Boru Sora stood in front of a pile of tree trunks and rocks in the middle of the road as he explained why he and other residents of his village in northern Kenya are blocking a key trade route to neighboring Ethiopia.
Sora, the 25-year-old leader of a group of Borana youths, says he’s determined to ensure his kinsmen derive some benefit from the development of infrastructure in the area, such as Africa’s biggest wind-power plant, even if it means breaking the law. Clashes between Borana herders and the crop-growing Burji community killed at least 56 people last year, more than double the number in 2012, according to Marsabit County Police Commissioner Erastus Muthamia.
The fighting, rooted in historic clan rivalries as well as competition for water and pasture in the arid region, escalated since the creation last year of a system of county governments, stoking competition for political power. Oil exploration in the north by companies including Tullow Oil Plc (TLW) and renewable energy developments have also fueled the violence.
“The county governments have taken power from us and now with their economic muscles they want to control the lucrative transport business to Ethiopia, control oil exploration and the wind energy project in Marsabit county,” Sora said in an interview last month in Walda near Moyale on the Ethiopian border, about 600 kilometers (372 miles) north of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. “We will not allow only them to own everything.”
Written by Abjata Khalif and David Malingha Doya | Read more at Bloomberg