By Naisula Lesuuda
Since 2009, I have been part of the ‘The Peace Caravan’, an initiative championing peace in Kenya’s Arid and Semiarid Lands (ASALs), predominantly inhabited by pastoralists.
Notable Peace Caravan veterans comprise professionals from pastoral communities, among them Principal Secretary nominees Richard Lesiampe and James Teko Lopoyatum.
The central message of the Caravan urges all ASAL communities to embrace development and abandon cattle rustling and killing of fellow humankind in cultural practices clearly overtaken by time. That two key drivers of the Peace Caravan have been as much as identified as material for PS nomination in the current government is itself great motivation to many in our communities.
This nomination should be resounding testimony that ASAL communities too should aspire to national leadership and press on towards higher levels of professional excellence while being trustees of their communities. Because of the very character of the ASALs, neither devolution nor privileged positions of some of their own will translate into greater wellbeing without peace being the cornerstone. Peace in the ASALs is complex. Lack of it is not about sheer delinquency and disregard for the law. Cattle rustling, common among many pastoralists for instance, is a cultural practice that does not only deliberately aim at disrupting peace and harmonious co-existence among neighbouring communities.
Rather, it is more of an outdated hangover of pre-modern bravado that ought to be replaced with 21st Century human development pursuits. As long as such practices persist and as long as the government of the day does not identify the root cause of the breakdown of peace among pastoralists, ineffective deterrents will continue to be prescribed for such quests as peace and security in these areas. More....