Minority Waatha tribe of Tana River demand recognition

Members of the minority Waatha community are now demanding recognition by the national government.

Community spokesman Jilo Notu said they had been marginalised economically for decades despite the Constitution stating that all tribes had the right to equal access to resources.

Mr Notu said community members wanted to be given the same opportunities advanced to the youth, women and people living with disabilities.

“We want the Government to hear our pleas. Also, in the coming census, we should be recognised as a distinct tribe and not bundled with others as has been the norm,” he said.

The Waatha community is mainly a hunter and gatherer tribe whose population is spread across the eight counties of Marsabit, Isiolo, Wajir, Mandera, Lamu, Tana River, Kilifi and Kwale.

Some of their members can also be found in Mombasa and Taita Taveta.

“Due to our hunting lifestyle, community members travelled far and wide in search of wild animals and honey. That is why we are not concentrated in a particular place,” said Notu.

Last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed his administration to recognise the Waatha as a tribe and the community was even given code number 45. But inter-tribal wrangles delayed the exercise.

Notu claimed a group in Marsabit, which he described as a sub-clan, was being fronted by local politicians "for selfish reasons".

“In the past we were referred to by several titles. But a sub-clan by the name Wahu is now being fronted by politicians in North Eastern Kenya to advance their political agenda. The Government should step in and put this matter to rest,” the spokesman said.

Bashani Soso, who leads the Waatha group of professionals, accused the Government of failing to look into their welfare.

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Waatha communityTana Rivermarginalised communities