By Godfrey Okoth Onyango, BA, MA
Program Manager, SCCRR
For the past four years, Shalom has been involved in empowering the communities in Tuum and Parkati (Samburu North) with the analytical skills of peace building and conflict resolution techniques. This has been a ferocious violent conflict zone dating back to the 19th century. The involvement of Shalom has now enabled the Samburu and Turkana communities living in Tuum and Parkati respectively to come up with 2 separate but co-operating peace committees which have been very instrumental in establishing peace between them. Indeed in November 2016, an Irish delegation led by the Irish Minister for Oversees development Mr. Joe McHugh in the company of the head of Irish Aid Mr. Michael Gaffey, the Irish Ambassador to Kenya Mr. Vincent O’Neill alongside a host of other guests visited Tuum to witness the peace-building/development efforts that have been undertaken by Shalom together with the peace committees. The meeting was also attended by representatives from the government of Kenya and the local Justice and peace actors. Alongside observing the positive evidence of Shalom’s peace and development efforts, the three day meeting was also a joint initiative between the peace committee members to plan on how to further consolidate the interethnic problem solving efforts that they have continuously been undertaken to enhance greater social cohesion and prosperity.
The peace committees have been successful in preventing the incidences of violent conflict between Tuum and Parkati as a result of their constant monitoring of the early warning signs and initiating joint actions aimed at prevention. Shalom’s analysis of the conflict situation and progress towards peace between Tuum and Parkati has established that there is a progressive improved relationship between the Samburu of Tuum and the Turkana of Parkati. For example of the ongoing progress, according to Albert Ekaale, the spokesman of the Parkati peace committee, the communities have for the past 8 months been able to jointly share a former contested water point at Lemuny near Parkati as a result of joint dialogue meetings that were initiated by the peace committees. Furthermore, a peace pact was reached between the Turkana and the Samburu to always provide each other with information about matters relating to security as well as share the available resources.
Owing to this agreement and the growing relationship between the peace committee members, 3 major incidences of attempted violent attacks were prevented in the area. In one incident, a group of dissident Samburu warriors from South Horr were planning to attack the Turkana of Parkati. Contrary to the usual norm where the Samburu would allow their fellow Samburu people to attack the Turkana, the peace committee members of Tuum played a crucial role in preventing the attack on the Turkana by prevailing upon their fellow Samburu leaders of South Horr to convince these dissidents against proceeding with the attack. In another incident, some Turkana warriors from Baragoi (Nachola) were to raid the Samburu of Tuum. Just like in the previous case, Raphael Leparkiras, a Samburu and the chief of Tuum location reported that the fellow peace committee members from Parkati communicated to them the news of the impending attack; a development that discouraged the attackers from going on with their plans. In the third incident, 3 Samburu warriors from Tuum had stolen Camels from a nearby Turkana village called Nachola in Baragoi. In the spirit of maintaining peace, the 3 were reprimanded by the leaders of Tuum peace committee and all camels were returned to Nachola.
The peace committees from the Samburu and Turkana have been very helpful to their respective communities by supporting the search for peace and educational development as a joint effort. This has contributed a great deal towards strengthening the increasing peaceful relationship between the Turkana of Parkati and the Samburu of Tuum. Shalom will remain in the frontline supporting and funding the peace and development efforts undertaken by the Turkana and Samburu communities living in Tuum and Parkati as they work towards greater interethnic cohesion and joint prosperity.