Pastoral conflict in Kenya: Transforming mimetic violence to mimetic blessings between Turkana and Pokot communities
Livestock raiding has been a source of conflict amongst and between pastoral societies in Africa for hundreds of years. However, more recently, these raids have become more violent and have triggered much more organised retaliations. Many times raids themselves are perceived as motivated by ethnic dimensions. The following paper looks at tensions and conflict between Turkana and Pokot communities in rural Kenya. The paper first traces the historical context of cattle rustling and livestock raiding between pastoral communities within Kenya. It then identifies contemporary factors driving exacerbated tensions: access to resources, profiteering, and weapons proliferation. The paper further explores the systemic nature of the conflict through analysing livestock raiding as a conflict spiral dictated by negative reciprocal actions. The spiral is ultimately maintained due to mimetic violence structures that are in place. It then offers prescriptions and potential solutions to the conflict, which are centred on transcending the relationship from mimetic violence to mimetic peace and reconciliation. Ultimately, by empowering local pastoral communities in the form of multi-ethnic coalitions, and promoting broad-based interest groups, cultural transcendence can reverse the conflict spiral into a relationship of mutual reciprocity and mimetic peace.