Friday, 05 Aug 2011

Ethnicity : cause for shifta war

When she travelled to Isiolo to investigate the mass killings that took place in Northern Kenya at the dawn of independence, little did online journalist Rose Odengo know how deeply rooted ethnicity was in Kenya.

“Actually what shocked me was that even after independence, concentration camps were being created on the basis of ethnicity,” says Odengo, who won a TJRC travel grant to investigate the historic event known as the Shifta War.

In the 1960s the Kenyan counter-insurgency General Service Units forced civilians into "protected villages" (concentration camps) in order to flash out shiftas and retrieve illegal firearms. Soon after, stories of human rights violations and gruesome torture and murder were reported.

Since her return from this remote region, she has written compelling stories that have been widely published in two online newspapers and the leading national newspaper in Kenya, the Daily Nation. The newspaper ran her story, Inside Kenya’s Death Camp, as a three-page spread.

Odengo believes that for citizens to push for change, they need the media as allies.

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