Samburu program participants and facilitators.
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Blossoming Peace in Samburu
Ezra Kigondu, Samburu Coordinator
Alternatives to Violence Program (Kenya) – Trust
Samburu Program Report – June to August 2017
Testimony 1: My name is Peter. I was born in Samburu Wamba and married to a Boran woman [a tribe in southern Ethiopia and northeastern Kenya]. I served as a police officer for ten years.
In the year 2006 there was a serious drought in our region which forced us to look for pasture in the Boran area. I had 300 animals and my two boys were looking after them. While they were in the area of the Borans, they were attacked by Boran raiders and were killed. When the news reached me about their death I had to request for a two-week leave to know exactly what happened. I was so angered by this incident because as we are talking now I have never seen even the grave of my boys. It’s really painful. Because of the bitterness that I had, I planned for retaliation together with the community warriors. It was on a Wednesday. I can remember very well at 10 p.m. that we entered the village of Gabra and took all their animals, approximately 2000 animals and killed 12 people. This memory is still fresh in my mind. I also divorced my Boran wife because of this.
But today I want to thank the conveners of this AVP training as it has helped me realize that everyone is God’s creation and there is something good in him/her. During the discussion on forgiveness I understood that it’s me who was carrying the burden of anger. From today henceforth I have forgiven my oppressors and am going to negotiate with the elders for the return of my wife. I am indeed grateful to have attended this training and thank you, the trainers. We are so many who are experiencing such problems and we need these trainings.
Facilitator Fred Amwoka holding a gun used for protection.
Testimony 2: An area chief: Before the introduction of guns, there were spears and pangas [machetes]. Every evening the cows and goats of a pastoralist were protected from wild animals. Raiders used the spears and pangas. Cattle raiding was a traditional practice carried out by one community against the other. Raiding was a communal affair. Although the young men carried out the raids, they did so on behalf of their community. The elders would decide when and where a raid would take place. The young women would sing songs of praise that made the warriors feel brave and determined and ready for action. The older women would have received the stolen animals and milk them.
It was probably inevitable that guns would reach the area. They were brought in from neighboring countries by people who for political or financial reasons thought it a good idea. At first families were persuaded to buy guns for protection purposes not knowing that the guns would be used to kill their own people with whom they have lived for years.
The introduction of guns has changed the complex traditional social system into something that we cannot comprehend. As administrators we are also targets of these guns. We are killed every now and then because we are perceived as traitors of the communities. Guns have caused a lot of animosity between the communities which lived in peace with the government. To initiate change we need to revisit is this whole culture of guns because it has made my people not to respect law enforcers and that’s why you hear police officer being killed. Everything is behind the introduction of the guns.
In the harsh conditions and beautiful landscape of northern Kenya where the plateau drops thousands of feet into the Rift Valley, three communities – the Samburu, Pokot and Turkana – graze their cows, goats and camels. Over the years occasional cattle raids would disturb the peace, but the 2003-4 drought and guns coming in from neighboring countries brought in new levels of tension and killings and escalated revenge attacks between tribes.
Samburu is largely a pastoral area, beset by human and food insecurity. The sudden increase in the availability of small arms in addition to periodic droughts, declining natural resources – particularly pasture and water, the very lifeline of pastoralist communities – as well as poorly defined resource management and access systems, and limited investment in social services and development contributed to the increase in cattle raiding and cycles of violent retaliation. Alternative to Violence Project (Kenya)–Trust (AVP-Trust) with support from the American Friends Service Committee-Kenya developed a series of conflict sensitive initiatives to respond to the crisis. These have led to the establishment of inter–community peace and development committees and an early warning response systems. The committees have helped in recovering stolen animals hence reducing revenge attacks. There has been a considerable reduction in the cycles of violence after these interventions.
PART 2: PROGRAMS
Session with warriors [morans] and young ladies.
- Alternative to Violence Workshops:
In July two AVP workshops were conducted – one in Samburu East with 12 males and 8 females and the second in Samburu West with 14 males and 6 females. The workshops targeted youth, church leaders, and community elites. These trainings focused on redirecting the energies of the youth to uphold the philosophy of non-violence.
Possible solutions to the problems affecting the community recorded during the AVP training. Note the topics: Moranism (the youth as warriors), FGM (female genital mutilation), and forced marriage (marriage of very young girls to much older men).
- Help Increase the Peace Program:
A baseline survey for Help Increase the Peace Program (HIPP) was conducted in eleven schools in Samburu with 15 male students, 17 female students, 7 male teachers, and 9 female teachers. The background issues for the survey were
- Conflicts in Samburu schools are latent but particularly visible during a cultural event
- Weapons are common in schools hence they are prone to violence
- Conflict fault lines and indicators have been observed in schools
- Schools are in the village and the village is in the schools
- No organized peace structures in most schools
- No confidence and trust in existing conflict resolution systems in schools
- Culture defines the identity of people in a school community
- Students not involved in decision making
- Fear is common place between teachers and students
- Cross Border Dialogues:
Cross Border Dialogue is an initiative in which different communities living close to a common border come together and through dialogue resolve their issues. One interesting agenda item was to have the participants list the negative perceptions of the other group and then after a pause for reflection, have the participants list the positive perceptions of the other group. The end result of each of the three dialogues – one each in the three sub-counties of Samburu County – was the formation of a conflict management committee which would be quickly available to resolve any conflicts that arise in the future.
Objectives of the dialogues:
- To assess the key and emerging conflict dynamics
- To map up peace and security actors (local police, peace committees and any other players)
- To identify, examine and observe early warnings and early responses mechanisms in the sub-counties
- Status of peace: Presence of conflict between Samburu vs Turkana, cattle rustling, political conflicts, and killings
- Eight hot spot areas were identified
- Six peace actors were identified in Samburu County
- Livelihoods e.g. providing tree seedlings, green houses
- Peaceful methods of conflict resolution, i.e. mediation, dialogues, etc.
