Kopere Community Joint Meeting
17th 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).
The forum started at 1pm. David Busienei took over the introductory session and reminded the participants about the previous peace forums in the region facilitated by CCDD. He told the participants that there is need to talk and act on peace issues at the border. He further went on to introduce CCDD facilitators at the forum as well as the participants.
Rev. Rirei set the climate for the session and appreciated the participants for turning up for the event. He introduced David and Laiza Cooke who had attended the forum. Rev. Rirei advised the participants to engage themselves in efforts that bring peace in the region rather than inciting conflicts which hurt and destroy people’s property. He added that it was necessary for them to coexist so that the region develops.
Rev Rirei during the session
David Cooke as well appreciated the participants for attending the joint peace forum. He asked the participants to be keen and listen well because they were representing their communities in search for long lasting peace in the region.
David Cooke during the session
Both communities went into groups to remind themselves issues concerning conflict that were raised in their previous peace forums. They were given a chance to raise those issues and they gave the following;
- Cattle rustling
- Land disputes
- Drug abuse
The Kalenjin group
- Cattle rustling
- Land disputes
- Negative ethnicity
- Political differences
The Luo group
Douglas Otiato from the Luo community said that stock theft had taken root in the region. He blamed the illicit ‘chang’aa’ brewers because locals hatch plans to commit criminal activities including cattle theft in those dens. He also added that cattle rustling is becoming a dangerous practice as the locals end up being killed in the process. Rueben from the Kalenjin side said that cattle rustling affected their community too. He blamed the youth from both communities who collaborate in this act. He said that the community affected by this act at times revenge by taking livestock from innocent people. Judith Chepchirchir from the Kalenjin side also said that the Kalenjin community in the region is not impressed because they are blamed to be the cattle rustlers yet the thieves come from as far as Kaptumo in Aldai region. She pointed out that the innocent people suffer when revenge is done.
Douglas Otiato giving his remarks
Bernard Oluoch said that land disputes in the region causes tension amongst both communities which brings about disagreements. He gave an incident whereby people encroach into other people’s land, burn down sugarcane plantation and forcefully settle on the land. He said they won’t be surprised when they wake up one day to find a new ‘neighbor’ in their own land. Judith Chepchirchir said that the Kalenjin community goes through the same thing. She felt it was unfair other communities in Kenya were coexisting while Kalenjin and Luo community at the Nyanza and Rift valley border continue fighting over issues that can be solved peacefully. She added that the Kalenjin community who are the original owners of the land have been displaced living them landless. Rueben also added that they do not have title deeds and therefore when youths find empty pieces of land they settle on it. He requested that they need to be resettled.
Bernard Oluoch and Eunice Atito giving their remarks
Negative ethnicity/ stereotyping
Bernard Oluoch blamed conflicts they are facing on negative ethnicity or tribalism. He said that the Kalenjin community calls them names which at the end of the day, demoralizes them. Eunice Atito added that hate speech is rampant in the region; the Luo community is looked down upon and treated unfairly.
Rtd. Chief Mr. Koech said that political interests have caused disagreements between the two communities. He said that people in the region do not speak openly on their political views because it will provoke and incite hate amongst both communities. This is mainly because the Kalenjin and the Luo community in the region still vote along tribal lines. He said that this aggravated tribalism and ethnicity in the region causing endless conflicts which occur every time during elections. Bernard Oluoch agreed that politics have negatively influenced the community. He also blamed politicians who make promises to their communities and end up not fulfilling them. He said that many politicians have promised to resettle communities in the region but they have not acted.
Douglas Otiato said that youth are being manipulated by politicians who give them very little amount of money to incite conflicts in the region. She said that Kopere market brings both communities together but it has been used to divide the communities through political incitements.
Rtd. Chief, Mr. Koech proposed that there is need to brand cattle for the purpose of identification. He added that authorities should treat cattle rustling as a criminal act which is highly punishable. The government needs to be involved to follow the chain on cattle rustling activities so that the ring leaders are caught.
Elders were also asked to give a stern warning to their children concerning stock theft.
Rueben, a participant pointed out that the youth need to be engaged in economic activities that will earn them a living.
Participants also proposed the formation of a committee to foresee and curb cases on cattle rustling.
Rtd. Chief Kipsutko Koech
The two communities called on the government to solve the boundary issue and settle the communities in the region. They also asked the government to create awareness on legal procedures of using and acquiring land through civic education programs.
Participants collectively agreed that if they are displaced, there are legal procedures to be followed rather than displacing people in their own farms.
Negative ethnicity/ tribalism/ stereotypes
Both communities emphasized on the need for inter-community interactions through meetings, intermarriages, sports and cultural forums.
Pauline Rono added that their children should be taught diverse cultures and to shun tribalism and ethnicity right from their childhood.
Joint youth cross border projects should be established to encourage the process of healing and developing the region economically and socially.
Paul Kirui told the participants to be careful when electing leaders so that they choose responsible leaders who represent them in the Government. Josephine Koech pointed out that both communities need to respect political decisions they make individually or as a community. Bernard Oluoch said that there is time for everything there is time for politics and time for going back to work and he emphasized that it was time to work to rebuild and develop their broken communities.
The Kalenjin community said that the youth using drugs like bhang affect their livelihoods. They were worried about the youth’s health and security in the society because they no longer go to school; they fight at their homes and destroy their neighbor’s property. Judith Chepchirchir said that it is no longer safe to walk around in the evenings. She said that the youth are idle and are looking for easy ways to raise money.
KTI official Mr Ken Onyango during the Session.
Rev. Rirei asked both communities to shun conflicts and come together to build their communities.
- Language barrier; some members at the forum were older people from the Luo community and the Kalenjin community, thus it made it difficult for them to understand English, even through a translator came to help out.
- Lower turnout of women; more men attended the forum than the women, yet women suffer from these conflicts too.
David Cooke asked the participants to stand together as a community and be strong. He thanked the participants for representing their communities and asked them to accept one another and embrace peace and harmony.
David Busienei closed the session and thanked David Cooke and Rev. Rirei for facilitating the day’s event. He asked the participants to accept one another and stay together as neighbors’.
He promised them that CCDD will still continue working with communities in the region in order to sensitize them on the need for peace between them.
Pictorial view of the day’s events
David Cooke in the forum Pauline Rono giving her remarks