Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-mhl4m Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-28T23:58:12.167Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The role of elite rivalry and ethnic politics in livestock raids in northern Kenya

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 August 2017

Willis Okumu*
Affiliation:
Right Livelihood College (RLC), Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany
Kaderi Noagah Bukari*
Affiliation:
Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany
Papa Sow*
Affiliation:
Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany
Evans Onyiego*
Affiliation:
Catholic Diocese of Maralal, Kenya

Abstract

This paper argues that livestock raids and pastoralists’ competition over water and pastures in north-western Kenya are manifestations of local ethnic political contests and rivalries. The culture of raiding among the Samburu, Turkana, Pokot, Borana, Gabra and Rendille communities has changed over the last 40 years. Whereas elders were once the gatekeepers of communal institutions, today new actors are at the forefront of new forms of violent raids. Among Samburu and Turkana communities, politicians and shrewd businessmen have emerged to exploit ethnic rivalry that exists between these groups and use it to mobilise raids. These political and business elites play influencing roles in raiding by paying and arming warriors to carry out raids. Competition for political influence is closely intertwined with competition over scarce water resources and grazing pastures among Turkana and Samburu. Given that pastoralists survive on decreasing pasture and water resources, our study shows that political elites arm their communities during the dry season to gain the upper hand in contests over access to limited resources. Livestock raids no longer occur in the traditional context of restocking, but rather as an expression and manifestation of local ethnic politics and political contests between ethnic kingpins. The study uses primary field data from a case study collected through in-depth interviews, oral history and group discussions with various actors.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

