Citizens Not to Blame for Kenya's Troubles

The article ``Nomads and Farmers in Kenya War Over Increasingly Scarce Land,'' Jan. 18, is disturbing for two reasons. First, there can be no denial that ``ethnic-based'' violence, which has been taking place in Kenya for the last four years, is abhorrent and must be condemned on moral grounds. It is senseless and tragic.

Second, these deplorable activities cannot be regarded solely as the result of tensions between Kalenjin and Masai ``nomads,'' on the one hand, and Kikuyu ``farmers,'' on the other.

Such a gross oversimplification is not only counterproductive but also inaccurate, since many Kalenjin themselves are not nomadic but rather sedentary farmers.

It is not the average mwananchi (citizen) who is responsible for the present situation - since it is all he or she can do to keep food on the table and the children in school. Rather, the current predicament is the creation of politicians who, beginning in 1991, have been advocating divisive policies such as majimboism (federalism).

These problems cannot be understood, let alone solved, by a simple appeal to ``tribalism.'' The dialogue at the local, national, and international levels must progress beyond ``tribal'' and ``ethnic'' distinctions and seek to engage the genuine cause of Kenya's troubles, namely the misuse of political power by a few. Bruce D. Roberts, Hattiesburg, Miss.

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