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Universität zu Köln (2016)

Meanings of Violence and Its Impacts on the Socio-Political Relations among the Turkana and Samburu of Baragoi, Northern Kenya

Okumu, Willis

Titre : Meanings of Violence and Its Impacts on the Socio-Political Relations among the Turkana and Samburu of Baragoi, Northern Kenya

Auteur : Okumu, Willis

Université de soutenance : Universität zu Köln.

Grade : Doctorate 2016

Résumé partiel
This thesis investigates the ways in which the Turkana and Samburu pastoralists groups use violence to negotiate their day to day relationships. Violence in the form of cattle raids, highway banditries, targeted shootings, torching of manyattas, vandalism of key resources such as schools and dispensaries and displacement of the ‘ethnic other’ are deployed by the two groups to gain power, cement in-group identity and eliminate competitors from common resources. In this study pastoralists’ violence is analysed as a resource and an agency through which individual and collective negotiations of socio-political relations between the Samburu and Turkana are carried out on a day to day basis. While pastoralists’ violence in East Africa has been seen in past studies from a moralist perspective as something negative, ‘primitive’ and as a symptom of break-down of law and order, this study, analyses violence as an a tool in the hands of the individual warrior’s, groups of warriors, political and business elites, deployed strategically to meet well planned ends of gaining power at an individual or collective level. To understand the changing meanings and purposes of violence among the Turkana and Samburu of Baragoi of Northern Kenya, this study approaches violence in Baragoi as a product of structural, proximate and processual factors. The interconnection between these three factors are explored through the following key arguments : that violence among pastoralists in Baragoi is part of a historical contest over socio-physical spaces between the Turkana and Samburu that has been ongoing since the pre-colonial times and has exacerbated over the years through the policies of colonial administrators and independent Kenya governments. Further, the regional instability in Eastern Africa has in effect contributed to the ‘normalising’ of violence through the proliferation of small arms and light weapons among the marginalised pastoralists of Northern Kenya. Historical marginalisation of Northern Kenya has further contributed to ‘normalisation’ of pastoralists violence as incidences of massacres are passed-off as cultural killings based cultural affinities among pastoralists. Passing off massacres as ‘cultural’ illustrates government’s disinterest and inability to govern pastoralist’s borderlands. In the contest over socio-spatial spaces of Baragoi, use and threat of violence in this case determines movement patterns of people and their livestock, electoral outcomes, grazing patterns, trading routes, location and access to livestock markets. The changing meanings and purposes of violence is also seen in the way the state interacts with the Samburu and Turkana. Residents narrate chronologies of ‘operations’ where paramilitary police have been deployed to ‘bring peace’ between the two groups. Contrary to the desired peace, these operations have tended to precipitate more violence as the state’s modus operandi of using greater instruments of violence including bombs and helicopter gun-fire have tended to cause deaths of people and livestock. Those who have lost livestock in such operations plan for new cycles of violence aimed at appropriating stock from ‘enemy’ groups and revenging lost lives. In this case the state as an actor in pastoralists’ violence deploys it as a route to inter-communal peacebuilding but it results into more violence. Violence is also analysed as a tool in the hands of political competitors used to gain power. Local elite conduct political campaigns based on their ‘protection credentials’ that is their ability to provide security for their ethnic groups against ‘enemy’ communities. Proof of protection credentials is tenable only through mobilisation of warriors for war, procurement and supply of arms and ammunition to warriors. Pastoralists’ violence in Baragoi is therefore linked to elite competition for and preservation of political power. Competition for political and economic power among elites further facilitates the patron-client networks between warriors, chiefs and Kenya Police Reservists (KPRs) on the one hand and the political and business elite on the other hand and this enables the sale and distribution of weapons used to conduct raids among enemy groups. Incidences of massacres reveal the inter-connectedness of past narratives of violence, to current violent contest and those of the future


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Page publiée le 30 octobre 2017