Friday, 11 January 2013

Northern Kenya: 50 Years After 1963

“And when I speak, I don’t speak as a democrat or a republican or an American. I speak as a victim of the so called democracy. You and I have never seen democracy- all we have seen is hypocrisy. When we open our eyes today and look around America, we see America not through the eyes of someone who has enjoyed the fruits of Americanism. We see America through the eyes of someone who has been the victim of Americanism. We don’t see any American dream. We have experienced only the American nightmare. -- (MALCOM X)
While the Government of the Republic of Kenya and the entire Kenyan fraternity can boast of numbers in economic and social development, the northern part of the country has been stagnant, thanks to the leadership of this great East African nation. One may even wonder whether the so called equal distribution of national resources has any practical meaning when it comes to its application in Kenya. It is on record that immediately after independence, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta took a solemn vow to move this country forward and fight disease, poverty and ignorance. Yet after fifty years of turbulence and struggle on the part of the inhabitants of these impoverished regions, there is nothing to write home about in Turkana, Samburu, Pokot, and Baringo counties, just to name a few. The basic principles of citizen protection on which a larger chunk of the Constitution 2010 is founded on, have not found their way into the priorities of Kenya’s torch-bearers.
The focus and quality of security in northern Kenya, particularly in recent years, has been a subject of extensive debate. The myriads of security problems affecting these regions are more serious than what has been shown by previous data. The communities consider it a high priority, the foundation of their very existence, their constitutional right, and have taken considerable energy to speak out and act on the issue. Government interventions have always remained pedestrian and traditional even after realizing that the security issues of this regions demand innovative approaches. The leadership has failed to atone itself to the fallacious claims that they are elected into office to serve and preserve the interests of Kenyans, poor or rich, marginalized or not, northern or central. Not even in the jungle does the government sit on the fence watching while its citizens- some of whom fought for the independence of the country are butchered by the enemy from yonder as it happened in the Todonyang’ massacre. Failure on the part of the government to deal with the situation in northern Kenya ranging from neglect to human rights violations has had drastic consequences on the quality of life of these poor sons and daughters of God.
I have witnessed people who succumbed to the drought together with their animals and families because they had all the hope to live, the place to live, but did not have the food to eat. I have witnessed people who died in the presence of all their friends and relatives who had the generosity and sympathy but lacked the food to share out to them.  I have seen and heard of friends and relatives who were ambushed by the enemy in the presence of armed government security officers who chose to “stay cool” and let the devil take over. The recipients of this  kind of injustice are the ordinary men and women who toil and moil all day and night with stubborn hope. A pro-active security approach can effectively and efficiently address such security problems before they arise. Only then can Kenya claim to be a democracy of the rule of law in which all are equal before the jus commune and a nation of the people, by the people and for the people.
The options needed to propel the security system in northern Kenya in the right direction include a strong institutional structure and appropriate policies that can be realized only with strong political commitment to the security needs of that region. It requires a combined effort of the civil society, the government, religious and academic institutions.
99% of the youth who have never had the privilege of stepping into a classroom to receive basic education are roaming the streets and valleys of Samburu, Turkana, Pokot and Baringo. Sometimes they try hunting and gathering but because nature too has denied them the wild fruits, they gather animals. They take advantage of the idleness to consolidate a robust “army” to wage war against neighbors and nothing more. And because they live in a country where everything is “fake” from the licenses they have obtained to secure their guns from the long hand of the law to the very officer at the Gun Registry that issued them, the business thrives. It is necessary to dispose the illusion that the cattle-rustling thing is a modus Vivendi. It can never be baptized a way of life when the world knows that these people have been neglected. It is also the law of nature that any idle mind cannot engage in anything constructive. Development, security enhancement and flyovers have been oscillating between Nairobi, Western and Central Kenya
Our trauma may far surpass what is recorded in our history books, what has been captured by the Kenyan media and what has been discussed in this article.
There is no way to security- security is the way.

Ekai Nabenyo is a Law student at the University of Nairobi, born and brought-up in northern Kenya.

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