Words from Kenya

Guns in Northern Kenya

Northern Kenya 2015

I have mixed feelings about all the guns in northern Kenya. It is obviously scary, and when you hear of people being killed over some dispute in a distant village you instinctively feel that if only all the guns could be taken away things would be so much better. Then someone attacks your village, steals your livestock or asserts rights to land or resources that are vital to you. Then you find yourself looking for some protection. If your village is far from a town there is unlikely to be any police to help you. Then you want the men with guns to be ‘your’ men with guns. The community shares food rations with them, cooks for them, prays for them. Now there are good men with guns and bad men with guns, and it is only a matter of which village you in live that defines them. Without good, reliable, policing there will always be guns in northern Kenya, and for as long as communities need to arm their men to protect themselves there will always be men with guns to be afraid of.


  1. Second, a rehabilitation of the northern rangelands, a diversification away from pastoralism with alternative forms of livelihoods. Management of livestock-carrying capacity on the rangelands should be at the forefront of any such long-term efforts, together with revival of the veterinary standards and regimes that once existed in post-Independence Kenya, and effective measures to market livestock.

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