Tuesday, March 30, 2010



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
April 1 2010

Is Turkana a part of Kenya or is it not? Do Turkanas have members of Parliament in Nairobi or do they not? Are there a Provincial and District commissioner whose jurisdictions cover this parcel of land occupied by Kenyans known as Turkanas?

When will these 14 and 15 year old girls now turned child soldiers ever go to school and lead normal lives? When it comes to security in Turkana, are civilians allowed to acquire and own sophisticated guns? Who supplies these helpless neglected Kenyans with such powerful weapons as AK 47s?

Citizen TV’s latest revelations on Turkana are something that any sensible leader of this country should be worried about. The knowledge that guns are available easily in the hands of young defenseless girls and widows whose husbands, brothers and sons have died as a result of raids from other communities is proof enough that our security system has failed us in more ways than one.

I sometimes wonder; when was the last time a Minister for Internal Security or even his assistant ever visiting Turkana to assess the security situation? Is the Internal Security Minister even aware that children, girl children at that, are training one another in military combat techniques? Is the Minister aware that once gun culture takes root in any society, violence will become a way of life? Have we learnt nothing from Somalia next door where every person has a right to a gun?

The insecurity situation that has forced Turkana children to leave school and instead practice gun battle is not unique to Turkana alone. More often than not we see on our television screens wailing children and widows in Isiolo, Garissa, Wajir, West Pokot and Moyale after raiders from neighboring countries or communities have caused mayhem leaving death and destruction in their wake.

Yes, quite often we see the same ineffective security personnel, led by their Internal Security Minister campaigning to disarm civilians! How do you disarm civilians without the ability to provide them with security? Isn’t it like asking them to surrender to their slaughterers?

The security of our citizens in this country is something that seriously needs public debate perhaps at the level of the current constitution debate. It is no longer necessary to assume that this government will ensure the security of our borders, citizens and property. If just the other day Southern Sudan soldiers blocked a whole internal Security Minister together with his Immigration counterpart from touring Kenyan soil on our borders with Sudan, is it really realistic to expect protection from our government?

If in recent times, Somali bandits could cross into our territory and kidnap humanitarian workers, nuns and get away with National Security vehicles, are we sure we have the capacity to police our borders? If the Moyale and Marsabit massacres are as regular as seasonal rains while Migingo Island in Kenya is still under Ugandan soldiers molesting Kenyan fishermen, can we say we have a country called Kenya?

These questions that beg for answers make me miss good old Jomo; may his soul rest in internal peace.

I remember in the early 1970s when Idi Amin had just overthrown Obote from power. At that moment his sights were set on Kagera Salient on the border between Uganda and Tanzania. Amin thought that he would overrun Tanzanian Defense Forces and annex Kagera. But before he did that, he thought Kenyan territory would be an easier target considering that Jomo Kenyatta was aging.

Amin therefore announced that he would annex parts of Western Kenya as far in land as Naivasha. It was at that moment that good old Jomo lost it completely. He called one massive rally that sent a clear message to Amin that Kenya would not tolerate any nyoko nyoko from anybody, Idi Amin included. He was emphatic that under no circumstances would Kenya lose even an inch of its territory to any foreign invader.

If Amin was in doubt, there was the Shifta war being waged in Northern Frontier District where successive Somali regimes had supported their ethnic brothers’ war of secession in support for the Greater Somalia Nation.

With that stern warning, Amin’s claim was never heard of again.

The Turkana crisis is disturbing because not only is insecurity an issue there that hardly gets their MPs’ attention apart from occasional questions in Parliament. An issue of this magnitude calls for much more than occasional question and answer sessions in Parliament. It is wrong to have leaders who only wait to react after lives and property have been lost. In this instance, local MPs, the Provincial Administration, the Police and the Internal Security Ministry stand condemned.

No wonder Lake Turkana is drying up with resultant loss of livelihood for Turkanas as Ethiopia builds a hydroelectric dam that will cut off the river that feeds the lake, yet no single MP has protested to the Kenya government for this disaster in the making.

Now the question to ask is this: who will the Turkanas turn to for help if their government cannot protect them?