News / Africa

Kenyan Community Faces Escalating Violence Amid Tribal Clashes

Gabe Joselow
TANA RIVER, Kenya — The Orma community in Kenya's Tana Delta region launched a revenge attack on the rival Pokomo clan Friday, killing at least 10 people. Orma men had been threatening to retaliate for a raid on their village last month by Pokomo fighters that killed more than 50 people.
   
Weeks after their village was raided by members of the Pokomo clan, men in the Orma community say they are getting ready for a fight.
 
The government has tried to mediate peace between the communities, but villager Hassan Leke said they would rather take matters into their own hands.
 
“We are requesting the government to leave us alone with the Pokomo to sort out our differences. We no longer want peace. We want the war to continue. We want it to continue to the end,” said Leke.

Pokomo raid kills mostly women, children
 
On August 22 of this year, the Pokomo clan raided a village occupied by the Orma, killing 53 people, mostly women and children. Hundreds of animals also were slaughtered, depriving this pastoralist community of its livelihood.

Hundreds of families have been displaced by the fighting in Tana River. The Red Cross has set up three camps to assist some 230 households they say were affected by the violence.
 
Many Pokomo also have fled to the camps, fearing retaliation.

Revenge attacks could spike
 
Ruth Sanyo is a Luhyo woman married to a Pokomo man.
 
“We are scared because there is still tension around our homes," said Sanyo. "We can’t go back there because if the Ormas get us, they will kill us.”
 
The two communities have fought over resources for years, but officials say the recent violence has taken on a political dimension as politicians fight for power ahead of next year’s elections.
 
Kenya’s defense minister has ordered an investigation of Assistant Minister for Livestock Dhadho Godhana, suspected of involvement in the attacks.
 
Suspicion about political involvement

Godhana told Kenyan investigators in Nairobi Thursday he had no role in the violence.
 
“There was tension already arising from the conflicts between, misunderstanding between the farmers and the pastoralists and then followed by other instances of injuries, and then murder and all that," said Godhana. "So already the situation was building up. So, in my view, we have to get deeper to understand which hand was really behind these other series that led to the clashes now.”
 
Underdevelopment remains a challenge in the area. Some Orma say they want the government to play a more productive role by building hospitals and schools. Fuad Hajj is among those who want development rather than war.
 
“Education is very important to sustaining a family and uplifting one’s life," said Hajj. "So we are asking the government to build for us new schools and homes so we can continue with our livelihoods.”
 
Tana River is not the only region in Kenya seeing inter-ethnic fighting this year.
 
Red Cross officials say if nothing is done, violence across the country could be worse than after the last presidential election in 2007, in which more than 1,000 people were killed.
 
Amos Wangwa contributed to this story.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs