23 January 2005

Kenya: Water Wars Erupt in Narok

Nairobi — A man was speared to death and a chief seriously injured as members of two communities clashed over water in Mai Mahiu yesterday.

Unconfirmed reports indicated there could be more fatalities as the Kikuyu and Maasai communities took over the main road leading to Nairobi and attacked passengers believed to belong to either tribe.

Travellers to Nairobi, Narok and Nakuru were yanked off vehicles and forced to show their identity cards to avoid being attacked.

The clashes are said to have erupted when a vehicle belonging to Longonot Chief, Samuel Kiberengenye, was reduced to a shell by an angry mob who set it ablaze on his farm yesterday morning.

Kiberengenye was admitted at Kijabe Mission Hospital with serious head injuries.

Witnesses claim trouble started when a group of Maasai youth accused the chief of taking sides over the use of Ewaso Kedong River.

The youth, armed with spears, clubs, bows and arrows had earlier invaded the farm of Ndeiya ward councillor, Mr Ndungu Njenga, destroying four power lines and over 200 water pipes.

They accused the civic leader of blocking the river and using the water for irrigation, leading to an acute shortage down stream, leading to the death of their livestock.

In the ensuing melee, one person, whose identity could not be immediately established, was speared to death.

A shaken Ambia Musa, who visited our newsroom, said she and other travellers were forced out of a minibus to prove they were not Maasai.

She said a gang of Kikuyu youth nearly killed a fellow traveller wearing a shirt with Maasai cultural colours, but his identity and accent saved him.

Police had been unable to restore calm by the time of going to press as running battles between the two communities continued .

A contingent of armed security officers was deployed to the area, though Musa said she saw the security vehicles parked at a far distance from the centre of the clashes - the junction leading to Narok at the Mai Mahiu trading centre.

Area District Officer, Kamau Karungo and other government officers, are said to have toured the clash-hit area.

Meanwhile, tension mounted in the sprawling Koma Rock plains in Kangundo after Maasai herdsmen from the neighbouring drought ravaged Kajiado district drove thousands of cattle into private ranches.

The invasion by the herders, which began two weeks ago, has sparked tension between private ranchers and the pastoralists who have defied orders to leave the plains.

The ranchers yesterday demanded the transfer of the Matungulu division officer, Mr John ole Tutui, whom they accused of encouraging the herdsmen to invade their ranches.

"We demand that the DO be moved from Matungulu since he is an interested party," Kioko Luka, a rancher in the area, said

The ranchers said that the Maasai cattle risked spreading diseases to their livestock and that the presence of the herdsmen posed a security risk.

Kangundo MP Moffat Maitha ordered the herdsmen to vacate the plains and urged the government to probe the role played by the District Officer and the area chief in the Maasai invasion.

Copyright © 2005 The East African Standard. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.