News / Africa

Kenyan Troops Try to Keep Peace in Tana River

Hundreds of homes like this one were burned to the ground, and 38 people died in the massacre, carried out by Pokomo militia, in Kilelengwani, Kenya, September 2012. (VOA - R. Gogineni)Hundreds of homes like this one were burned to the ground, and 38 people died in the massacre, carried out by Pokomo militia, in Kilelengwani, Kenya, September 2012. (VOA - R. Gogineni)
x
Hundreds of homes like this one were burned to the ground, and 38 people died in the massacre, carried out by Pokomo militia, in Kilelengwani, Kenya, September 2012. (VOA - R. Gogineni)
Hundreds of homes like this one were burned to the ground, and 38 people died in the massacre, carried out by Pokomo militia, in Kilelengwani, Kenya, September 2012. (VOA - R. Gogineni)
Roopa Gogineni
Thousands have fled violence that claimed more than 100 lives in August and September in Kenya’s Tana River District. One-thousand paramilitary troops have been deployed to keep a tenuous peace between the Pokomo and Orma communities.  

Today in Kilelengwani, Marabou storks circle the carcasses of cows scattered between the remains of still-smoldering homes.
 
On September 11, a few hundred Pokomo men wielding guns, machetes and spears attacked the village in Kenya’s Tana River District, killing 38 people. Nine of the victims were police officers sent to protect the village. Most others were Orma women and children.
 
In Nairobi, Hussein Dado, a candidate running for governor of Tana River County, received a call from his niece the morning of the massacre.

"I have never been traumatized the way I was traumatized by a call from a woman who ran for safety into the mosque. She is a niece. She called me on the phone and said, ‘Uncle we are being killed, please save us.’ I could hear children crying," said Dado.
 
A village elder in Kilelengwani, Omar Shure, also was inside the mosque. He threw himself against the door, keeping the militia outside the main room. But attackers broke into an adjacent prayer room where several people were hiding.

“They left them, just there, after killing," said Shure. "In the room... two children, five women.”

A victim of the Tana River clashes between the pastoralists and farmers within the delta region rests inside a ward at the Malindi District hospital in Kenya, September 7, 2012.A victim of the Tana River clashes between the pastoralists and farmers within the delta region rests inside a ward at the Malindi District hospital in Kenya, September 7, 2012.
x
A victim of the Tana River clashes between the pastoralists and farmers within the delta region rests inside a ward at the Malindi District hospital in Kenya, September 7, 2012.
A victim of the Tana River clashes between the pastoralists and farmers within the delta region rests inside a ward at the Malindi District hospital in Kenya, September 7, 2012.
The massacre at Kilelengwani followed a string of attacks between the agriculturalist Pokomo and pastoralist Orma communities.  Historically, tensions flare between the two during dry season, when Orma bring their cattle to graze on Pokomo land.

Thousands of Pokomos and Ormas have fled their villages fearing retaliatory attacks. Pokomo elder Suleiman Ludu is staying in an internally displaced persons camp in the town of Witu.
   
"The Ormas, they come to the shambas [farms] and they graze on our plants, and if we refuse, they say, 'if you do not want us to graze here we will beat you and kill you.' So it is better we run instead of waiting to be killed," said Ludu.

International Crisis Group Kenya analyst Abdullahi Halakhe described the conflicting livelihoods of Tana River.

"How can we negotiate this reality? Some argue pastoralism is good for the area, in terms of economic activity, and it gives time for grass and other natural resources to regenerate. Others are dead set on saying that pastoralists should move away from their nomadic livelihoods and turn to agriculture," said Halakhe.

Though people on both sides have been killed, the majority of victims during the most recent violence have been Orma pastoralists.  Survivors describe an organized Pokomo militia, wearing red and black uniforms and having a clear command structure.
 
"They are after this delta, it is the only good delta in Kenya, the only big delta in Kenya," said Omar Bacha, an Orma health worker. "That is why our tribe are being killed, and their cows are being destroyed."
 
The Tana River region contains some of the nation’s most arable, but least developed land. Through the process of devolution outlined in Kenya’s new constitution, local administrators soon will have more control over regional resources.  

A Human Rights Watch report released last week implicates Tana River politicians in the attacks. Last week the government arrested parliament-member Dhadho Godhana in connection with the violence. Godhana is running for governor of Tana River Country in the elections scheduled for next March.
 
In addition to Godhana’s arrest and continuing investigations into the violence, the government has deployed 1,000 paramilitaries to secure the region. Despite these measures, both Pokomo and Orma have been slow to return home.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More