Pastoralism and the Struggle for Survival in Laikipia
This article is about the unceasing ethnic conflicts in Laikipia West constituency, Laikipia county. The interethnic conflict has continued to be witnessed between Kenya and its neighbouring countries since the colonial era to date in Kenya, mainly in the arid and semiarid areas amongst pastoral communities. Laikipia West constituency has been experiencing perennial conflicts that have been worsening over time. The conflicts have often led to the disruption of social and economic activities and people migrating from their residential areas in search of safer places to settle in. Ethnic conflicts in the constituency can be traced back to 1895 when the white settlers began establishing their homes in Laikipia county. Prior to British colonial rule, the area in Laikipia was under pastoralism by the Maasai and Samburu communities. With the coming of the colonialists, most of the lands were seized and the pastoral communities living in these areas were displaced. Some immigrants resulted in establishing ranches, while other immigrants resulted in irrigation systems leading to the horticultural boom in Laikipia in the 1980s. The first part of this article will seek to unearth the root causes of inter-ethnic conflict in Laikipia, while the effects of the perennial conflicts are examined in the later part. This study employed the conflict theory by Marx, which purports that the existence of different social classes is the continuous source of inevitable conflict and change in the social structure occurring through political upheavals affecting class composition.
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