Why inter-ethnic violence is rampant in Kenya

Why inter-ethnic violence is rampant in Kenya
Inter-ethnic violence in Kenya

Inter-ethnic violence is among the major problems Kenya faces as a nation. Inter-ethnic violence leads to destruction of public and private resources. We are giving you reasons why inter-ethnic violence is rampant in Kenya.

Generally, conflict arises when two or more parties have incompatible interests. Kenya is a developing country and this is one of those obstacles that deny Kenya a chance of economic prosperity. This is because inter-ethnic violence,  like the one experienced in 2007, has direct impact on the economy.

Inter-ethnic wars in Kenya are rampant in Meru region compared to other regions. The continuous conflict in the region is mainly between Tigania and Tharaka districts. At some point, the Kalenjins and Kisii fought over land ownership.

The reasons why inter-ethnic violence is rampant in Kenya include;


Politics greatly influence inter-ethnic violence among Kenyan communities. This happens especially when a community believes that their security and survival can be ensured only if power is strictly controlled by one of their own people.

It is true that politicians incite the residents into conflict. Struggle for political power in some of these communities leads to tribal tensions.  Sometimes, aspirants to political offices deliberately turn communities against each other.

Bounder disputes

Bounder disputes occur when there is a disagreement on where the boundary should be between two ethnic groups. The kalenjin and the Kisii recently fought over land. There was a disagreement about where the boundary between Nyamira and Bomet should be. This led to tribal tension which eventually brought about conflict.

Conflict over public resources

Public resources such as schools, air markets, hospitals or even churches sometimes lead to conflict. This happens when these public utilities are situated in an area towards a border between two communities. In this case, each community claims that the utility belongs to them.

For instance, the continuous fight that occurred between Tharaka and Tigania districts in Meru was caused by competing for public utilities. When the two districts were created, each community claimed that the resources belonged to them.

Conflict over public resources occur in Kenya because each community want to claim control over some resources. In this case, conflict arises between ethnic group over which group should access and control the resource in question.

There was also constant fight over limited natural resources such as pasture, water and land in the great land of Meru. Conflict over limited natural resources is actually the leading cause of conflict in Meru.

Tharaka and Tigania are located in regions where there is limited amount of rainfall. For this reason, they have to move in search of water and pasture. This has led to conflict between the two communities because the rules of sharing are not well observed.

Marginalization and poverty

Some communities have been constantly marginalised over the past few years. Most marginalised communities in Kenya are considered to be hostile. Such communities can start war anytime if they are intimidated.

The fact that Tharaka and Tigania of Meru are among the marginalised communities, they are in constant war against one another. This is because, they are so close and sometimes they fight because they need attention from the government.

Poverty also results to inter-ethnic violence. This is because when more people are poor, they tend to compete for the limited resources for survival. Kenyan ethnic groups sometimes fight because of poverty.


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