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Report accurately on northern Kenya conflict to encourage genuine healing

By Ibrahim Sheikh Mohamud | November 24th 2015

Lately, there has been an escalation of hostilities in northern Kenya, but which have been grossly misreported by the media thereby aggravating the delicate security situation.

Some media outlets have reduced the land-related inter-clan conflict in the vast Wajir County to mere banditry at a time real solutions should be sought to facilitate harmony.

It is time the media and Kenyans pursued the truth since it is only the truth that shall set everybody free.

The have been several attacks and counter-attacks by people camouflaged as rustlers. The people behind these attacks must be unmasked, named and shamed.

It is important to discuss the perennial conflict in Wajir in its proper perspective because only then, can real and genuine peace be achieved for regional posterity.

Clans such as the Degodia, Ogaden and Aljuran must co-exist to drive the region forward.

Historically, Wajir East was the preserve of the Degodia clan and it stretched from Wajir town along Mandera Road via Tarbaj and all the land to the east of the main road.

Wajir South was the Ogaden homeland and it stretched from Habaswein Bridge through the modern Wajir Town to Wajir Bor.

Wajir West was the Ajuraan homeland and it stretched from Habaswein Bridge through Wajir town and Tarbaj up to Takaba via Mansa.

However, this arrangement was disturbed when the Somali-Ethiopia war erupted in 1977-1978 and displaced thousands of Degodia clansmen from the two countries who rushed to seek shelter among their Kenyan kinsmen. The massive influx of refugees revised the clan arithmetic in the entire northern Kenya areas of Mandera and Wajir.

It is therefore appalling when journalists who lack these historical perspectives distort the truth behind the current land-related inter-clan disunity in Wajir County.

But now that the communities have found themselves wherever they are, peace should remain paramount.

No amount of coercion, distortions or propaganda shall solve the current issues. Only honest arbitration and genuine mediation shall.

Furthermore, it is on record that clan elders had historically resolved that, in order to ensure equity, peace and security in Wajir County, political and economic resources would be divided equitably among clans.

Therefore even though media reports on these issues have been incorrect, the picture must be put right.

Blatant falsehoods only serve to aggravate problems in northern Kenya by antagonising clans.

In the past, when clan interests were arrogantly dismissed and suppressed, clan wars spontaneously broke out with terrible consequences. The Wagalla Massacre of 1983 is a case in point.

It is the honourable demand upon any reporter to commit to the ethical requisites founded on facts, figures and logic when reporting on such sensitive issues. Deceptive journalism is unacceptable.

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