Left Menu
Development News Edition

WIDER IMAGE-When raiders menace in northern Kenya, grab your guns

Reuters | Updated: 13-09-2019 19:30 IST | Created: 13-09-2019 19:30 IST
WIDER IMAGE-When raiders menace in northern Kenya, grab your guns

First, the scouts saw a footprint, then a suspected spy from a rival ethnic group, scuttling off into the bush. Expecting an attack, young men grabbed their guns and mothers grabbed their children - there are few state security forces in this remote area of northern Kenya.

The Ilemi Triangle, a disputed sliver of land along the border with Ethiopia and South Sudan, is the northernmost tip of Turkana, Kenya's poorest county. A series of deadly clashes between the Turkana community and other ethnic groups that they said had crossed from South Sudan have put people on edge, to the point of posting lookouts.

As in many regions across Africa, farmers and nomads frequently clash over limited resources, be it land, cattle or water. Cows and bulls are the most important currency here, not cash. When danger looms, locals say the police are usually far away and neighbours are the only ones they can turn to.

In the Turkana community where I was staying, the danger was real. I saw seven or eight places scattered with skulls or bones with shredded clothing during the three weeks I spent in the region. There are a lot of wild animals so bodies left outside don't stay intact for long. Kenya has found oil in Turkana, but while politicians in the capital Nairobi haggle over who gets the revenue, the discovery has had little effect on the county so far.

Where I visited, families drink from the same muddy pools as their livestock. There are few schools - children instead help herd the precious cows to nearby watering holes. Chief Eipa Choro, 74, said the community felt abandoned by the government; clean water from an aid group's borehole was two hours' drive away. The nearest police station was several hours away over dusty tracks.

Nairobi says the county government is responsible for providing many important frontline services like health, early education and roads. The county government says Nairobi doesn't give it enough money to do so. While they argue, people suffer. SPOILING FOR A FIGHT

When it looked like an attack was imminent, some of the young men I witnessed seemed more excited than dismayed by the prospect of a clash with those they feared were after their livestock. As part of their preparations, they slaughtered a bull then plunged their hands into its stomach to draw out the half-digested grass. They rubbed this over their heads and chests, part of their preparations to fight.

We weren't attacked during the time I spent with them, but each time we moved, the community sent out scouts to secure the way and try to spot potential ambushes from cattle raiders. One of the most dangerous times was when they took the cows up to a watering hole right next to the border with Ethiopia. Cattle raiding parties sometimes attack and drive the herd deep into foreign territory.

One day a shaman came to read the entrails of a goat. He predicted rain and fighting. The rain came, but no fighting. Instead, news trickled in over scratchy phone lines that the group the men thought were targeting them had attacked another community nearby, carrying off around 600 animals. Reuters could not independently verify the incident.

Such raids can be a disaster for a community. There's little money here. All serious transactions are done with livestock. Warrior Matthew Logel Matteze told me he had to pay his wife's family 16 cows and 60 goats to marry her. Kenya and South Sudan have set up a joint commission to try to agree on the disputed border.

Mawien Makol, a spokesman for South Sudan's Foreign Ministry said the work might be finished by the end of the year. Irene Akao Agum, a spokeswoman for Kenya's Attorney General's Office, said authorities were trying to gather information from both communities about the border.

My hosts want to stay in Kenya, but these days in the Ilemi Triangle, there is little peace. (Writing by Katharine Houreld Editing by Mike Collett-White and Mark Heinrich)



South Africa's COVID-19 response: Surprising outcomes or just poor data management?

South Africa has been committed to improving its health information system and shows that a robust digital has considerable scope to improve healthcare for the entire population. But the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that significant ga...

Post-COVID-19 Nigeria needs a robust Health Management Information System to handle high disease burden

Nigeria is among a few countries that conceptualised a health management information system HMIS in the early 90s but implementation has been a challenge till date. Besides COVID-19, the country has a huge burden of communicable and non-com...

Morocco COVID-19 response: A fragile health system and the deteriorating situation

Learning from its European neighbors, Morocco imposed drastic measures from the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak to try to contain its spread. The strategy worked for a few months but the cases have surged after mid-June. In this sit...

COVID-19: Argentina’s health system inefficiencies exaggerate flaws of health information system

You can recover from a drop in the GDP, but you cant recover from death, was the straightforward mindset of Argentinas President Alberto Fernndez and defined the countrys response to COVID-19. The South American nation imposed a strict...


Latest News

DC win toss, elect to bowl against SRH in IPL

Delhi Capitals skipper Shreyas Iyer won the toss and elected to bowl against Sunrisers Hyderabad in an IPL match here on Tuesday. Delhi Capitals made one change, bringing in fit-again pacer Ishant Sharma in place of Avesh Khan.Sunrisers Hyd...

Two children drown in pit in UP

Two children drowned in a pit filled with water in agricultural land in the Bisanda area here on Tuesday, police saidShivam and Chotu, both aged eight years, were playing when they slipped into the pit and drowned, Station House Officer of ...

Delhi Capitals skipper Shreyas Iyer fined Rs 12 lakh for slow over-rate

Delhi Capitals skipper Shreyas Iyer has been slapped with a fine of Rs 12 lakh after his team maintained a slow over-rate against Sunrisers Hyderabad in their Indian Premier League IPL match here. Given that this was his first offence of th...

Guj: 3 labourers killed in building collapse in Vadodara

Three laborers were killed after a three-story under-construction building collapsed in Gujarats Vadodara city in the early hours of Tuesday, an official said. Besides, one laborer was rescued from the debris, fire officer Amit Chaudhary sa...

Give Feedback