I first became involved in peace work in my community because of a protracted conflict between two major clans in Garissa county. They fought over land and boundaries. Three of us from the two respective clans came together, we called elders from both sides, we talked to them, and we were able to strike a deal. The two clans came together and ended their decade-old conflict.
After that I decided to become a peacemaker. Now, I have been working for 20 years in the area of conflict management.
Livestock is the main source of livelihood for the pastoralist communities living in Garissa county. This livestock depends on pasture and water. So when resources become scarce, and there is prolonged drought then there is always conflict at the water points, until the drought is over.
Conflicts are disastrous. There is displacement of people, destruction of properties, children don’t go to school and hospitals close. When conflicts arise, poverty becomes lord of the day.
We come from an oral society, we have no written culture. It is a poetic society, very rich in oratory and literature. We talk to people about ethnic conflict using poetry and other forms of traditional idioms. We hold seminars and workshops, and promote exchange visits between communities.
We can see the impact of this in many parts of the county. Because we are constantly talking with communities, ethnic clashes have reduced. We have brought together clans who have never been brought together before, because of age-old differences. Now they live like brothers and sisters.
Peace is a single parameter, without it nothing can happen.
Peacebuilders should own the process. It is not about making money, it is about humanity. It is about saving human lives. It is about our future. So let them endeavour to enhance their peacebuilding efforts, and ultimately the world will be a peaceful world where everybody lives in harmony.