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Battle for the Rift

Prior to the setting up of the Devolution and Planning docket which introduced Kenya to the idea of counties, there were provinces; eight of them and Rift-valley was the largest of them all, covering all the way from Turkana down to Kajiado. This being the most populated area in the country sheltered ten million people who accounted for a third of the country’s population as per the then numbers. The Rift is home to numerous tribes and its people are a mesh work of different ethnic identities but the Kalenjin and Maasai are the most dominant.

Historically, the Nilotic language group migrated South following the Nile River and eventually ended up settling in the North Rift of Kenya. In the early 1900’s when the colonialists first set foot in Kenya, they disrupted the common way of living and displaced the indigenous tribes instigating a slippery slope which resulted in the land crisis that prevails today. Looking at it from the ancestral-land perspective, the Kalenjin are the original hosts who are like an alliance due to their sub-tribes. Conversely the Maasai also have a share in the cake since names such as Uasin Gishu and Eldoret have shown proof that their descent is from the Maasai culture.

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The Agikuyu who are predominantly in Central Kenya also have a history with the Rift. When the colonialists invaded Kenya, supplanting people from their homelands and positioning themselves as the despot authority; this tribe took the hardest beating as they were prevalently resistant to the new authority. The British moved the Kikuyu from the Central and recruited them to work on their white highlands; several tens of thousands moved to the Rift Valley and by 1930 this number had tripled many of whom were third generation Rift Valley Kikuyus. They initiated the 1952 Mau Mau uprising whose aim was to gain full access and attain unlimited sovereignty to these lands which their ancestors had shed blood for while fighting the White man. The cyclical pattern of Kikuyu removal from their ancestral homeland in the central, settlement in the Rift followed by forceful evictions and painful repatriation back home was the burning fire under this label.

A set-up was made by the leaving colonial government and the incoming administration(Settlement Fund Trustees) which sought to reimburse the Africans their land back but a row ensued invoked by Oginga Odinga and Bildad Kaggia who disqualified this gesture on the grounds that selling land back to people they had stolen from was just downright absurd. This legal entity was being driven by government ministers who disposed land as they pleased.

Taking a deus ex machina way out, bonde la ufa has been the center of the most onslaughts that have happened in the country even reflecting on the 2007/2008 spates of violence; passions and desires have run deep in tribes causing them to target enemy communities whose inspiration seems to flow from the avenue of economic ascension. Imagined exclusion from any profitable enterprise that is happening in their lands have made them wage wars and plan evictions and no matter how much money the government seems to be pouring in various departments in commissions an alternative solution has to be sought to settle this forever.

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Land disputes may be among the major tribalism factor in the country and the government is doing little to resolve the issue. According to Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report, land injustices was a significant factor in the 2007/2008 post election violence. Notable recommendations were made in the report on how to solve the land issue but it seems the government is adamant not to pursue such.

The rational explanation for this is that the ruling governments since post colonial era have had their hand in the land disputes pot. Unless the next ruling government is independent of persons who can be directly linked to this land atrocities, the issue would remain unresolved.

Understanding pre-colonial and post-colonial eras of our country will go a long way in solving our problems. The current generation fail to dig deep for information in order to make relevant political decisions that will liberate the country from tribal bondage.

For starters, you can read the below summary of the TJRC report on 2007/2008 election violence to get an understanding on how our country functions. Click on the link to read: http://www.acordinternational.org/silo/files/kenya-tjrc-summary-report-aug-2013.pdf

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Posted by Edward Kariuki