By Immanuel Lokwei, Long Mouth Social Forum
The Rustlers you ignore now are your future gangsters. That brave heart planted in a young pastoralists’ character will eventually find “new pastures” once the old ones have died away. It is not clear how this seemingly apocryphal prediction will happen, but know that it will soon be. The convergence of climate change and political sidelining, which have seen the destruction of grass, water-catching regions, and cattle with minimal national concern, will produce the finest species of nomadic pastoralists that will terrorize your streets as they roam your “productive” places to survive.
Who is the “you” being referred to in the above paragraph (the “you” who must listen to these warnings)? It is basically you. You who lives in your bubble, standing so on your balcony minding your own affairs and sometimes hunching down to watch pastoralists butchering each other at a distance and while refusing to raise alarm. Perhaps the height of your balcony distances you from the daily pastoralists’ reality, and this distance between pastoralists and you has greatly decapitates your emotional human responses. Perhaps you could be excused.
But the “you” of special interest in the first paragraph is primarily another kind of “you.” It is the “you” adorned with national authority and responsibility. The “you” that fits into this specific genealogy: the chiefs in pastoralists’ villages, government representatives at divisional and district levels, provincial and national administrators, and constituencies’ representatives. You cannot be excused for the blood spilled under your feet and the aguish caused among your people.
It might be hard to argue that when a group of pastoralists raid and kill it is you who is raiding and killing. You might claim that you did not command them or that you did not physically kill anyone and that in fact you hate the sight of blood. But what do you discuss in your closed meetings and what do you tell the assemblies of these pastoralists when the media and unidentified personnel are not watching and listening? But of course it has always been easier for you to share in the opinions of a few influential people in these pastoralists’ communities and keep your office and status than to admit to inconvenient truths about these inhuman events. Such small fears have caused the rest the people who look up to you as a leader suffer. These people could have listened to you due to the power infested in you. In this respect, you are a second-degree culprit of violence in pastoralist communities.
But don’t worry, for you will soon earn another complimentary star for the “good” work you are doing. The violence you have unleashed in these communities and the ever-widening desert conditions (thanks to your “effective” environmental policies if at all you’ve got any for these pastoralist regions) will break the back of many more pastoralist youth. These youth who still adhere to pastoralist practices will be forced to become full-time carjackers as more and more grassy regions dry up. And those pastoralists’ youth already involved in this lucrative business, for example along Kitale-Lokichogio road, will have no other option but to move into your towns. Your towns will become the “new pastures” they will find, prowling in your streets and in the inner chambers of your banks.
Do not mislead yourselves. A physical migration of pastoralist youths to agricultural-based places does not necessarily change their personal goals and mindsets. In this particular case, a change of place will mainly affect the availability of resources and opportunities. These pastoralist youths’ characters will remain intact for a long time, having been hardened by their previous hardships and the cruelties of the violence you unleashed in their villages. And one more thing: this won’t just be a migration of flesh and bones alone, but of guns too. Unlike some of the amateur robbers in your town who mainly cause terror using rungus (clubs) and pangas (machetes), the violence of these pastoralist youth will be professional and official; they will inflict pure and total terror just like they had experienced while growing up in their villages. Maybe once this tragic fire is brought to the street, even those unconcerned individuals standing on their balconies will start to understand the lives of pastoralists. Perhaps that will signal the end of their inaction.
General Warning!! Peter Tosh.