Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Prime Minister Raila Odinga
Treasury Building 14th Floor
P.O. Box 74434-00200, Harambee Avenue,
Re: Open letter to Prime Raila Odinga during his visit to Sweden on October 23rd 2009.
Diasporakenyan welcomes you to Scandinavia! We are honoured to share with you our point of views regarding the building of our nation into a successful society. Kenyans are peace loving people; hence we must strive to withhold our moral values that make our nation stable and peaceful.
We have promised each other that we shall remain brothers and sisters even at the times of major policy or political disagreement while we pursue all means to improve our society together. However, there are some issues that must be brought forward because they are fond of being ignored or forgotten.
Systematic injustice and negligence against the Maa people particularly in the Kenyan Northern frontier has recurred ever since independence. This portion of Kenya is a hardship area occupied by nomadic people sustaining themselves entirely with livestock keeping.
The government of late, has been researching for Oil and other raw material and we hope we will succeed in find either of the raw material so that we improve our country’s GDP and the living standard of our people. It is the dream of those Kenyans who live under 1 dollar per day, as Mzee Lenaibor say, to have an entire increase of 9 dollar per day due to Oil resources in our land.
Having said that, we are concerned though, on insecurity in those areas. There is a general cry of the people that they have felt more oppressed ever since the Chinese tractors started drilling on their lands. So far, the society in Samburu are praying that finding Oil in their land will not bring them disaster and course like it has brought to many other African countries like Nigeria for example.
We are hoping that killings in Samburu are not connected with the possibility of Oil or other resources in the area. I am glad to pass a message from a Mzee back at home who said that Lokop and Maa are entitled to moral protection regardless of whether the Chinese will extract Oil for Kenya or whether the Somali on the horn plays a major role in our country’s security matters and economy or not.(Lenaibor)
Another issue is the “inter ethnic violence”. The Samburu people have been the continuous target while media (especially standard newspaper) kept on providing unbalanced reporting of the real issues. It is true that raids and cattle rustling have been associated with some ethnic groups in Kenya since time immemorial but what is happening in Samburu is not just mere tribal conflict or cattle raids.
It is, as KARE (Kenya Aid and Relief Effort) puts it, a very convenient hiding place for genocide-like ethnic cleansing. Reports from KNHCR says extra judicial killings has brought enormous misery to the Samburu people since the GOK paramilitary force took on the Samburu’s and drove off their cattle living women and children in great danger of starving to death. Most of us who have been following the news are convinced that the attacks have characteristics of genocide at its early stage. The worst thing we can do as former President Clinton once said, is to wait until it is too late.
In the raids between the months of February along June, July to September, the government of Kenya has witnessed profound attacks to the Samburu people by neighbouring armed ethnic groups. Additionally, the government forces have numerously contributed to the attacks on Samburu by providing weapons to the other groups and also by sending in military and paramilitary forces to shoot and kill Samburu and rob them from their domestic animals.
From the reports provided by among others, KARE Kenya, and cultural survival, weapons were provided to the Borana, Somali, and Pokots ethnic groups by the GOK. During the attacks on Samburu, things like hand-grenades, artillery and chemical were used to wipe out Samburu villages. Animals are driven out and packed in Lorries to an unknown destination (KARE).
According to your strategic paper, the office of the PM is not a policy implementing authority. Your office works to ‘accelerate Government’s delivery of services to Kenyans.’ It is for this reason we are calling upon you to hear our cry. We are calling on you to improve service delivery, build strong capacity for policy development and coordination, and create a new culture of setting priorities and equally considering all people of Kenya regardless of their regional location.
Killing innocent children and women under cattle rain is surely not a common day to day banditry. It is an evil activity which is implicating the Kenyan government, not only for not doing anything to stop, but for supporting one group to dominate the other. These were the tactics that were used by the colonial power to dis-empowering us.
The Samburu people are singing the Kenyan national anthem and asking themselves when shall justice be their shield and defender or plenty be found within their borders so that they equally recognized?
Can you explain to the Maa people why the government facilitated the killings in Samburu and what the government is doing in terms of compensation and apologizing to the Samburu people? The whole community was punished en mass! In your September 24th speech at Harvard University, on Democracy in Africa, you had a chance to stand up for the Samburu people and support them in their emancipation. The PM office has the capacity to influence the office of the president if that is where the power rests, to provide protection to the Samburu people. We cannot wait until a complete genocide is carried against Samburu ethnic group.
