By Gregory Ngichabe
Shalom has been training key influential people in Mt. Kulal and Loiyangalani with the aim of bringing the Samburu, Turkana, Rendille and El-Molo ethnic groups together geared towards positive peace. Various grass-root community leaders from each ethnic group are empowered with skills and techniques in peacebuilding and alternative dispute settlement mechanisms leading to sustainable peace. Inter-ethnic conflict is mainly between the majority Samburu and Turkana ethnic groups and stems from a variety of factors like the provision of institutional services concerning issues such as the scarcity and management of resources – water and pasture, that sustain their pastoralist way of life. The nomadic nature of these communities forces them to move around in search of these resources and in the process cross paths often with detrimental outcomes; there is theft of livestock and most of the time violence as they compete to feed and water their animals.
In October 2016 SCCRR led the very first successful inter-ethnic meeting aimed at building trust between the various ethnic groups. The meeting allowed for the community members to interact, discuss some conflict related incidences and draw up an action plan. The Shalom Peace Committee members expressed their gratitude to Shalom for bringing them together to rebuild positive interethnic cohesion. The outcome of this meeting was seen when SCCRR visited the area again to train the community leaders on negotiation.
Recent theft of livestock from the Turkana by the Samburu and the consequent return of the animals through peaceful means can be attributed to SCCRR’s intervention in bringing the communities together. Assistant Chief Timothy Lenawamuro stated that the successful inter-ethnic meeting facilitated by Shalom had a direct and positive effect and influenced change of attitude. This in turn led to the return of 27 goats that had been stolen by the Samburu to the Turkana, the exchange was facilitated by representatives of the two ethnic groups in conjunction with government administrative organs.
In May 2017, the SCCRR peace committee members from the four ethnic groups intend to hold another inter-ethnic meeting. This will mark the beginning of a series of inter-ethnic meetings geared towards relationship building, and transformation at the personal, relational, structural and cultural levels. Communities living in Sarima, Loiyangalani and Mt. Kulal will meet to discuss a way forward in the pursuit of peaceful coexistence between the four ethnic communities. SCCRR is committed to continue working tirelessly with communities in the search for the ever elusive positive peace that plagues these areas.