“People call Honorable Chachu a coward. They call me a coward. This is because we seek peace. They say we are dead wood because they cannot encourage us to fight. We don’t accuse anybody and we don’t encourage anybody to fight. We shall never do it. In Kenya the major challenge to our peace is politics. We politicians are only at our ugali. We think the best way to get elected is to incite you to fight, especially if we cannot initiate any tangible development. Don’t listen to any of us who say go and fight. As long as there will be peace, I’ll be happy. I have accepted even to be called a coward.
“After I had been in office for just two months, two Borana were killed and many animals were stolen. My community of Borana wanted revenge. I held a baraza where I said peace. There was so much hatred towards the Gabra. I was left alone in the baraza. The crowd just walked away. When we were campaigning before the elections, there were many candidates. I was the only one against fighting. I said, “Let us share resources with Gabra.” But my opponent said, “He is just seeking votes from Gabra.”
“I know there are many people who have been affected by that conflict on both sides from Borana and Gabra. How good is it when we sit together, make jokes together, and discuss our problems? The problems we ourselves have created mean that we can’t even access resources. Turbi people cannot access the water at Rawan and Walda, and then Rawan and Walda cannot access the grass on the Tuirbi side. Why don’t we laugh and talk and discuss our problems the way we are sitting under the shade here? That is the way to come out of our problem.”
Hon. Hussein Tari Sasura, MP for Marsabit, Kenya speaking at the recent Maikona Gathering
From 17th – 19th July, 250 people gathered at the Gamura Wells near Maikona, Chalbi in northern Kenya to discuss how to expand peace along the Ethiopia/Kenya border from Seberei in the west to Moyale in the east. The gathering followed another peace gathering held at Dukana on the Ethiopia/Kenya border in June 2009 to which communities from Dukana and Dillo invited pastoralists and government officials to hear about the peace accords they made in November 2008 and find a way of expanding them to other communities in the area. While the Dukana gathering agreed to extend the peace, they felt that pastoralists and government officials from Sololo must also be involved in the process. They therefore tasked the Pastoralist Shade Initiative, a group of pastoralist elders from across Kenya and the Ethiopian Oromia Pastoralists Association to organise this second gathering. (See Dhadacha Nagaya, the report of the Dukana Gathering).
People from the Sololo district in Kenya attended the Maikona gathering and talks focussed on how to bring the Sololo and Turbi communities into the peace accords. Both communities accepted peace during the meeting and debated how it should be implemented. They accepted the Dukana Dillo declaration which gives a set of fines and punishments for any future lost animals, injuries or death and they accepted ebb, a traditional blessing where a new start is made and past issues are left behind.
The communities at the Maikona meeting made the following declarations:
“The Borana of Kenya announce that it is peace for us without any conditions. We have accepted peace. The Gabra people accept peace too.”
“We have decided that from this meeting on, you Gabra have the right to use all our resources equally. [We will make] an inter-clan committee of Borana and Gabra that will oversee the rules of access to resources.”
“We propose an elder’s committee. We need a period that will be facilitated by this committee working on peace between these communities until things take off and we have engagement and interaction.”
“Animals from both communities have strayed. We should return these to their owners.”
“We should be people together, giving each other information – where lost animals are etc – all information”
“We hope to have another meeting in Walda in a week’s time that includes people of Moyale and Sololo so that issues we have discussed here can be handed over to the people there and implemented.”
“The issues of [district] boundaries is the preserve of the government. It is not for us to deal with.”
“We don’t have to run to the government to sort out our issues. We can use our own systems. We can sort out our daily life issues through our own traditional system.”
“After this meeting we should have a lot of other small events, small activities to talk to the people and mobilise them for peace.”
The gathering also agreed to adopt the Dillo and Dukana declaration which decrees that:
1. If a person is caught with a stolen animal, the fine is four animals per one animal stolen and the culprit has to pay the expense incurred for tracking that animal.
2. If anyone injures another person with intent the penalty is 15 cows.
3. If anyone kills a person, the penalty is 30 cows.
4. If someone is putting out lies and propaganda, inciting people to fight, this is very serious. It is worse than fighting itself. He is fined expenses and five cows.
5. For the man who conceals a culprit or information, both the concealer and the concealed are fined the same. E.g. a man who hides another man who has killed; both are fined 30 cows.
In all these cases the culprit also goes to court.
The Walda community is now organising the follow up meeting which will be attended by pastoralists and government officials from Maikona, Forole, Turbi, Sololo and Moyale. It will take place on 27th and 28th July 2009.
The Dukana and Maikona gatherings were supported by the UK DFID’s Democracy, Growth and Peace for Pastoralists project and the local communities who hosted the events.