The Origin and Causes of Cattle Rustling and Banditry in Baringo Lowland, Kenya

Main Article Content

Symon B. Keitany
John Mwaruvie
Joshia Osamba


Cattle rustling, Kipnukie, banditry, lowland, drought


Cattle rustling and banditry among pastoral communities in Kenya have been on the upsurge since the colonial period and there has been a significant rise in reported cases of cattle rustling and banditry attacks with devastating results among communities of Baringo Lowland of Baringo County in Kenya. Due to the loss of lives and disruption of economies of the pastoral communities in the area, the study examined the various historical socio-economic causes of the bandit economy in the zone. The study was guided by Human Needs Theory and it adopted exploratory research design. The study employed in-depth interviews with elders, youths and organized focus group discussions in Loruk, Mukutani and Kinyach areas of the lowland which is the theatre of constant attack and counter attacks by the Pokot, Tugen and Il Chamus communities. The oral evidence complements archival and documented evidence. The data was qualitatively analysed. The study reveals the socio-economic factors contributed to the cattle rustling and banditry in the lowland from 1900. They include: Kipnyigeu/ Kipnukie Era- 1904-1917; lack of proper government structures and presence; The central place of livestock in the pastoral communities and droughts, diseases and internal disagreements. These were noted as the main factors that have continued to fuel cattle rustling and banditry. The study recommends a paradigm shift in social economic culturalisation and governance which will involve County government of Baringo, National government entities, Non-Governmental Organizations and other development partners to focus on engaging the local communities and creating alternative sources of livelihoods that will combat the banditry menace.  

Abstract 11 | PDF Downloads 10


Anderson, D. M. (2006). Eroding the Commons: The politics of ecology in Baringo, 1890-1963 (Ecology & History). Ohio University Press.

Berman, B. & Lonsdale, J. (eds). (1992). Unhappy Valley: Conflict in Kenya & Africa: Book One: State and Class. Ohio University Press.

Chesikaw, M. (2019). Learning from the indigenous: The Orror marriage process. Kenya Literature Bureau.
Hennings, R. O. (1951). African Morning. Chatto and Windus.

Kandagor, R. D. (2010). Rethinking British rule and “native” economies in Kenya: Tugeneconomic transformation, 1895-1963. Pangolin Publishers Limited.

Kimaiyo, M. D. (2016). “Women Involvement in Cattle Rustling Between the Marakwet and the Pokot Communities of North- Western Kenya”. PhD Thesis, University of Nairobi.

Kipkorir, B. E. & Welbourn, F. W. (2002). The Marakwet of Kenya: A Preliminary Study. East African Literature Bureau.

Kipkorir, B. E. (2009). Descent from Cherang’any Hills: Memoirs of a reluctant academic. Macmillan Kenya (Publishers) Limited.

Kipkulei, B. K. (1972). “The Origins, Migration and Settlements of the Tugen People from the
earliest times to the turn of 20th century”. BA Dissertations, University of Nairobi.

Kiptui, M. (2021). The philosophy, culture and resource sharing systems among pastoral communities. Utafiti Foundation.

Lomoywara, K. M. (2018). “Transformation of Cattle Rustling in West Pokot County Kenya, 1895-2000”. PhD Thesis, Kenyatta University.

Mkutu, A. K. (2009). Guns & Governance in the Rift Valley Pastoralist conflict & small arms. East African Educational Publishers.

Odhiambo, M. (2016). “Il Chamus Verses the State: Vulnerability, Litigation and Resilience Building in the Baringo Lowlands of Kenya”. PhD Thesis, University of Cologne.

Osamba, J. O. (2001). “Peace Building and Transformation from Below: Indigenous Approaches to Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation among the pastoral societies in the Borderlands of Eastern Africa”. ACCORD African Journal