Kibigori Joint Community Forum
15th May 2013
This program is supported by USAID and the people of Kenya. This report was compiled by the Centre for Community Dialogue &Development (CCDD).
David Busienei giving his remarks
The forum commenced at 1pm with a word of prayer from Bishop James Mbara. David Busienei, CCDD coordinator led through the introductory session and familiarized participants about previous community peace forums that had been going on in the region. Owiro Community Joint forum which occurred on 10th May 2013was similar to this one. He gave the day’s program and introduced CCDD officials.
Provincial administration officials present in the forum were Area chief Jackton Choge, Assistant chiefs Joseph Karan and Walter Abiero. They appreciated the participants for turning up for the event.
Area chief Jackton Choge
Rev. Rirei informed the participants that the main reason for the forum was to discuss the conflict that has been happening in the region for a long time and to attempt to come up with solutions.
Rev. Rirei during the session
Rev. Rirei welcomed David Cooke, the day’s speaker who went straight to the day’s agenda. He informed the participants that they had been given an important opportunity to engage in a peaceful and democratic debate about issues that have caused disagreements between the two communities. Cooke told the participants that they were representing their communities and not just themselves during the session and it was important for them to speak within the context of the day’s agenda so that real issues affecting their communities are brought out. He advised them to control their emotions and be keen to listen to one another during the discussion. He gave them 30minutes to remind themselves of issues they discussed in the previous peace meetings.
David Cooke during the session
From the Luo community the following issues were raised;
- Cattle rustling
- The boundary question
- Negative politics
- Lack of openness from the Kalenjin community
Kalenjin community gave the following issues;
- The boundary
- Cattle rustling
- Political differences
The Plenary Session.
DalmasOkumu from the Luo community explained that cattle rustling had caused hatred among the two communities. He gave an incident that occurred this year, 2013,where 30 and more livestock were stolen and only 8 of them were recovered. Livestock were taken over the border into Western Province r where they were sold at Serem market. He blamed authorities for not taking a firm action to solve this menace. He further requeste the Kalenjin community to cooperate in tracking down cattle rustlers. Julius Bittok from the Kalenjin community agreed that Dalmas was right on what he talked about. He too blamed the authorities for not taking any serious action to solve the problem. He said it was frustrating when cattle are being stolen and innocent people from the Kalenjin side are suspected to be thieves yet it is not true.
Dalmas Okumu giving his remarks
Pauline Jelagat explained that boundary issues can be traced to way back in 1920s when the Kalenjin community was displaced to Tanzania by the British. She added that Floods occurred in 1961 and the Luo community from the lowlands migrated to the upper side where they live up to date. Pauline said that they have lived with the Luo community peacefully until recently when the boundary issue came out strongly as a source of misunderstanding between the two Communities. Nyando escarpment, which to them should benamed the Nandi escarpment, is still a point of contention. The Escarpment is a good water catchment area but because it is under dispute, water does not reach all residents especially on the Luo side. Teresa Odada noted that it is evident that the Kalenjin community is fighting for their ancestral land which they believe is their right. She further mentioned that the boundary is not clear to both communities. George Omollo pointed out that Kalenjin and Luo communities in Kibigori and Chepswerta area have coexisted peacefully and have never fought on issues concerning boundary.
Teresa Odada said that Nandi community does not act as they say. They sat one thing and do another. She mentioned that they use the word ‘mongen’ a Kalenjin word for ‘don’t know’ in circumstances where it is evident they are suspects. She gave an incident where cattle had been stolen and footprints clearly showed that some Kalenjinwere the culprits but still they claimed they do not know. She therefore urged the Kalenjin community to be supportive, open and share information with their Luo neighbors especially when racking down the stolen animals. Alice, a participant from the Kalenjin community disagreed on this and stressed that they usually say ‘mongen’ because it is true they do not know who the cattle rustlers are.
