Looking at the pattern of the Laikipia “bandit” attacks, where big and small farmers, including owners of private ranches and conservancies, are now prisoners on their own land, most Kenyans are not convinced that these are mere bandits or pastoralists in search of pasture for their livestock. Not when schools are being burnt and the people have to flee from their homes to nowhere.
These attacks are well choreographed. Add to this their superior fire power and you have a militia in place. Laikipia suffers skirmishes at every election. If it were purely for the search of pasture, why kill, steal livestock and burn homes? Why target only some communities and foreigners?
The latest security operation, though appreciated, seems to have come a bit late, after most residents suffered heavy losses, including death. A permanent solution should be sought now. The authorities should conduct thorough investigations to determine how the attackers acquired guns.
And do those youths have military training? Their bravado, even against state security agencies, shows an emboldened and injured gang that is above cattle rustlers and your usual bandit. We have seen insecurity in neighbouring countries that started that way.
Politicians have been accused in the past of being a part and parcel of some of the problems. This is another line the authorities should investigate. We are heading into an election next year and memories of the violence of the 1990s and 2007/2008 are fresh.
I vividly remember that, when violence erupted in some parts of Kenya after the disputed 2007 presidential elections, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame cautioned that the Rwandan genocide started in a small way and spread throughout the country to claim almost 800,000 people. We should not wish away Laikipia as a struggle for pasture.
The lives of these troubled souls can only be protected by the government. They need to resume their normal lives with children going back to school. The sooner this happens the better.