Building peace through cricket

Traditionally, pastoralist communities in the region raided each other and sedentary communities for livestock. This was primarily to replenish their herds depleted by severe droughts, disease, raiding or other calamities. Raids were also orchestrated to expand grazing lands, raise bride price and to a lesser extent to demonstrate heroism among warriors. In the past, elders often sanctioned such raids, blessing the raiders before they set off.

However, in recent times, inter-communal rustling has become more frequent and severe, degenerating into a militarized activity with no precedence in the history of the cattle rustling. The extent and viciousness of the clashes have puzzled even the elders in the affected communities as it manifests itself with devastating acts of human slaughters, rape, burning of pasture and settlement structures, abductions, and utmost revenge instigated by the youth.
Today’s incidents of cattle rustling are driven by hatred, political instigations, unscrupulous commercial activities, general crime, and availability of firearms. Plans and execution of such raids are done with flagrant disregard for pastoralist norms of war and respect for human rights.

Consequently, women, children and the elderly have become exposed to vulnerabilities precipitated by these conflicts. They have overwhelmed the security operations, eroded traditional conflict management mechanisms and adversely impacted on pastoral mobility and environmental resources. This is a common situation that characterizes larger parts of Laikipia communities of the Pokot, Turkana, Maasai and Samburu people who are largely involved and affected. This has remained the major challenge for peace building in the project area.

This project will intervene through proactive engagement of the youth from the pastoral
communities in this region and also with cross-district involvement in sports, such as cricket. The project will reach out to the youth using the traditional structures and following the norms laid out by the specific
community in reaching out to their youth. At the same time the programme will reawaken and revitalize the traditional mechanisms of peace building among the different communities. The community elders will be facilitated and enabled to carry out traditional peace building and conflict transformation strategies.

The Maasai Cricket Warriors have participated in the annual Laikipia Highland Peace For Sports Games, held at Ol Ari Nyiro, Laikipia Nature Conservancy in Western Laikipia, for the past two years. The Laikipia Highland Games aims to use the fundamental values of sport and play in fostering goodwill amongst communities, building relations, bridging divisions and contributing to improving the living conditions of youth across the tribal divide, by harnessing the natural competitive spirit of youth and the great potential of the Kenyan highlands athletes.

The Laikipia Highlands Games attracts athletes, schools, children, women, elders and diverse tribal youth dressed in their traditional attire. By giving participating tribes and communities involved in tragic disputes and rivalry an opportunity to meet in neutral ground, the Games offered tribute to the healing influence of sport, and a poignant reminder of the power of the human spirit to overcome disparity.