According to my understanding from the speech and the questions you received from the audience, you clearly avoided the responsibility to see the Samburu suffering as intertwined with economical interest of other special groups? Or influenced by the so called “Kenyan new road to wealth and economy” It is not possible to make other conclusion than the fact that you gave political satisfactory answers and come out clean.
Those who know you as a fighter and champion of democracy fail to understand why you completely avoided a one, Tina Ramme’s question during your speech at Harvard University. In fact, in her question, Tina gave you all opportunity to claim credit as an advocate for justice and equality but instead, you went political. L
We have not seen harmony and balance between ethnic groups and animals in Kenya. Coercion, intimidations and systematic oppression against the indigenous people are common. Given the fact you are an afro optimist you are great believer of our people being in a position to eradicate poverty, in fact, even without aid from donor countries.
Kenya is able to mobilize the available natural resources including Tourism to develop our people. We all know that aid is never meant to develop Africa therefore it is significant to break the evil circle of dependency foreign aid but we cannot do that when there are no plans to equally and fairly distribute resources among all ethnic groups.
Maasai, Samburu Turkana and many other ethnicities are systematically ignored and the PM is very much aware of it. What are your solutions to their problems? In your presidential campaigns of 2007, you have repeatedly argued that infrastructure is a number one priority if we will open up Kenya.
What infrastructure have you seen implemented in the Maasailand/Samburu areas despite the ethnic groups being objectified by the state as tourist objects?
Magadi area produces the largest soda and soda products in East Africa but the people in the region are among the poorest well entirely marginalized. In common sense, the people of Magadi should have the natural right to access generated revenues which should be used to improve their lives. The same case applies to the Maasai Mara and the adjacent communities. They all belong to the poorest and mostly neglected groups.
Why is that so do you think Mr. PM? I will not discuss the issue of image use and objectification of our people now because I will do it in my next letter to you.
In any case, I take this opportunity to recommend the PM and permanent Secretary for education professor Kiamba to take the responsibility to ensure that the Maasai children are also given the opportunity to equal and quality education as children in other areas.
In the security front, the government has decided to disarm some of the communities except those who live along the borders of Ethiopia and Sudan and Uganda.
What we are now seeing is that, those ethnic groups from the Kenyan borders are terrorising others even sometimes under the help of the Kenyan government like what have been happening in Samburu areas of Nampur and Naiboy.
There is also a very high likelihood that small weapons from the border ethnic groups are finding their way through to the major cities in Kenya and are used in rampaging crimes.
Common sense tells most of us that you cannot systematically suppress one ethnic group and arm the other, knowing that the two or more groups are constantly competing for the natural resources.
Empowering one group at the expense of the other just because they occupy the border areas is creating a recurring conflict which automatically destabilises the whole society and prevent any attempts to introduce sustainable development. The Kenyan government ought to deploy official troops to the borders instead of using ethnic citizens to defend our borders.
I personally take this challenge to demand from the Prime Minister that he brings up a motion concerning the plight of the Kenyan frontiers and as soon as possible develop policies that recognizes the Maa people on the northern part as equal Kenyans.
As Maa people, we know that our demand is genuine. We are people who are very tolerant and we don’t cry for help unnecessarily. The waiting is unfairly too long. Maa people are not claiming that it is now our time to eat, but we are just asking you to see and hear us as a people of Kenya. Respect and acknowledge us and protect our rights.
Our feeling is that we are cheated all over again by the elected. It is our belief that the PM has the demands of the Maa people as much as those of other ethnic groups, close to his heart because the community invested their voting power on the PM so that he champions their rights. This is what we shall remember hence take with us to the next election, if indeed we survive these hardships. One thing is clear in our minds; our tolerance is wearing out faster than ever.
Maa group occupies a permanent minority position hence, if nothing is done to create balance, democracy will instead become a very powerful tool of oppression automatically used by the majority to outweigh the minority. It will lead to severe suffering of the Maa people. Democracy as it is now cannot help the Samburu children as long as their parent’s votes do not count to equally create balance against the permanent majority.
To save the situation, we are asking the country to reconsider its reservation on the Maa indigenous people and provide special rights for them. We are all advocates of democracy because it gives us a friendly foundation to build a just and moral society that cares for all. We are waiting to see.
Saidimu Ole Ngais.