The hidden hand of politicians in Narok clan clashes

Administrator says no evidence shows incitement by politicians but that investigations have been widened

In Summary

*John Ntutet, one the the victim told the Star at Christ Marriane Mission Hospital in Kisii that the GSU and police officers often raid hospitals to nab them if they seek treatment there

*Whispers that some politicians may be fanning the conflict are rife with some calling for action beyond the normal deployments.

Morans from the Uasin Gishu clan Narok during their graduation ceremony after being in seclusion for one month at a Manyatta at Osinoni in Trans Mara West
INITIATION: Morans from the Uasin Gishu clan Narok during their graduation ceremony after being in seclusion for one month at a Manyatta at Osinoni in Trans Mara West

BY MAGATI [email protected]

Beyond the lush greenery of the valley that divides Siria and Uasin Gishu clans at Enororeet border in Trans Mara West lies a clan rivalry that has continued for decades.

A passerby will be forgiven to think of cultivating the fertile land given the luxuriantly growing grass and the expansive cultivated fields.

The story quickly changes when one enters the nearby homesteads that have become killing fields.

Sunday clashes that left at least 10 youths nursing arrow injuries at Christ Marriane Mission Hospital in Kisii followed renewed violence along the disputed border between the two warring clans.

Last month, seven youth lost their lives in fresh skirmishes.

Daniel Naula, 65, a Sirian says there has been some calm for a while. He appeared unperturbed by the boundary feud, terming it normal.

He says the dispute began like a feud between two elderly men, Mzee Ntutntu and Yaile Kipsaisa, before degenerating into the clan clashes of today.

Hundreds have been killed since, Naula says.

John Ntutet, one the victims told the Star at Christ Marriane Mission Hospital in Kisii that police officers often follow them to hospital whenever they seek treatment for the wounds.

They are arrested for participating in the clashes.

"We are often branded criminals even when we rise to defend ourselves against the aggression from the other clan," Ntutet said. He belongs to the Uasin Gishu clan.

There are claims politicians are behind the clashes. The clans often accuse each other of starting the violence.

On Tuesday, members of the Uasin Gishu clan said often youths from the rival Siria were often the first to launch attacks.

"There was calm and the demarcation has been going on well until the marauding Siria youth raided our homesteads," Wilson Tunda said. He was referring to the government's intervention to demarcate the border between the warring clans.

A member of the clergy however told the Star of a political hand in the conflict and called for investigations.

"There could be no senseless clan skirmishes going on without end if there is no involvement of some politicians. This is the crux of the matter. We want the government to investigate," Pastor David Kikwai of the Enoseeni Seventh Day Adventist Church said.

Kikwai spoke in Kisii when he visited victims of last weekend's clashes. He said there was silent incitement of youth to engage in senseless fights over a problem that the government was already working to resolve.

"This is an absolutely useless conflict and security agencies should scratch beyond the surface to determine if there is some involvement of politicians so that action can be taken . This can forestall further inter-clan raids," Kikwai said.

On Tuesday, a contingent of security chiefs including Narok county commissioner Samuel Kimiti and Trans Mara deputy county commissioner Hassan Noor visited the scene to quell tensions. It was their second visit to the area in less than two months.

Noor told the Star the government was up to the task and would end the clashes soon.

"We have the machinery and the will to ensure the ongoing demarcation exercise goes on to its fruitful end. We are not going to entertain any youth to fight again over this issue," Noor said on the phone.

He said there was no evidence pointing to the involvement of politicians, but that they were probing all possibilities.

"We are ready to take action on anybody found to be fanning the chaos irrespective of their status," the administrator said.

The Siria clan is seen as the minority in the area but Governor Samuel Tunai is its most prominent son. Residents have criticised his silence over the killings.

It is not clear whether political dominance by the Uasin Gishu clan has a hand in the clashes.

Tunai was said to be away when the Star sought comment from his office with an aide saying he will respond when he returns from a foreign tour.

"Being the most influential person in his clan, he should rise to the occasion and sow seeds of harmony rather than sit at the back while people kill each other," said Uasin Gishu elder John Ntumbi.

He said police failure to often respond in time has contributed to many deaths.

"We are brothers and sisters who should not fight a useless war while demarcation is going on," Ntumbi said. He said it was unfortunate the situation snowballed into a crisis that requires the intervention of top security agencies.

"The government should know this is a crisis that should be tackled as a matter of urgency," he said.


edited by peter obuya