Setting Aside Differences, Running for Peace 

 
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“We (morans) used to fight over cattle raids with our rivals, but after the marathon and open peace dialogue sessions, we have made friends with other morans from different ethnic communities whom we used to consider as enemies,” - Emmanuel Nakono, 2019 Inter-Conservancy Peace Marathon winner.

Emmanuel was one of 300 young men who took part in the annual sporting event on 23rd May, which aims to bring together morans from different ethnic groups across northern Kenya’s community conservancies. Surrounding the race itself, facilitated dialogue sessions spearheaded by community conservancy leadership fostered peace-building between different groups over three days. 

A total of 32 community conservancies across seven counties, among them Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo, Meru, Marsabit, West Pokot and Baringo, were represented at the event, which took place in Ltungai Community Conservancy, Samburu County.

Nakono, who is from Namunyak Community Conservancy (Ngilai West Unit), is now a peace ambassador for his area following his participation in the marathon event. The livestock herder challenges his peers to embrace dialogue and shun violent confrontations. Not easy when conflict often spans generations, and is exacerbated by resource-conflict in dry seasons.

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The event was supported by the Northern Rangelands Trust,  DANIDA, World Vision, IMARA and the Stockholm Environment Institute. Dialogue sessions resulted in many youth, drawn from warring pastoralists communities, agreeing to peacefully share limited pasture and water, and end conflict.  Many of the young men admitted to being involved in raids, road banditry, and inter-community conflict with the same people they were now sharing stories and meals with. 

“Some morans could not see each other eye to eye due to conflicts, but today, they have embraced each other and have become peace ambassadors and volunteers who will help us broker peace, stop planned cattle raids within their community conservancies, and resolve conflicts within their communities,” said Moses Lerosion, NRT’s peace building administrator.

The marathon is the second in a series of community conservancy-driven ‘sport-for-peace’ events, aimed at enhancing ongoing reconciliation efforts between different ethnic groups in the region.

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Samburu county assembly speaker Solomon Lempere, who flagged off the marathon, said the platform will help morans socialise and advocate for change.

“The County government will support initiatives that seeks to promote peace to ensure that we bring warring communities together and change their lifestyle from cattle rustling to conservation and peaceful coexistence,” he said.

 
Sophie Harrison