Nairobi — A Kenyan gunman killed at least 12 people in a village along the Tana Delta, said Red Cross officials Friday. The attack was an act of revenge in a long-running ethnic dispute over grazing land and water.
Following fatalities last month - in which at least 52 mainly women and children were hacked or burnt to death in the worst ethnic massacre for several years - police brokered meetings between the two rival communities.
The two communities - the Pokomo and the Orma - have clashed before over the use of land and water resources. The Pokomo are a largely settled farming people, planting crops along the Tana River, while the Orma are mainly cattle-herding pastoralists.
"The clashes make me not feel proud to be Kenyan," said Immanuel Muasya, a 21-year-old journalism student at the University of Nairobi. "The clashes lower my integrity status, because it is not good when you are associated with a country that is always fighting."
Speaking to RNW, Muasya added: "In the past one month there have been clashes in Mombasa, there have been clashes in Tana River and it is not looking pretty."
Muasya, who identifies as a member of the Kamba tribe, feels that there must be discussion. "What I would tell the government to do is implement a form of dialogue and teach the Kenyan people right from [the time they begin] nursery to the universities that dialogue is always the best way out."
Like "nothing happened"
In 2001, at least 130 people were killed in a string of clashes in the same district and between the same two communities about access to land and a river.
"After the earlier clashes happened, it is as if no one is bothered with what is going on in Tana Delta. It is as if we are just going on with our lives as if nothing happened," said Muthoni Gitau, a 22-year-old student at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, who identifies as a member of the Kikuyu tribe.
The latest attack happened in the Reketa area of Tarassa in Kenya's south-east, close to the coast and some 300 kilometres from the capital Nairobi.
"I think that the number one effect that these clashes have on the country is that it shows that Kenya is marginalized in some way," Gitau told RNW.
Fellow Kikuyu member Victor Nganga echoed Gitau's observation. "Actually, I do not think the government is doing their homework. The clashes keep occurring and the government never deals with it," he said.
The 22-year-old economics and finance student expressed scepticism about the prospect of peace. "They are saying that in 2013, during the general elections in the country, there will be no clashes," he noted. "However, this shows that if they cannot deal with two tribes in Tana, then they cannot deal with the whole of Kenya."