The Role of Culture in Cross-Border Conflicts between the Maasai and the Kuria of Western Kenya, 1920-1963
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It is a historical fact that most Kenyan communities are hounded by actual or potential ethnic conflicts. Kenya comprises of many ethnic communities that are religiously shaped by their cherished cultures which influence their behavior and conduct. This study analyses the contribution or role of culture in the frequent cross-border conflicts between the Maasai and the Kuria communities from 1920 to 1963. The need to carry out this research arose due un-ending cross-border conflicts between the Maasai and Kuria. Greed versus grievance theory was employed to examine the conflicts and was reinforced by structural functionalism theory in the analysis. A conceptual frame work was developed to illustrate the relationship between the variables. The assumption in this study was that culture was specifically a contributory factor to regional conflicts and therefore needed a local examination. The study is a descriptive survey research and the instruments for data collection were questionnaire, semi-structured interview methods and the interview schedule. Purposive sampling technique was used to select the study sample. The target population was 122 people of various levels. The analysis of data was done using basic descriptive statistics. The study relied on secondary and primary data. The research was guided by the specific research questions and objectives. The study was confined to the role of culture in cross-border conflicts between 1920-1963. Sparse population and poor means of transport were some of the limitations encountered. Backgrounds of the Kuria and Maasai were studied to examine the progressive development of cross-border conflicts and the role of culture in these conflicts. Such cultures studied included circumcision, marriage, Moranism/Abamuraism and traditional religion. The findings of the study revealed that the rites of passage, Moranism/Abamuraism and religious beliefs contributed to cross-border conflicts between the Maasai and Kuria. One of the recommendations included the development of infrastructure and training locals on the importance of peace and the engagement in more viable economic activities. Secondly, the pastoral communities should be involved in matters to do with development through the active participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from whom they would access some form of civic education which would propel many people to levels that are beyond cross-border fighting. Third, the county councils should do land survey to document major uses of land and boundaries. To further address cross-border conflicts, more research can be done on the arbitrary creation of boundaries by the colonial government of Tanganyika and Kenya and how this might contribute to cross-border conflicts.