A White or Bloody Christmas?

Posted on December 24, 2009

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A Merry Christmas to you wherever you may be. Whether you are a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, an African Loibon, a Kamba Witchdoctor, or anything else that you may identify yourself with. For me, Christmas is not so much about the religious connotation that is attached to it but more about the togetherness that it brings to families and friends around the world.

Unfortunately not everyone will have the luxury or the time to sit down and share a laugh and a good meal with friends and family during this year’s Christmas. Take for instance the people of Isiolo and Samburu whose lives will be disrupted by the ongoing Police Swoop on illegal guns. Now, I want to go on record saying that I have seen the dread and destruction caused by the presence of those guns in these districts. Even though I cannot sit here and claim that I totally understand what those folks are going through, I can at east say that have been there and witnessed first hand how people feel when they loose family and friends through senseless killings that are fueled by stupidity, greed, tribal divisions and arrogant politicians who have no regard for the well being of others. I also understand that a lot people in these places hate to have guns but have no other alternative in order to guarantee the safety of their families and property. I am not even for a second condoning the presence of illegal guns but I am saying that we should try to understand what drives some of these folks to trade their bulls for guns and bullets. We do have to put in mind that the pastorolists of East  Africa are some of the most politically and economically marginalized communities in the entire planet. When these guys started fighting about 20 years ago there was no government around to protect them and stop the fighting or even if there was any government, it was incapable of providing the necessary protection. On the other hand, someone was ready to sell them a promise to guarantee safety in form of a gun and a bullet, which in the end was nothing but  a false promise that brought nothing other than more bloodshed and misery.

In short I am saying that, while we realize that illegal guns are bad and destructive, we also should realize that the Kenyan Security Forces and Government are as much to blame as that Samburu, Turkana, Pokot or Shifta wielding a gun somewhere on the plains of North Kenya. One of the fundamental purpose of a government is to guarantee some acceptable level of security to its citizens. It is my firm belief that the security forces and politicians responsible for North Kenyan Districts have failed miserably in executing their role and are now trying frantically to rectify their ineptitude. It is of course good to hear that the Kenyan police are trying to net illegal guns in these places. However, the swoop raids are only fair to all the communities and also only effective if the Kenyan Ministry of Defense made a real commitment to eradicating all illegal guns in North Kenya. The truth is, for the last two decades, the insecurity issue in North Kenya has been nothing other than a National Disaster. I believe that it would have been classified as so anywhere else in the world where there was a real government and media involvement.

 So this should be the solution Mr. Saitoti, the Kenyan Minister in charge of the Defense Ministry: Make a real commitment and come up with a real strategy that will target the Samburu, the Turkana, the Pokot, the Boranas, the Rendile, the Somalis, Shiftas etc. Similarly, you should also involve the governments of Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda if you want to eliminate the cross-border livestock and arms trading. Otherwise, your once in a while lightening raids are nothing but simple political gimmicks to improve your images in preparation for the upcoming elections.  

As you celebrate this years’ Christmas, keep in mind those who are not in a position to enjoy the same privileges that many of us can afford. If you can do anything to help, please do and if you are a Kenyan, when the next election comes, remember that your vote can bring the changes you desire if you use it wisely

Merry Christmas:)

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