REFERENCES

Adano, W.R., Witsenburg, K. & Dietz, T.. 2012. ‘Climate change, violent conflict and local institutions in Kenya's drylands’, Journal of Peace Research 49: 6580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bailey, F.G. 1969. Stratagems and spoils: a social anthropology of politics. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
Bailey, F.G. 2001. Treasons, stratagems and spoils: how leaders make practical use of values and beliefs. Oxford: Westview Press.Google Scholar
Baragoi Police Station 2013. ‘Kawap Incident Report’, Police Signal, 25 August.Google Scholar
Baragoi Police Station 2014.’Shooting Incident at Loworarik Grazing Field’, Police Signal, 22 November.Google Scholar
Bollig, M. 1993. ‘Intra-and interethnic conflict in northwest Kenya: a multi-causal analysis of conflict behaviour’, Anthropos 88, 1: 176–84.Google Scholar
Bollig, M. & Österle, M.. 2007. ‘We turned our enemies into baboons: warfare, ritual, and pastoral identity among the Pokot of northern Kenya’, in Rao, A., Bollig, M. & Böck, M., eds. The Practice of War: production, reproduction and communication of armed violence. New York, NY: Berghahn Books, 2351.Google Scholar
Bevan, J. 2008. Between a Rock and a Hard Place: armed violence in African pastoral communities. Nairobi: UNDP.Google Scholar
Demmers, J. 2012. Theories of conflict: an introduction. New York, NY: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Catley, A., Lind, J. & Scoones, I.. 2013. Pastoralism and Development in Africa: dynamic change at the margins. New York, NY: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Eaton, D. 2008. ‘The business of peace: raiding and peace work along the Kenya–Uganda Border’ (Part I). African Affairs 107, 426: 89110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Eaton, D. 2012. ‘Revenge, ethnicity and cattle raids in northwestern Kenya’, in Witsenburg, K. & Zaal, F., eds. Spaces of Insecurity: human agency in violent conflicts in Kenya. Leiden: Africa Studies Center, 4862.Google Scholar
Etzioni, A. 1968. ‘Mobilization as a macro-sociological conception’, British Journal of Sociology 19, 3: 243–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fleisher, M.L. 2000. Kuria cattle raiders: violence and vigilantism on the Tanzania–Kenya Frontier. Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Galaty, J.G. 2005. ‘States of violence: ethnicity, politics and pastoral conflicts in East Africa’, Geography Research Forum 25: 105–27.Google Scholar
Glowacki, L. & Gonc, K.. 2013. ‘Customary institutions and traditions in pastoralists societies: neglected potential for conflict resolution’, Conflict Trends 1: 2632.Google Scholar
Government of Kenya. 1965. Sessional Paper No. 10 and Its Application to Planning in Kenya. Nairobi: Government Printer.Google Scholar
Government of Kenya. 2006. The Pokot/Samburu Naivasha Peace Accord: report of the Pokot/Samburu Peace and Reconciliation Meeting, National Steering Committee on Peacebuilding and Conflict Management. Nairobi: Office of the President.Google Scholar
Government of Kenya 2009. National Population and Housing Census. Ministry of Planning and Vision 2030. Nairobi: Central Bureau of Statistics of Kenya.Google Scholar
Greiner, C. 2013. ‘Guns, land and votes: cattle rustling and the politics of boundary (re) making in Northern Kenya’, Africa Affairs 112: 216–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Greiner, C., Bollig, M. & McCabe, T.J.. 2011. Notes on land-based conflicts in Kenya's arid areas’, Africa Spectrum 46, 3: 7781.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gurr, T.R. 1993. ‘Why minorities rebel: a global analysis of communal mobilization and conflict since 1945’, International Political Science Review 14, 2: 162201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Heald, S. (ed.). 1997. Praise Poems of the Kuria: in Kuria with English translations. Nairobi: Phoenix Publishers.Google Scholar
Hendrickson, D., Mearns, R. & Armon, J.. 1998. ‘Livestock raiding among the pastoral Turkana of Kenya: redistribution, predation and the links to famine’, IDS Bulletin 27, 3: 1730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Honderich, T. 2003. Terrorism for Humanity: inquiries in political philosophy. London: Pluto.Google Scholar
Horowitz, D.L. 1985. Ethnic groups in conflict. Berkeley, CA: University of California.Google Scholar
Ide, T., Schilling, J., Link, J.S.A., Scheffran, J., Ngaruiya, G. & Weinzierl, T.. 2014. ‘On exposure, vulnerability and violence: spatial distribution of risk factors for climate change and violent conflict across Kenya and Uganda’, Political Geography 43, 1: 6881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jenkins, J.C. 1983. ‘Resource mobilization theory and the study of social movements’, Annual Review of Sociology 9: 527–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kaimba, G., Njehia, B. & Guliye, A.. 2011. ‘Effects of cattle rustling and household characteristics on migration decisions and herd size amongst pastoralists in Baringo District, Kenya’, Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 1, 1: 118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kariuki, D.P. & Letiya, W.. n.d. Livestock Production and Health Challenges in Pastoral Areas. Nairobi: Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI).Google Scholar
Kenya Human Rights Commission 2010. Moran No More: the changing face of cattle rustling in Kenya. Nairobi: Kenya Human Rights Commission.Google Scholar
Khalif, Z.K & Oba, G.. 2013. ‘′Gaafa dhaabaa – the period of stop': narrating impacts of shifta insurgency on pastoral economy in northern Kenya, c. 1963 to 2007’, Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 3. doi: 10.1186/2041-7136-3-14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kilaka, M.N. 2013. ‘The roles of Rendille women in peace-building in Laisamis constituency, Marsabit County'. MA Thesis, Institute of Anthropology, Gender and African Studies, University of Nairobi.Google Scholar
Krätli, S. and Swift, J.. 1999. Understanding and managing pastoral conflict in Kenya. Brighton: University of Sussex.Google Scholar
Lamphear, J. 1976. ‘Aspects of Turkana leadership during the era of primary resistance’, Journal of African History 29: 2739.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Leff, J. 2009. ‘Pastoralists at war: violence and security in the Kenyan-Sudan-Uganda border region’, International Journal of Conflict and Violence 3, 2: 188203.Google Scholar
