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Miwani Luo Community Forum
7th 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).
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The peace forum started at 11.30 am. Welcoming remarks were given by the area resident Mr. Dalmas, who welcomed the visitors and the participants to the day’s event. David Busienei, CCDD coordinator introduced the day’s facilitators and appreciated the participants for turning up for the forum in order discuss matters peace in the region. He emphasized that Centre for Community Dialogue and Development with the Support of the USAID had gone to preach peace in the area because they were aware of the ongoing conflicts. He also gave a brief review of the previous peace forums and advised them to campaign for lasting peace in the region since the solution to disputes and conflicts between  the two Communities lies squarely upon them.
The area assistant chief Mr. Joseph Ondieki also present in the forum thanked the participants for turning up in good numbers within a short notice. He appreciated the efforts by CCDD in advocating for peace within communities and creating awareness on the value of peace amongst the citizens. He also encouraged the community to avoid conflicts with their neighbors instead uphold and spearhead peace campaigns in the region.

Area Assistant Chief Mr. Ondieki
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Rev. Rirei, facilitator in charge of mediation, asked the participants to cooperate and raise their opinions in an orderly and democratic manner. He then welcomed David Cooke to take over the first session where he sought to really get reasons for the Conflict.
Mr. David Cooke and Rev. Rirei during the session
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David Cooke  advised the community on the need to uphold peace  but that there is need to scrutinize the root causes of conflicts. He mentioned that he was well versed with land conflicts, cattle rustling, robbery, title disputes, grazing land disputes and political squabbles in the region, and encouraged them to shun these activities since it not only causes loss of property but most importantly loss of innocent lives. He further went on to emphasize  the need to focus deeper into the root causes of conflicts because the issues rose within them and the solutions were therefore going to come from them as well.
Cooke therefore gave everybody a chance to air out their views on what they think is the cause of conflicts in the region. He also encouraged the women in the forum to share their opinions too. Participants gave the following as the root causes to conflicts .
Cattle rustling
Alfred Abong’o said that cattle rustling are a major menace affecting them and their neighbors. David Cooke sought to know much about the recurrence of the cattle theft, and the participants collectively agreed that it was done often, with the recent one being on 24th April 2013, where seven cattle were stolen. Dalmas also a resident and a participant in the forum added that on such cases they usually follow footprints to trace the stolen animals. He complained of a recent case where they reported the matter to the administration but they did not take any serious action. He  added that they are rarely lucky to recover the stolen cattle.

Mr. Alfred Abong’o and Dalmas during the session
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Rev. Rirei interjected to ask whether they also provoke their neighbors by stealing their cattle, and Bishop James Ambara admitted that about three times had their youth  reciprocated by taking their neighbor’s cattle.
Politics
Alfred Abong’o added that politics was to blame for their conflicts as well. Asa Auma supported this view and pointed out that politicians incite their jobless youth by taking advantage of their vulnerable conditions and thus making them instruments for causing conflicts.
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 Boundary question and Title deeds
Teresa Odada complained that they do not have title deeds to the land they stay in. she was not happy because their neighboring community, the Kalenjins take advantage of the situation to destroy their houses by burning them down. David probed to know when were the houses destroyed and they said that it happened in the previous year at Kibigori.

Teresa Odada giving her remark

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Asa Auma added that their neighbors were not clear on the boundary lines since some say it is at the hills, others the tarmac road that connects Chemelil, Miwani and Kisumu and others say it is at the railway line. He further added that the boundary was established by the British and Kalenjins believe that it is their land because it is a vast grazing land.
Johnson Odhiambo said that they on the lower side of the region have not been fighting for the boundary as such, but he was afraid because he foresaw it coming as Kalenjins believe that the land around the railway line and the Miwani regions rightfully belong to them. Asa Auma was not satisfied since Miwani factory was constructed in order to create jobs for the communities around but it has turned to be a cause of conflict between the two communities.
Johnson Odhiambo giving his remarks
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David Busienei interjected to probe on the issue of title deeds, and wanted to find out if there were efforts  being undertaken to facilitate the provision of title deeds  for the residents.
Mr. Stephen Yogo, opinion leader said that title deeds are ready and the residents could collect them from administrative offices at Awasi. Asa Auma complained that the process was procedural and tedious. George Ouma supported this and said that surveying was an expensive process and others might not afford it, but Mr. Stephen Yogo advised them to take it positively and consider the usefulness of obtaining the title deed. David Cooke also encouraged the participants to do so and asked them to share the information with others who were not aware of the availability of title deeds because it was one way of reaching out for peace in the region.

Mr. Stephen Yogo during the session
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Stereotyping
Rev. Rirei probed on this since the Kalenjin community mentioned that the Luo community hates them and say they are not learned. Participants said that they call them thieves because they steal cattle from them.
Recommendations  
Johnson Odhiambo was of the opinion that there is need to create awareness and sensitize the youth for  the need for peace within communities. He said that the youth were prone to causing conflicts because of lack of education and joblessness.
Another participant, peter Odhiambo added that the community should name the culprits who participate cattle rustling so that they are dealt with by the authorities. Samson also appealed to his fellow participants to stop cattle rustling and asked them not to be quiet when they find cattle that does not belong to them in their ‘ bomas’, he also pointed out that there is need to facilitate a joint Luo-Kalenjin dialogue meeting on the peace agenda and he was informed that it’s underway.
Mary Otieno said that there was need to renew their friendship with the Kalenjins because they are neighbors and they have even intermarried. Charles Otieno supported this and said that even their historical background show that the Luos and Kalenjins were good friends.
Challenges

  • Heavy rains in area make the roads impassable thus late arrival to venue which further disrupts the day’s program.
  • Women shy off airing their views and yet the issues on board affect them largely as many of them are mothers and widows as well.

Conclusion
David Cooke asked the community not to rely and wait for the government to chip in to offer help on this topical issue mainly because solutions and better decisions lie squarely on them. The participants collectively agreed on this and asked for a joint meeting with their Kalenjin neighbors so as to debate on this matter to ensure peace in the region. David Busienei promised them that a joint meeting will be organized and it will be communicated to them and their participation will be appreciated as they gear towards lasting peace and tranquility in the region.


David Busienei giving his remarks
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Pictorial view of the day’s events
CCDD facilitators                                                              
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Participants during the session
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