Plans are underway to formulate Peace Committee to amicably resolve a bloody conflict pitting two villages in Lamu East Constituency where at least twenty lives are feared lost in revenge attacks betweeen Mbwa Jumwali and Tchundwa residents.
The resolution was reached after a three day meeting under the auspices of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission after it emerged that the conflict between the two villages was raising security concerns in Pate Island where the rivalry fast taking root among the residents.
Speaking to KNA on Sunday in Pate Island, Lamu East MP, Ahmed Sharriff hailed the resolution as a step forward towards resolving a long running conflict between certain affected families from both villages, leading to heightened insecurity in the area.
“I would urge the residents of both Mbwa Jumwali and Tchundwa to give this peace committee a chance at resolving the conflicts that has led to unending hatred and deaths for residents of both villages,” the legislator said.
In a meeting attended by Lamu Women Representative, Ruweida Obo and NCIC Director of Peace and Conflict Resolution, Laban Wario, local leaders and residents from the affected villages, Sharriff reiterated that there was political goodwill to ensure the insecurity situation is resolved.
The conflict between the two villages of Mbwa Jumwali and Tchundwa has become something of a folklore with affected family members sometimes carrying out revenge killings against alleged perpetrators’ family members even as far as Malindi and Mombasa, causing concern especially among the Bajuni community.
He called on political leaders as well as security chiefs to come together in engaging with members of the affected community objectively.
“Political rhetoric will not resolve the issues afflicting our constituency, especially Tchundwa and Mbwa Jumwali in which youths need to be guided towards going to school and finishing their education, rather than spending time engaging in useless banter that could sometimes lead to the loss of lives,” the Lamu East MP observed.
According to a section of locals, low literacy levels is one of the reasons why youths are so easily lured into engaging in crime and petty rivalries that sometimes prove fatal.
“It is up to the community to decide whether we will resolve the insecurity crisis afflicting this area, because the situation is untenable,” Shariff added.
He said the talks would help resolve long stirring conflicts between the two villages and urged all parties affected and involved including security agents to support the implementation process.
His sentiments were echoed by Mbwa Jumwali village resident, Swabra Barzak who said that presently, his village mates could not access Mtangwanda Jetty through the access road which passes near Tchundwa for fear of being attacked while Tchundwa area residents could not access Faza as the same access road passes next to Mbwa Jumwali.
Insecurity in Lamu East has deteriorated over the years, with police failing to make a single arrest over the long running attacks that have so far left 20 dead and hundreds maimed.
The NCIC Director, Liban Wario who also spoke to KNA said that he supports a peaceful resolution, which he said could only be reached if members of the community agreed to work with the law to bring to book those who carried out such attacks.
He said the code of silence among members of both villages regarding these revenge attacks is unfortunate considering the conflict is between members of one community and a shared religion.
“There is need for a social re-engineering in Lamu East especially in Tchundwa and Mbwa Jumwali where literacy levels are quite low,” Wario said.
He noted that despite mega projects being launched in Lamu, youths were still engaged in petty conflicts that have proved fatal for the socio economic development of the area.
“A system of organized crime and gangs among youths in Lamu East needs to be dismantled and the peace initiative needs to be supported by all parties affected in order to build the community,” the NCIC director said.
Speaking separately, Haki Africa Lamu Coordinator, Yunus Ish’Kia Ahmed said that the police needed to step up efforts to engage the community constructively to resolve the conflict between the two villages.
He blamed high unemployment levels among youths as the main cause leading to the attacks as well as parents not being at the forefront of rectifying their children in cases where they may be involved in the attacks.
The Lamu Red Cross Coordinator, Kauthar Ali voiced her concern over the spiraling conflict which has also claimed the life of one Red Cross volunteer who was hacked to death while running a tack shop in the Island.
The Peace Committee will constitute members from both villages who will be tasked with finding resolutions that will hold the peace between both villages.
By Amenya Ochieng