Barack Osoro from the Luo community said that elections have acted as triggers to conflicts in the area. He mentioned that when the two communitiesare in different political parties, conflicts emerge and property is destroyed. He said that they usually coexist with their Kalenjin neighbors but disagree during election periods. Mr. Osoro was grateful that the 2013 elections were peaceful. Bishop James Mbara agreed on this and emphasized that the youth need to be trained and counseled because they are the vulnerable group and are manipulated by politicians to trigger political conflicts. PriscaRono agreed; she blamed politicians for dividing the people and being biased in the region. She said that this has incited hatred and caused conflict among them.
Lack of openness
Alice and Teresa Odada giving remarks
James, a Kalenjin community participant said there is misinformation between the two communities. He said that mobile phones are being used to communicate with cattle rustlersand blamed technology for being used to continue impunity. Alfred added that the Luo Community occasionally has failed to identify their animals during the court processes.
Joel, participant from the Kalenjin community said that there is need for both communities to coexist in peace. He said that they are hated,provoked and not valued by the Luo community. He feared for their lives because they don’t feel secure as they walk around. He added that Kalenjins are kind and should not be reproached without cause.
Joel Bittok during the session
Few women attended the forum thus issues affecting them could not be fully represented.
Pauline Jelagat emphasized on the need to go deeper into the communities sensitizing and preaching on the need for peace. She encouraged the participants that all root causes of conflicts can be solved but the burden lies with the members of the community. She also informed and invited the participants on cross-border peace meeting between the two communities which is meant to create awareness on conflicts and early warning. BishopJames Mbara addedthat before they start reaching out to their society with the message of peace, individuals need to change their attitude first.
George Omollo felt that joint group development projects for the youth should be initiated. He said that youth is a vulnerable group and are usually exploited by political leaders to incite conflicts in the region.
Participants collectively agreed that the boundary issue should be left to the right authorities to solve.
Participants also encouraged one another to be open and honest so that issues on conflicts along the border are solved wholly by both communities.
Laiza Cooke who was in attendance advised the participants to work together as a community to enhance peace. She further advised them to form action groups from both communities to tackle each topical issue so that they mitigate conflicts in the region. David Cooke encouraged them to start acting rather than waiting for the Government or NGOs to assist.
Rev. Rirei appreciated the participants for cooperating during the session and raising issues they are facing with honesty and also having the will to work and solve them out. He further encouraged them that peace will come through for them because they are positive and are willing to embrace peace and harmony in the region.
Suki Nyadawa a KTI official in the forum appreciated CCDD for facilitating the forum. She asked the participants to appreciate and embrace the aspect of living together as neighbors and friends. She appealed to them to shun tribalism and negative ethnicity which causes hatred, resulting in endless conflicts between the communities.
Assistant chief Joseph Karan appreciated the participants for opening up and speaking out their issues in a patriotic manner. He asked the participants to be peace ambassadors in the region by being role models.
Assistant chief Walter was grateful to his residents for having been peaceful and not engaging in any conflict especially cattle rustling. He said that his location has formed a Community Based Organization (CBO) which is meant to involve and support the youth from both communities to avoid idleness but rather engage themselves and share information that builds them socially and economically thus eradicating cattle rustling in which the youth are highly suspected to be the ring leaders.
Asst. Chief Walter and Suki Nyadawa giving their remarks
Area Chief Jackton requested the NGOs to range wider and deeper and make contact with unreached communities in order to assist and create awareness on peace in the whole region. He said that communities in the region still hold on to deeply rooted cultural values and it is not easy to convince them to campaign for peace. He said that they were looking forward to reduced cases on cattle rustling because security had been enhanced in the area.
David Busienei closed the session by appreciating the participants for embracing the spirit of acting rather than lazing around and waiting to be assisted by the Government and NGOs. He encouraged participants to be open and interact with one another so that the whole community is aware of what is going on in the region. He finally thanked the provincial administration in attendance for making it to the forum and being part of the event.
Laiza Cooke and Pauline during the session Stephen Yogo in the forum
Participants during the forum George Omollo during the session