Samburu and Rendille elders invoke curses on bandits

Samburu and Rendille community elders meet at Milima Tatu area to invoke curses on bandits on January 16, 2023.

Photo credit: Jacob Walter | Nation Media Group

The Samburu and Rendille community elders on Monday met at the Milima Tatu area along the Samburu-Marsabit County borders to invoke wrath on the morans engaging in cattle rustling, robbery and banditry along the Isiolo-Moyale highway.

The invocation known as Faallo among the Rendille or Ldeket among the Samburu communities brought together local politicians, provincial administrators and security agencies from the two counties.

Invoking curses or wrath on hardened criminals by the elders is an age-old tradition among the Samburu and Rendille communities. 

Speaking during the ritual ceremony, Samburu East Peace Chairperson Salim Leseshore explained that such invocations can be made as the last resort to deter hardened criminals after they failed to listen to elders.

“This is a belief by the Samburu and Rendille communities that through such rituals curses can be invoked on the defiant criminals,” Mzee Leseshore said, adding that such people never have peace in their lifetime.

The decision was arrived at after a delegation of community elders and local leaders from Marsabit met their Samburu counterparts at the Ndoyo Wasi area on January 1, 2023.

They were forced to find lasting solution to numerous cases of highway banditry and cattle rustling that had continued to stagnate development along the Samburu-Marsabit borders.

Mr Leseshore added that the Isiolo-Moyale highway as a crucial component of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport corridor was intended to benefit the locals economically but the surge in banditry attacks had made transport along the highway riskier than ever imagined.

Similar concerns were raised by Marsabit South Peace Chairperson Peter Galworsi who lamented that the Merille Livestock Market, a mega project funded by the European Union, USAID, and Kenya government had collapsed due to rampant cattle rustling and highway banditry. 

The project was aimed at securing the region’s pastoralists’ livelihoods through commercialization of the enterprise but due to fear of bandit attacks livestock traders no longer went to the market.

Mr Galworsi revealed that elders who previously connived with or harbored criminals had agreed not to promote criminal activities in the region.

Ewaso Ward MCA Kelvin Lamandan and Laisamis counterpart Daniel Burcha supported the move by elders to invoke curses.

Mr Lamandan said most of the attacks were well coordinated by criminals who were in constant communication with their accomplices who were monitoring movements of vehicles between Laisamis and Merille. The bandits often waylay vehicles ferrying goods or livestock that don’t have security escort.

Bot Sub-County Deputy County Commissioner Pius Murugu and his Laisamis counterpart Langat Bosek said administrations were ready to work with the local communities and flush out criminals in the region.

Mr Bosek assured travelers that adequate security patrols had been initiated along the hotspot areas.

“We are happy that since we held meetings with the community elders from Samburu East and Marsabit South to work jointly towards combating crime in the region, incidents of highway banditry and cattle rustling are on the decline,” Mr Bosek said.