kenya’s post colonial state favoured Turkanas and mocked Pokots.
“In 1979, the Pokots began acquiring small arms for defence and retaliation. At one time former President Moi mocked the Pokots in a public baraza, saying “ Ni nani ndume sasa!” ( who is a matador between the two clashing communities!)” Rev. Nambair recalled.
He added that former President Moi might have used the ‘dume’ remark referring to a bull, so as to spite Pokots, and to show that he could avenge against the community for real and perceived wrongs.
Reverend Nambair refuted common prejudice against the Pokot as a war-mongering and blood thirsty community.
“None of us agrees with what the bandits do; we are a peace-loving people”, asserted Rev. Nambair. He said that the Pokot community was still ravaged by Kenya’s pre-independence enemies, namely- poverty, ignorance and disease.
Messrs. Kosgey Bundotich and Kibet Maindi, who both lost relatives in the post election violence, were of the view that police culpability should have necessitated theirs and similar cases to be heard at ICC. Mr. Bundotich tabled a bullet at the hearings, which he said killed his brother.
“My brother was killed by the police while he was moving his family during the violence,” he testified.
Mr. Julius Kipruto Bett told the hearing that his pleas on insecurity to the local police during the post election violence in Nakuru East District went unheeded. The violence led to massive property losses.
Mr. Peter Kagathi spoke on behalf of Kikuyu IDPs in Koibatek on discrimination, denial of basic rights, land injustices, injuries and marginalisation.
“At least 20 Kikuyu were killed in Eldama Ravine during the 2007/2008 post election violence in which property was lost and families were displaced. We were systematically eased out of the lucrative timber industry and were persecuted because of our ethnic background,” claimed Mr. Kagathi.
He added that the community in Maji Mazuri was ostracised for ‘seceding’ from Kenya at the height of February the Eighteenth Revolutionary Army (FERA) politics, processed in Bungoma and Mt. Elgon. – FERA was the guerrilla wing of the purported 1990’s February the Eighteenth Movement that had its base in Uganda. Mr. Kagathi recommended resettlement of all Maji Mazuri IDPs, provision of shelter and property rights for the people, saying,” we have been here for seventy years, it is our land, any other claim should be revoked.” He also recommended building of a monument in honour of those who died in Maji Mazuri during post election violence of 2007/2008 claiming that the area was now home to 10,000 residents down from about 13,000 before the violence.
Ms. Margaret Lenapunya presented a memorandum on Ilchamus IDPs. Ms. Lenapunya broke down as she testified about rapes and other violations against women in the area.
Mr. Charles Lochu on behalf of Turkana IDPs in Baringo Count, claimed that the Turkanas were evicted from Kapedo by Pokots and traced the conflict between the two communities to 1950. Mr. Lochu recommended resettlement, claiming that the Yetoi Group Ranch wanted to evict the Ilchamus IDPs from Marigat where they had lived since 1980.
Mr. Dickson Mbagany presented a memorandum on Ilchamus IDPs in Kampi Ya Samaki who he claimed were also evicted by the Pokots.
“If the government is unable to help us, give us the greenlight and resources to proceed to the UN, and if this fails, allow us to return, construct a dam and poison those who would profit from our misery,” said a belligerent Mbagany.
Local MP Asman Kamama blamed insecurity in the area on police laxity asserting that the Pokots were at peace with their neighbouring communities of Tugen, Marakwet, Turkana, Samburu and Njemps.
“Pokots are cosmopolitan, we are not expansionists and Turkwell belongs to Pokots.Turkana expansionism might trigger violence next year, Mr. Kamama warned.
Mr. Kamama recommended KShs 30 billion in compensation from the Turkana for livestock lost during raids, KShs 500 million from the Njemps and KShs 15 billion from the Samburu. He added that about 30,000 people had lost their lives in the raids since 1967. Mr. Kamama further recommended that boundary concerns in the area be verified with solid, empirical research and hinted at the need for Kenya Police reserves services to be expanded to Baringo East and research be carried out into the Pokot and Turkana culture of glorifying death and theft.
The MP urged affirmative action to help Pokots catch up with the rest of Kenya in development and warned that the community would sue the Kenya government at the ICC if TJRC recommendations were ignored.
Mr. Kamama promised to support TJRC in the implementation of its recommendations.