There is presence of peace committees, but they are dormant
Challenges facing them:
- Lack of funds and transport
- Lack of proper facilitation
- Animosity between warring tribes
- Hilly land terrain
- Lack of response from government when an incidence has been reported
- Footprints of spies
- Change of grazing pastures
- Information from friends from the other side
- Small gatherings of one community
Resolutions during the dialogues:
- If a person is killed on either side, the offender has to pay 100 goats or 50 cows for every person killed
- Agreed to share pasture and water points as a way of unity
- Encourage the young people to intermarry
- Communal celebration always to be done with peace messaging
- Common trade to be established to improve interaction
- Meet frequently before elections
- Involve leaders, e.g. chiefs, county commissioner and district peace committee members
- Conduct peace caravans targeting specific people
- Improve operating phone networks
- Cooperate with Kenyan police
- Listen to the grievances of the youths
- Network and collaborate with other actors doing similar activities
- Ask the government to support the initiative
- Proper funding of peace committees
- Trainings should be conducted and target people from the warring communities, g. morans
- Frequent stakeholders’ meetings
- Security agents should not be biased and be timely in acting when called
- Samburu Peace Caravan:
Peace caravans are an intensive exercise aimed at promoting an ideology of peace during a certain undertaking like an election or any other activity that has a potential for conflict. Its aimed is to inform the community on the importance of upholding peace during an event with its main aim to reach a large population. One peace caravan was conducted in Maralal with 40 men and 60 women.
Objectives of the Samburu caravan:
- Encourage the population to promote peace with their neighbouring communities through peace initiative i.e. dialogues, mediation, etc.
- The community to take up active citizen engagements roles and maintain vigilance on issues of social accountability
- The importance of upholding peaceful 2017 elections
Observations during the caravan
- The government was very supportive to this idea of promoting a peaceful election
- The churches around were very willing and participated actively in the event
- Both gender participated in the event
Demolished gate of a school after violence
Observations on the trainings/dialogues:
- Hospitable and friendly community if not aggrieved
- Secretive and not easy to open up especially when discussing things affecting the community directly
- Participation by women was limited due to cultural factors
- Group work and role plays helped in breaking the ice and facilitated bonding and increased level of interaction
- Use of local facilitators increased understanding among the locals as most of the participants did not understand Swahili or English
- The level of illiteracy is still high in the region
Planning was also done before the start of each day and daily evaluations helped in designing plans and agendas. After each day, a debriefing session was done among the facilitators. Strengths and weaknesses of the day were pointed out to help work on weaknesses and empower strengths for the success of the whole process. Below is facilitation dynamics encountered:
- Planning was well done each day including the content and method of delivery and debriefs were included at the end of each day
- The challenge of communication among facilitators on when to give an input leading to interruption from facilitators suddenly bumping in.
- Facilitators giving so many personal examples thus taking the opportunity away from the primary participants
- Inability to communicate with each other without interrupting the process
- Creativity and innovativeness in content delivery
- Engaging everyone in the whole process
- Flexibility was highly observed according to needs that arose in the process
- Limited time for training
- Communication breakdown during facilitation
- Vastness of the area
- Cultural alignments
- Community expectations
- Lack of commitments from trained community resource persons
- Causes of violence are mainly cultural
- Women too like their male counterpart play a role in the violence
- Women have started taking up and owning leadership roles especially in community services
- Not all believers have fixed minds – all they need is correct interpretation of things to open their minds
- Facilitators need to be helped on how to work as a team
- The need for creativity and innovations is essential in handling cultural violence
- Inclusion of gender mainstreaming and shared security aspect in any of the trainings
- Hold quarterly resource people gatherings to enhance sharing of experiences among the different regions
- Conduct facilitator refresher training at least bi-annually to maintain the quality of the program
- Equip facilitators with other peace building skills and programs to mold all around facilitators
- The manuals needs to be revised to suit the needs of the community and put into the Kenyan context
- Networking with other peace actors to build synergy and learn from others
- Need to have inter community livelihood projects to enhance prosperity
Part V: Way Forward
Comments by David Zarembka: This report indicates a tremendous start in resolving major deadly violence issues in Samburu. Working directly with and earning the respect of the morans themselves – in addition to the government officials, police, and other leaders – the basic foundation for successful intercession in the violence in Samburu has been established. Ezra Kigondu would very much like to continue this project and build on its success. In particular as next steps Ezra would like to
- Build a constructive relationship between the morans and police who now only see each other as enemies with frequently killings of police by the morans and morans by the police.
- Since the introduction of guns in the culture has led to the violence, conduct Healing and Rebuilding Our Community (HROC) workshops with those traumatized by events.
- Build on the cross border dialogues in order to bring peace between warring communities, particularly, at this time with Baringo and Laikipia counties.
If you would like to support this next phrase of the Samburu project please make contributions as noted below under “Donate” and mark the contribution for “TCSC-Samburu.” Ezra would appreciate your support.
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From 1998 to 2016, David Zarembka was the Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams. He continues his peacemaking work in East Africa with Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC) and Friends Church Peace Team (FCPT). He has been involved with East and Central Africa since 1964 when he taught Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. David is married to Gladys Kamonya and lives in western Kenya. David is the author of A Peace of Africa: Reflections on Life in the Great Lakes Region. He is an analyst on eastern Africa issues for TVC News in Lagos, Nigeria.
Transforming Community for Social Change (TCSC)
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya
Phone 254 (0)726 590 783
Reports from Kenya: www.davidzarembka.com/