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Land matters to dominate campaigns in Lamu

By - Awadh Babo Updated Thursday, December 27th 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3
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By Awadh Babo

The battle to control Lamu’s rich  resources has provided a volatile incendiary to the county’s political campaigns ahead of the forthcoming General Election.

Three aspirants are eyeing the governor’s position in Lamu County, an island with a cosmopolitan population that throws the political contest wide open.

Two of the contestants—Lamu West MP Fahim Twaha and Mr Issa Timamy, a long-serving head of the National Museums of Kenya—have had a long-standing rivalry.

Mr Swaleh Imu, an engineer who served as the Electricity Generation Manager at KenGen, is the other contender. 

None of the three aspirants have named a running mate yet.

The county, where construction of one of Vision 2030’s flagship projects, the Lamu port, is underway, has provided a fertile hunting ground for votes, even for presidential hopefuls.

Key presidential aspirants have made exploratory forays in Lamu, especially at Mpeketoni, underlining the strategic interest of this remote region to their campaigns.

Heating up

Famous for the Lamu cultural festival and exciting donkey races, competition for the position of governor is heating up.  

Historically, the indigenous people are the Bajuni (farmers and fishermen), Boni (hunters and gatherers), Wa Amu (farmers and traders), Giriama (farmers), Wasanye (hunters and gatherers) and Orma/Wakore who are pastoralists.

However, the establishment of settlement schemes on the mainland  after independence transformed the county into a cosmopolitan region. And with an estimated population of 101,539, the cosmopolitan composition throws the political contest wide open since no single ethnic community is large enough to wield a majority vote.

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Glance Fact

Welcome to Lamu County

Location: Located in the northern coast. It borders Garissa to the north, The Indian Ocean to the south and south east and Tana River County to the south west and west.

Surface area: 6,273.1km2

Population: 101,539 with a density of 16 people per km2

Capital: Lamu town (proposed)

Constituencies (2010): Lamu East and Lamu West

Registered voters: 51,830

Key national monuments: Boni-Dodori National Reserve, Lamu museum, Lamu Fort, Siyu Fort, Takwa Ruins, Swahili House, German Post Office, Lamu Old Town and Kiunga Marine National Reserve

Poverty level: 31.6 per cent

Resources: Wildlife, livestock, water and tourist attraction sites

Tourist Attractions: National Monuments, Pate Ruins, Manda Island, Maton