Tribal conflict is one of the major problems that are facing most Kenya community and mostly the nomadic communities. From the study on different languages spoken by different communities, most Kenya languages don’t have appropriate words for conflict or conflict management.
Most Nomadic communities are still in conflict, recently Turkana cows were reported raided by Samburu bandits at Ngaremara and crossed Waso Ng’iro. The Turkana retaliated back and raided innocent Samburu herders.

Causes of inter-ethnic conflicts

Several facts have been advanced to explain the main causes of inter-ethnic conflicts between most nomadic tribes. Most of these issues revolve around livestock ownership and to get access to scarce natural resources such as water.

Cattle Raiding

Cattle rearing communities have huge attachment to cattle. In ethnic groups like Samburu, Turkana, Pokot and Rendille cattle raiding is a cultural obligation to raid other communities to restock especially after severe drought and or livestock diseases. From the practicing communities the culture is there to stay.

Cultural Ego

The importance attached to heroism contributes to inter-ethnic conflicts. Heroes are man and women who have played an outstanding role in the community of protecting the community. Every community has its own way of recognizing and appreciating heroes. In Turkana heroes (ekaruang) they are marked with special kind of tattoo to make them recognizable in the society. Songs are sung and heroes praised for killing.

Limited Natural Reasons

The inter-ethnic conflict infected zones are one of the driest places in Kenya. Competition for scare pasture, grazing land and water is the major cause of conflict perpetrated as cattle raiding. The scarcity of natural resources forces most communities to go beyond borderline thus posing inevitable clashes with the neighbouring communities. A good example is the tribal clashes between Rendille, Borana and Gabra that has dominated Marsabit County for decades, the constant fight between the Turkana and Samburu on the borders of the larger Samburu County mostly around archers post area and Baragoi.


In one way or the other politics is seen as one of the modern causes of tribal conflict in Kenya. Communities living in the same political boundaries (County) are in constant disagreement on the selection of leaders which triggers inter-ethnic conflict between the communities. Political incitements have also bred inter-ethnic conflict in Kenya. The conflict between Marakwet and Pokot can be traced to the dawn of political pluralism in the early 90s. The Marakwet were the victims of their independent political stance taken by some of its prominent members who contradicted the then prevailing wave of ethnic political homogeneity within the Kalenjin group.

Proliferation of automatic weapons

Proliferation of automatic weapons has increased the severity of inter-ethnic conflict. Before the introduction of guns and bullets by the white man Kenyan communities’ primarily relied on traditional weapon (machete, bows and arrows and swords). Such firearms are sold in black markets within villages and or in the bush.


The main cause of constant ethnic conflicts in Marsabit is caused by constant revenge from the warring community. Each tribe keeps on revenging as long as they have lost something to the other tribe, they will always make sure that the other party pays the prize double.