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May 27, 2018

Tiaty’s problems self-inflicted

"A visit to Tiaty reminds one of the 1950s — an indication that the constituency is stuck in a time warp."
"A visit to Tiaty reminds one of the 1950s — an indication that the constituency is stuck in a time warp."

Despite the fragile peace after a bloody 2017, Tiaty constituency in Baringo county is still in the woods. The remote constituency is descending further into the abyss of self-inflicted pain. The context of this scenario is years of attacks on neighbouring Tugen and Ilchamus communities by the Pokot natives of Tiaty. Successive years of conflict have culminated in underdevelopment in all aspects of life.

Education is on the brink of collapse. As schools across the country opened their doors for a new term in January after the long holidays, Tiaty’s children are still at home. There are almost 200 schools across the constituency that face closure until a solution to the water shortage is found.

One might ask why Tiaty is suffering from a water shortage and yet President Daniel arap Moi was in power for at least 52 years, first as Vice President then President ( 24 years). When Moi was in power, this area was as hostile as it is today. Civil servants such as teachers and NGO personnel left an still leave the area as soon as they are posted there because of perennial insecurity. As a result the area is wallowing in abject poverty. Who can risk life and limb digging boreholes when their lives are in danger?

As in other communities, there are peace-loving people in Pokot but there are groups hell-bent on anarchy. These are the people dragging the area backwards. The unforgiving environment compounds the problems. The community must look inwards. It cannot be in a cattle-rustling mode forever.

Water is the centre around which life rotates. Without this important resource, other problems worsen. Its scarcity has been one of the major factors igniting conflict between the Pokots and their neighbors.

A visit to Tiaty reminds one of the 1950s — an indication that the constituency is stuck in a time warp. Nothing positive comes from this area except tears and blood.

NGOs have tried to push the area to be on par with other areas, but it has been an effort in futility due to incessant violence meted on other communities. The Tugen and Ilchamus are sitting ducks and have borne the brunt of attacks since Independence. They have lost cattle and other livestock to Pokot warriors who have never been brought to book. There are young Tiaty men who have turned a bloodless culture into a bloody business. Cattle-rustling entrepreneurs are a phenomenon and stolen livestock are transported in the blink of an eye to butcheries in Nairobi and major towns.

Traditionally Pokot warriors used to raid their neighbours to get cattle for dowry, but this has since morphed into something much more sinister. They now kill women and children without flinching. In 2017, more than 200 people were killed in cold blood in camouflaged cattle-rustling sprees. Security agents were also mowed down by the bloodthirsty raiders.

What’s worse is that the local leadership is blind to the suffering of the people. How long will schools remain closed? It is not normal to close schools while other Kenyan children continue schooling.

Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and Tiaty MP William Kamket (both Kanu politicians) can make a difference in this community. Recently, Kamket launched a drive called ‘Operation Rudi Shuleni (Operation Back to School)’ to encourage children to go to school. His efforts however will not gain traction with all these attendant problems.

Kamket and Moi should work together in convincing the community to embrace education and modern economic ventures so the area can get water projects and other development projects.

Since the 1960s, the area has been bedevilled by an evolving cattle-rustling culture that includes bloody attacks on other communities. Tiaty is the official nerve centre of everything negative in Baringo county. It is time this reputation was done away with.

It is one of the most undeveloped constituencies in the country. The sorry state Tiaty finds itself in cannot be blamed on marginalisation but self-inflicted damage.

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