Tough call of uniting new Embu
By Joseph Muchiri | May 4th 2012
BY JOSEPH MUCHIRI
That a rift exists between the Embu and Mbeere communities in Embu County is an open secret.
And the fact that the issue has been politicised has not made things easier.
The Kanu regime split Embu to create Mbeere district with Siakago and Gachoka constituencies believed to be sympathetic to the party at that time.
Embu District retained Runyenjes and Manyatta constituencies, which were perceived as the opposition side.
The Kibaki regime then split Embu into Embu North, Embu East and Embu West districts.
Thus, Embu now has three districts and, ironically, two constituencies.
The perceived hostility between the two sub-tribes is said to be so pronounced that the Mbeere are hesitant to take their children to schools in the other side of the county.
Former Gachoka MP and Co-operative and Marketing minister Joseph Nyagah (Pictured inset) said the hostility has made Mbeere to be left behind in education, leading to a drop in education standards in the region.
He gave the example of the only school for the deaf in the county, St Lukes School for Deaf, which he said has remained underdeveloped because of politics.
“Some people in Embu claimed the Nyagah family deliberately put it in Mbeere, therefore the Embu people have no business contributing to its development,” said Mr Nyagah during a meeting with residents at his home early this year.
The younger generation of the Mbeere, however, does not value clanism and see it as a hindrance to their well being.
Over 1,500 youths from Mbeere have teamed to tackle divisions between the two clans of Mbeere — Ndamata and Mururi.
Under the name Universal Voice for All, they also seek to end disunity between the Embu and their community.
Peter Njeru, an Embu elder, says the divisions have been rife everywhere including churches. However, he says the old rivalry is on its deathbed.
Mr Njeru says high levels of poverty in Mbeere have made the community to feel marginalised.
Most of Mbeere is a semi-arid region and susceptible to food insecurity. The area has in the past relied on food aid. The Embu side is agriculturally rich.
However, he says, the fortunes of Mbeere have changed considerably due to exploitation of its many resources like sand, stones, miraa, livestock and power generation among others.
Roads are also coming being improved. The county council has developed roads leading to quarries to ease access to stones.
“The late minister Jeremiah Nyaga, a Mbeere and the late MP Kamwithi Munyi, from Embu, and their supporters caused the rivalry but that is now in the past,” said Mr Njeru.
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