Monday, March 13, 2017

On the Laikipian "invasions" (again)

This deadly convulsion is an escalation of what has been an untreated low-grade fever with the proliferation of arms among pastoralists, an almost certainty for the outbreak of deadly violence. (Daily Nation, Underlying factors in Laikipia crisis)
This sentence distresses me. It was written by the President of the Law Society. It is written with the confidence of the lawyer opining on a matter beyond his ken. It is written with little thought as to its inherent bias against the pastoralist. It is written to reinforce the unspoken rule: Pastoralists are backward and don't deserve official recognition as legitimate members of our society.

"...with the proliferation of arms among pastoralists" is treated as the spark that lights the tinder of the "low-grade fever". This "fever", kind people, are "[H]istorical grievances linked to access to animal grazing and water rights and land ownership and use..." No, sir. The proliferation of small arms is not the reason why violence was all but guaranteed. Indeed, the proliferation of small arms is snot the reason why there has been an escalation. The proliferation of small arms was inevitable in the Laikipian plains but it wasn't the reason that the force of arms have come to bear on the Laikipian plains during this drought.

No, sir. They are not "historical grievances". They are historical injustices. No matter how you paint the picture, the Laikipian plains tell the story of peoples that were dispossessed of their land and the dispossession enforced by, yes, the force of arms wielded by legitimate and illegitimate governments for more than a century. Take away their "small arms" and watch them fashion "crude" weapons and carry on the fight.

The "outbreak of the deadly violence" is simply not because every Moran and his uncle has an AK-47. It is because though the Moran is not the only one who was dispossessed, he is one of the very few who's culture was never respected, whose history was buried in English archives and forgotten, whose culture was appropriated by strangers for monetary profit, and whose land is now occupied by tourists, filthy towns and strangers' heads of cattle. The Moran is a stranger in his own land. Arms or no arms, violence was inevitable.

Our identity as a free people is a farce if a people were dispossessed of their land and vilified by their very own government and public institutions as "invaders" and "bandits".

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