After the tragic loss of more than 50 Kenyans on 22 August in Riketa, a village in Kenya's Tana River Delta, numerous commentators identified long-standing conflict between the agricultural Orma community and the pastoralist Pokomo. Paul Goldsmith, a researcher who has worked with Natural Justice in Lamu, has drafted an in-depth article for the East African that challenges some of these assumptions. He notes that "nothing in the literature alludes to a long-standing state of conflict between herders and farmers in this area," and argues rather that "symbiotic relations between mobile producers of animal protein and carbohydrate producing agriculturalists was a basic prerequisite for the emergence of the mono-cultural pastoralism practised by the Orma and their Somali counterparts." He concludes that rather than drawing from timeless animosity, "recent Orma-Pokomo conflict stems from the expansion of riverine farms that block herders’ access to the river," a development which took place in the early 2000s.
The full East African article can be accessed here.