Conflict and Vicious Cycles

52 people were hacked to death or burnt alive, among them 13 children and 42 women.  Some 100 houses were reduced to ashes, 300 head of cattle killed, and 1,000 people displaced in the Pokomo retaliation attack on the Orma [for the killings of 2 Pokomo farmers a week before]”.

In Mandera County, six more people were killed on Tuesday night at Rhamu – a day after five others were slaughtered in Jaraqo, Banisa”.

The warning signs had long been documented, but it seems not many of us were concerned. Come yesterday’s images of burned and wounded child survivors, newspaper covers splashed with words like “massacre” and “bloodbath”, and I’m paying a bit more attention.  My first thoughts – in order of occurrence – were: 1) where were the G.S.U/Police – if for some reason our mighty army’s alleged “war on terror” has them completely indisposed?  2) Where did all the weapons come from? And 3) we’re having our general elections in less than a year. *gulp. Some things seem so far away until you remember the electoral violence in ‘07/8.

It stinks of politics. After the post-election crisis of 2007-8, tribal violence, inter-tribal animosity and politics are simply puppet, strings and master’s hand, in my mind. Only the stage or setting change, and these are but platforms on which the audience’s imagination can be manipulated; livestock today, land, water or old forgotten feuds tomorrow, it’s all imagery shrouding the puppet master’s power games. And yet it’s all too real.

And unsurprisingly, on the same day of the massacres, the Defense minister and acting Internal Security Minister Yusuf Haji announced in parliament that the Galole Constituency MP, also the Environment Assistant Minister Dhadho Godana, was inciting Orma and Pokomo communities “for his selfish political mileage”. More questions run through my simple mind but there is no question that for the Defense Minister, this information appears to be reaching him a little too late. Neither do I doubt Godana still walks a free man after Haji stated that “the government” needs to do something about it. He doesn’t seem to know his own job.

But I cannot pretend to be any better really. I don’t understand enough politics to comment about it. And I’d generally rather bury my head in the sand until the storm has passed, hoping it doesn’t rain fire, bullets and machetes on my behind.

In short, I feel afraid because of my ignorance, but I am ignorant because of my fear (and selfishness and guilt), and so it’s a vicious cycle.

What is a poor blogger to do?

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