Lentz, C. & Nugent, P.. 2000. Ethnicity in Ghana: the limits of invention. London: Macmillan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Log, N. 2001. Development Sociology: actor perspectives. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Mburu, N. 2001. ‘Firearms and political power: the military decline of the Turkana of Kenya 1900–2000’, Nordic Journal of African Studies 10, 2: 148–62.Google Scholar
McCabe, J.T. 2004. Cattle Bring us to our Enemies: Turkana ecology, politics and raiding in a disequilibrium system. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mkutu, K.A. 2005. ‘Pastoralist conflict, governance and small arms in North Rift, North East Africa: the cases of Karamoja, Uganda; West Pokot; Dol Dol, Laikipia; and Baragoi, Samburu, Kenya’. PhD Dissertation, Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, Bradford.Google Scholar
Mkutu, K.A. 2006. ‘Small arms and light weapons among pastoral groups in the Kenya–Uganda border area’, African Affairs 106, 422: 4770.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mkutu, K.A. 2008. Guns and governance in the Rift Valley – pastoralist conflict and small arms. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
Mkutu, K.A. 2010. ‘Complexities of livestock raiding in Karamoja’, Nomadic Peoples 14, 2: 87105.Google Scholar
Mkutu, K. A. 2015. ‘Changes and challenges of the Kenya Police Reserve: the case of Turkana County’, African Studies Review 58, 1: 199222.Google Scholar
Mulugeta, A. and Hagmann, T.. 2008. ‘Governing violence in the pastoralist space: Karrayu and state notions of cattle raiding in the Ethiopian Awash Valley’, Afrika Focus 21, 2: 7187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mwangi, O.G. 2006. ‘Kenya: conflict in the ‘badlands’: the Turbi Massacre in Marsabit District’, Review of African Political Economy 33: 8191.Google Scholar
National Police Service. 2013. Report of the Investigation Committee on the Baragoi Massacre. Nairobi: Vigilance House.Google Scholar
Okumu, W. 2016. Map of Baragoi Area. Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology , University of Cologne, Germany.Google Scholar
Osamba, J.O. 2000. ‘The sociology of insecurity: cattle rustling and banditry in north-western Kenya’, Africa Journal of Conflict Resolution 1, 2: 1138.Google Scholar
Posner, D.N. 2005. Institutions and Ethnic Politics in Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rinquist, J. 2011. ‘Bandit or patriot: the Kenyan Shifta War 1963–1968’, Baltic Security and Defence Review 13, 1: 100–21.Google Scholar
Rothbard, M.N. 2009. The Anatomy of the State. Ludwig: Ludwig von Mises Institute.Google Scholar
Rutten, M.M.E.M. 1989. ‘The struggle for land and livestock among the Turkana (ex) nomadic pastoralists of north-west Kenya’, in Peperkamp, G. & Remie, C.H.W., eds. The Struggle for Land World-Wide. Nijmegen: NICCOS, 4871.Google Scholar
Schilling, J., Opiyo, F. & Scheffran, J.. 2012. ‘Raiding pastoral livelihoods: motives and effects of violent conflict in north-western Kenya’, Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 2, 25: 116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schilling, J., Locham, R., Weinzierl, T., Vivekananda, J. & Scheffran, J.. 2015. ‘The nexus of oil, conflict, and climate change vulnerability of pastoral communities in Northwest Kenya’, Earth System Dynamics 6, 11631200. www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/6/1163/2015/.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schlee, G. 2008. How Enemies are Made: towards a theory of ethnic and religious conflict. Oxford: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
Sharamo, R. 2014. ‘The politics of pastoral violence: a case study of Isiolo County, Northern Kenya’, Working Paper 095, Future Agricultures, DFID.Google Scholar
Skoggard, I. & Adem, T.A.. 2010. ‘From rustlers to raiders: the filial disaffection of a Turkana age-set’, Ethnology 49, 4: 249–62.Google Scholar
Spencer, P. 1965. The Samburu: a study of gerontocracy in a nomadic tribe. London: Routledge Kegan Paul.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Spencer, P. 1973. Nomads in Alliance: symbiosis and growth among the Rendille and Samburu of Kenya. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Stigand, C.H. 1910. To Abyssinia through an unknown land: an account of a journey through unexplored regions of British East Africa by Lake Rudolf to the kingdom of Menelek. New York, NY: J.B. Lippincott.Google Scholar
Tablino, P. 2006. Christianity Among the Nomads: the Catholic communities in Marsabit, Moyale and Samburu District of northern Kenya, Vol. II. Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa.Google Scholar
Van den Broeck, J. 2009. Conflict motives in Kenya's North Rift Region. Belgium: International Peace Information Service, Interns and Volunteers Series.Google Scholar
Vasquez, P.I. 2013. ‘Kenya at a crossroads: hopes and fears concerning the development of oil and gas reserves’, International Development Policy, Revue internationale de politique de developpement. Geneva: Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.Google Scholar
Wasamba, P. 2009. ‘The concept of heroism in Samburu Moran ethos’, Journal of African Cultural Studies 21, 2: 145–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Watson, E. & Schlee, G. (eds). 2009. ‘Introduction’, in Changing Identifications and Alliances in North-East Africa, Sudan, Uganda and the Ethiopia-Sudan Borderlands, Volume 3. New York, NY: Berghahn Books, 130.Google Scholar
Witsenburg, K. & Adano, W.R.. 2009. ‘Of rains and raids: violent livestock raiding in northern Kenya’, Civil Wars 11, 4: 514–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

News Media

Kenya Human Rights Commission. 2009. ‘The Business of Violence’, Documentary. Nairobi: Kenya Human Rights Commission.Google Scholar
Lekupe, J. 2011. ‘No Man's Land: A Documentary on Land and Pastoralists Conflicts in Northern Kenya, Maralal, Samburu County’.Google Scholar
Taabu, N. 2013. ‘Samburu State of War: two decade conflict that threatens the existence of two communities’. Nairobi, NTV Documentary.Google Scholar
Wachira, M. 2015. ‘ “We fund Raids” elites tell Kaparo’, Nairobi, Daily Nation.Google Scholar