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September 21, 2018

Kenyans Must Reject Cord's Campaign For Evictions

 Without mincing words, Raila and Wetang'ula recently said the root cause of the insecurity crisis at the Coast of Kenya is linked to upcountry people who have settled in the coast and grabbed land there, hence the reason why they are under attack in Lamu county.

To stop the attacks, they suggested two cures. First, those who have grabbed land must surrender it to the coastal residents. Secondly, the residents should support Cord leaders who had not gone to the coast to grab land.

Third, by linking land-grabbing with Kenyatta and Moi regimes, Cord leaders demanded immediate implementation of the TJRC report that most Kenyans have not read and whose commissioners paid a courtesy call to Moi, though Raila, Wetang'ula and Kalonzo Musyoka all worked with Moi regime when it was a one-party dictatorship.

 But who from upcountry has been under attack at the coast, and have they grabbed land there?

 Grabbing land here must mean taking land by force, without paying any money for it.

 From the beginning, it must be conceded that there are upcountry people who have settled at the coast as there are coast people who have settled upcountry, all as Kenyans who believe Kenyan constitution, and laws allow every Kenyan to settle and own land or other property anywhere in Kenya.

 However, among upcountry people there are ordinary people who moved, and bought land at the coast on their own, or were taken into settlement schemes like Mpeketoni by the government.

Can these ordinary and poor Kenyans be called land-grabbers at the coast? By any means no, because they had no force by which they could grab land.

 But there are leaders in both the political and government leadership, from every community in the land and from both coast and upcountry, who used their influence to grab and own prime land and parts of beaches for themselves, and never for their communities in every part of the country.

 Between these two categories of Kenyans, leaders can be called grabbers if they never paid for the land they now own, or if they acquired that land by force from coast people whom they evicted the way colonialists grabbed land by evicting African communities who were its owners.

 Ordinary people can, however, never qualify to be called grabbers because they never waged war, or used government authority to occupy land or evict its owners.

 When opposition leaders call upcountry people land-grabbers, they incite indigenous people who may have or not have land, or even al Shabaab to attack them and also attack the concept of a one Kenya where all Kenyans are equal and entitled to settle in without discrimination.

 In the past, whenever opposition or government leaders in Rift Valley accused people from other communities of grabbing land, locals attacked, killed and even evicted them from their own lands and homes. There is, therefore, a connection between opposition propaganda, Mpeketoni attacks and MRC pronouncements that “Pwani si Kenya” or “Coast is not Kenya.” Arguably, clandestine campaigns by some political and religious coastal leaders against upcountry people are much older than Mpeketoni and other Lamu attacks.

 But why has Cord launched its current campaign against upcountry people at the coast?

 First, it is to blame Jubilee government for coast problems by falsely claiming Uhuru and Ruto are more associated with Moi and Kenyatta regimes, whose leaders grabbed land at the coast than Raila, Kalonzo or Wetang'ula who have been equally associated with the same Kanu regimes.

 Secondly, it is to demonise settlement of upcountry people at the coast as illegal, immoral and inhuman before evicting them to pave the way for establishment of a Muslim Coast Republic exclusively governed by the coast people.

 Three, it is to attract and incorporate coast communities into its envisaged alliance of 40 communities against two – Kikuyu and Kalenjin – or even 41 communities against one – the Kikuyu – Cord’s repeat strategy – like Sabasaba – of winning its referendum campaign as a precursor to winning general elections in 2017 or sooner.

What then is the cure for the crisis at the Coast?

 First, all Kenyans must reject Cord’s strategy of killing Kenya in order to win power through its strategy of rallying majority against minority communities. Leaders should unite not divide Kenyans. Winning elections at the expense of keeping Kenya one is unpatriotic and totally defeatist.

 Equally, evicting upcountry Kenyans from the coast will certainly not be a solution to the current crisis at the coast because it will threaten the very existence of Kenya and the coast itself.

As soon evictions of upcountry people start in earnest at the coast, retaliatory evictions of coast people by upcountry people will commence, splitting Kenya into ethnic republics, most likely along the ethnic lines of the current counties.

As Nyerere predicted, ethnic evictions are like eating human flesh. Once it starts, it never ends until all are dead. Eviction of upcountry people from the coast will only kill Kenya whose death cannot be the solution of the coast problem.

Poverty and unemployment are the root cause of rising crime, and indeed Kenyan problems that must be solved through socialist not separatist strategies of development.

 Finally, Cord leaders must fight negative ethnicity and religious bigotry not just in the rest of Kenya but at the Coast as well. Fanning or ignoring ethnic and religious fault lines at the coast or anywhere else in Kenya can only spell doom for Kenya and its coast as well. Coast and upcountry of Kenya are one. They must survive or perish together.

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