|dc.description.abstract||The protection of civilians from harm and abuse is a key humanitarian concern. This challenge is
compromised by the rising insecurity in Kenya, which is a major source of concern to the
government, since most major ethnic groups have ethnic based militia gangs. The government
continues to deny the existence of ethnic-based militia gangs and at other times affirms their
existence, thereby responding very harshly towards some of them. By so doing, the government
acknowledges the existence of the militia and the consequent challenge of dealing with them.
Unfortunately, majorities of these groups stay inertia and only awakens whenever called upon,
especially by politicians to lease terror to opponents during election period.
Ethnic-based groups comprising of "young warriors, have always existed in Africa. The rite of
passage that transmits children to adulthood, initiation, demands that, as a proof of manhood,
young men form a community's defense force, guarding against cattle rustlers and other
perceived "enemies" as well as retaliating when necessary. Custom demands that such young
warriors obey community's elders and develop warriors' cohesion among persons of the same
age group. This is believed to make it quite easy to mobilize during a call for action. Examples of
such groups are the Njama ya aanake (Kikuyu), and the famous morans (Masaai). Observably,
these legitimate peer groups would often armed with a variety crude weapons, but rarely
They are exclusively comprised of male youth whose members' age range between 18 and 30
years. It is this indigenous concept of community defense male youth that has with time
undergone a dramatic metamorphosis into ethnic based militia gangs. This paper gives a brief
overview of armed militia ethnic-based gangs in Kenya. Its main focus, however, is on the
Mungiki. It addresses three questions:
With special emphasis to Mungiki, how have ethnic gangs evolved?
What threat do they pose for national cohesion?
What are the options for resolving the problem of ethnic gangs?||en_US