By Sen Billow Kerrow
I rarely respond to opinions from caustic columnists such as Ngunjiri Wambugu. His piece in the Star below had three wild allegations intended to incite disaffection against Somalis from North eastern. He says all the killings in Mandera & North Eastern are not by Al Shabaab but by the local residents inspired by the politicians; that their motive is ethnic cleansing of all upcountry people ostensibly to hide our actions; and lastly, that we are unfairly getting national resources because we used foreigners during the census. I would have disregarded his column with the contempt it deserves.
I chose to post this comment so that folks who may not know should not be apprehensive about the piece.
Firsltly, his opinion is the latest craze by central kenya MPs the past few months, including in a recent retreat in Mt Kenya, and the recent memo they took to the State House that was published in the media last Sunday. This is a perception that NE Kenya is getting more resources than Central Kenya inspite of the glaring historical ,and currently skewed ,allocation of resources.
The PSC report last year on public service employees by tribes is a clear example, which showed Somalis had the worst deficit in terms of their entitlement, while Wambugu’s community had nearly 50% more than its entitlements. In financial resources, the 47 counties share only 22% of this years shs 2.2Trillion national expenditure. Where does the remaining shs 1.7T end up? certainly, not North Eastern that has no roads, water, hospitals, industries, etc 50 years after uhuru!.
Secondly, if the locals are engaged in ethnic cleansing, where is the government security machinery which is run by his folks? If it were true, it would be a terrible indictment of President Uhuru’s government.
If Mandera deaths are by locals, then who is killing people in Lamu, Mombasa, Garissa, Nairobi, etc. Going by his recent actions against alcohol in Mt Kenya, am sure President Uhuru would not allow dozens of people from his backyard to be slaughtered by NE leaders who want them out because of resources as Wambugu put it. After all, the more resources we get, the more workers from upcountry we desire! Not the opposite!
Thirdly, It is no secret that both Kibaki and Uhuru were bitterly opposed to the 2009 census result of North Eastern. After their attempt to ‘smoothen’ NE Kenya figures by reducing all constituencies in the region by 40%, and reduce the entire population from 2.3M to 1.3M was defeated at the high Court, they ordered AG to appeal. I am one of those residents who enjoined himself in the case, and the three county governments of Mandera, Wajir & Garissa are also enjoined. in fact, the next hearing date of the case at the Court of Appeal is 22nd July, next week. It was the first census that was conducted for 7 days & nights, and our people were counted this time round, and we have no apologies to make. We will defend these results up to highest court in the country.
Fourthly, the actual census of Somalis in Kenya was in fact grossly understated, by at least 1.5M. For instance, in the Census report, the entire population of Somalis outside North Eastern counties of Garissa, Wajir & Mandera was placed at 70,000 people only!
Any right thinking person who has been to Eastleigh alone would tell you that there are nearly a million there! Not to mention other parts of Nairobi, Mombaa, Eldoret, Nakuru, Isiolo, Moyale and other parts of the country.
But the very thought of having nearly 4M somalis in Kenya unsettled some people, and hence the Census results were delayed for a year as they sought to ‘smoothen’ it. Even after declaring that there were few or no Somalis outside the region, they again attempted to cancel even the figures from the region. May be we ought not be in Kenya because we are foreigners?
Lastly, Somali population will keep growing by leaps & bounds notwithstanding the high mortality rates Wambugu is worried about because of poor environment. We value family, children and a healthy way of life. We live large – several wives and a large number of children. And we thank God for this bounty and blessing. And the next census may see much more numbers, insha Allah. I think his community needs to worry about how to address factors mitigating against their growth rather attempt to deny our existence by calling us foreigners.
We are Kenyans who have survived 50 years of oppression, marginalisation and persecution under successive regimes in this country. If President Uhuru’s government feels they can disenfranchise us by watching our educational system collapse for whatever reasons, we shall endure as we have done before, insha Allah. Indeed, Senate is tomorrow meeting the CS Education to discuss the collapse of education in the region, and the closure of the only university and other tertiary institutions.
Sadly, our President has never found it fit to comment on the crisis in the region, nor attempt to visit the region even after hundreds were killed by the terrorists.
Wambugu’s opinion does not come as a surprise; their leaders share most of these views!