Act urgently to stop ongoing massacre in Kerio Valley


Tot primary school children mourning their classmates during the burial of three children killed last week by bandits. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

According to media reports, at least 106 people have been killed over the last six months in the cauldron of violence in parts of Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Turkana and West Pokot counties.

Children have been murdered while tending to their families’ animals. Entire villages have been wiped out in some attacks. Hundreds of people have fled their homes. 

Yet despite the carnage, the gravity of the problem at hand has not been matched by an appropriate response, let alone public discussion in the media and elsewhere.

The same old problem of systemic marginalisation and wanton neglect of northern Kenya is at play. The victims of violence are rural folk that the government does not consider to be full citizens of the Jamhuri.

The failure to guarantee their physical safety is but an instance of generalised lack of essential public goods and services.

In the eyes of the government, they might as well not exist. Their own representatives are allegedly behind some of the instances of violence.

According to these waheshimiwa, profits over the cattle trade trumps human life. Not even the campaign season will shame them out of their folly.

Even more sad is the fact that the public shares the same deplorable attitudes evident in officialdom – especially in the southern half of the country along the “line of rail” corridor from Mombasa to Kisumu. We cannot hide from this.

The ongoing government inaction is us. In our silence, we are complicit on condemning our fellow citizens to die.

Despite the violence being confined to the remote parts of Kerio Valley, we should remember that criminality is infectious.

The same criminal gangs that are perfecting their trade in the cattle rustling and land theft businesses will soon expand to other sectors.

They will also corrupt our police, the military, the judiciary, parliament, the provincial administration, and other key state institutions. By allowing their criminality to thrive, we are planting the seeds of entrenched institutional corruption. 

The writer is an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University.