Why the key to ASAL community aspirations is devolution

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NAISULA LESUUDA

Since 2009, I have been part of The Peace Caravan, an initiative that has relentlessly championed the cause of peace in Kenya’s Arid and Semiarid Lands (ASALs), which are predominantly inhabited by pastoralists.

Notable Peace Caravan veterans comprise professionals from pastoral communities, among them Principal Secretary (PS) nominees Richard Lesiyampe and James Teko Lopoyatum.

The central message of The Peace Caravan urges all ASAL communities to embrace development and abandon cattle rustling and the killing of fellow humankind in a cultural practice that is clearly overtaken by time.

That two key drivers of The Peace Caravan have been as much as identified as material for PS nominees in the current government is in itself great motivation to many more amongst our communities.

These nominations should be resounding testimony that ASAL communities too should aspire for national leadership and press on towards higher levels of professional excellence whilst being trustees of their communities.

Because of the very character of the ASALs, neither devolution nor privileged positions of some of their very own will translate into greater well being 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 living in ASALs, is for instance, a cultural practice that does not 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Rather, it is more of an outdated hangover of pre-modern bravado that ought to be replaced with 21st century human development pursuits.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.

(Lesuuda (OGW) is a Senator, communication consultant and peace ambassador).

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  • yuyu

    Cattle rustling should be classified as a crime committed by thugs and robbers not communities. This is start that should initiated by the media and the communities. Time and time again we hear of Pokot or Samburu cattle rustlers. I have never heard of “suspected Kikuyu or Luo burglars” in any report; and I’m sure we have plenty of such thieves. Keep up the good work Naisula!

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