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It’s unfair to blame Kenyan Somalis collectively for every act of terrorism


wajir south mp hon diriye

Wajir south M.P Hon. Diriye

Collective responsibility of a whole community for the actions of a few is a fallacy.

Normally, some are criminals, a few are outstanding heroes or patriots, while the rest are just like the bewildered herd with no idea about anything. Somalis are no different.

The bulk are poor, illiterate and basically concerned about the daily rut they find themselves in. They have suffered from the same ineptitude of their leaders.

The Somali problem is an African problem in which the identity of a person is typified by the existence of another country where one’s ethnic origins lie, separate from the de facto citizenship where one had been forced by Europe to claim domicile. Many African tribes are trapped in borders that absolutely make no sense.

Somalis in Kenya tried separatism for a while but it didn’t work; it made more sense to have access to infrastructure and fertile land than to be confined to a desert.

Once the separatism was over, Somalis became a scapegoat for all kinds of ills resulting in the Garissa, Wagalla and Malka Mari massacres.

At one point in 1989/1990, Kenya deported 25 per cent of its Somali population to Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda. Even some Kanu officials were deported. Every new security problem is blamed on Somalis: banditry, poaching, piracy and now terrorism.

The brief separatist war of 1967 has become an excuse to divide up and militarise the Northern Frontier. Today there is risk of the same warped thinking perpetuating the same flawed and disastrous policies of yesteryear empowered by foreign money and equipment.

Today, spousal conflict may land one in the hands of the ATPU. A soft-haired man taking photographs is a potential suspect and travelling for Muslim men under 40 is becoming a nightmare.

When Kenya invaded Somalia with the excuse of routing Al-Shabaab, many were dismayed. The two-decade conflict has defied any form of intervention because the players have been shifting goalposts.

It started as a revolution against a vicious dictator, mutated into a clan conflict, turned into organised crime by warlords, then spawned piracy and religious militarism and today has two dangerous offshoots, clan fiefdoms and religious fanaticism.

Kenya cannot transform into a frontline state for “war on terror”; it will destroy the little progress made over decades. An alternative means to guarantee security is to police the borders.

Somalis in Kenya are these days holding their breath, lest they be caught in a xenophobic frenzy next time another terrorist comes calling. Eastleigh seems to be under curfew. Most people stay indoors after dark. Nobody is making any long-term investments.

MP, Wajir South.



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