- Residents urge President William Ruto to help conduct operation to wipe out bandits and resettle them.
- Say their plight has been ignored by successive governments.
Over 4,000 displaced Turkana bandits attack victims are now pleading for help after gruesome killing of Turkana-born peace crusader Mary Kanyaman.
Before being shot dead, Kanyaman —sister to Thirdway Alliance Party leader Ekuru Aukot—served as director Golden Valley Cooperative Society based in Kapedo, on the volatile Baringo-Turkana border.
“The society membership brought together over 4,000 poor Turkana residents displaced by bandits and were currently putting up as squatters in parts of Baringo, Laikipia, Samburu, Turkana and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties,” Laikipia group coordinator Jeremiah Nanei said on Monday.
Kanyaman was among 11 people including some eight GSU officer ambushed and shot dead by armed bandits at Namariat village, Napeitom ward near Kapedo in Turkana East on September 4.
She was later laid to rest in an emotive ceremony held at remote Juluk village in Kanamkemer ward, Turkana Central on October 8.
“Kanyaman was like a mother to us because through her Golden Valley foundation, apart from preaching peace among the warring communities, she intensified marketing and selling of local livestock to ensure displaced families managed to feed and take their children to school,” Nanei said.
He said the woman with a big heart took upon herself to traverse the volatile areas urging the warring Pokot, Tugen, Turkana, Samburu, Ilchamus and Marakwet pastoral communities in North rift region to stop banditry and coexist in peace.
“Her death was a shock to many and has left a wide vacuum, we don’t know who else will help us. Our only refuge and hope is the government to help us resettle our people,” Nanei said.
Kanyaman, who earlier worked as Health Executive Committee for Samburu County Government held several peace meetings targeted at pushing the government to end persistent banditry and help resettle the suffering victims.
“She always believed everybody has a lawful right to settle anywhere and enjoy fundamental rights like every other Kenya,” Nanei said.
After the shooting, the bandits fled the scene leaving Kanyaman and others fighting for their lives, she however managed to send two distress messages via her Whatsapp.
"Help us, help us. Kamuge, Ngilukia help us. Riet village has been attacked, please help us, come to our rescue," and "I am dying as a result of excessive thirst. Give me water please," read the messages, before she died.
Nanei said thousands of Turkana residents who used to look upon Kanyaman were currently left stranded and poor. “We are appealing to the government to beef up security and help resettle them urgently in their deserted homeland,” he said.
He said since 1970s to date, residents flee their volatile homes in Lomelo, Lokori, Kapedo, Nadome, Ekibor, Katilia, Napeitom and Elele in Turkana and were currently living as squatters in Baragoi, Nashola, Mararal in Samburu, Silale, Marigat, Mogotio and Eldama-Ravine in Baringo and Laikipia.
A victim Solomon Tetekori, 62, currently a resident of Katorongot village in Mogotio, Baringo said life hasn’t been easy for him and his family since they fled banditry attacks at Napeitom, Turkana back in 1974.
“We came to Mogotio since then my Turkana community here lived in abject poverty, we have not been allocated any land except Katorongot which we temporarily occupy,” Tetekori said.
He further said they have fallen victims of hunger, malnutrition and diseases which has seen them lose majority of their kinsmen including children.
The elder said they have tirelessly voted in leaders but their voices haven’t been heard by any of the previous presidents, Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Moi, Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta.
“We hope our plight shall now be heard by our current President William Ruto” Tetekori said.
They are pushing for leadership representation both in county and national government.
-Edited by SKanyara