Elders from the Boni minority community in Lamu county are blaming the national government for failing to focus on other failing sectors crucial for the socio-economic development of the region and putting all efforts on security alone.
The elders drawn from Pandanguo,Jima, Bargoni and Basuba villages all of which fall within the terror-prone zones in Lamu say many others sectors including Education, Health, Transport, and Agriculture have been adversely neglected as the government chooses to only focus on addressing the insecurity issue.
Speaking when they met at the Pandanguo village on Tuesday, the Boni elders said the situation has rendered the community poorer adding that they are now literally beggars who now have to depend on handouts for survival.
The elders, however, said their biggest concern is that the Boni community soon is rendered extinct if the neglect continues.
They feel the government was being deliberate with the manner it was being choosy in attending to only some sectors while totally locking out others.
The Chairperson of the Educational Development Forum of the community Ali Sharuti said there is the need for the government to help them move up the development ladder and be at par with the rest of the communities in the country.
Sharuti asked the government to consider sponsoring the education of Boni children since a majority are poor and can’t afford school fees.
“Its always about security as far as the Bonis are concerned.No one stops to thinks of the Education, Health or even Transport sectors all of which are suffering immensely. As elders we want the government to shift the same focus onto these sectors so that we can move on wholesomely. We are a poor community due to the fact that many of these crucial sectors have remained dysfunctional and that’s we hope the government can sponsor our children to learn unless they want the Bonis extinct,” said Sharuti.
The community says their lives have never been the same ever since the Linda Boni security operation was launched in their areas back in 2015 with the major objective of flushing out Al Shabaab militants said to be hiding deep within their ancestral food store, the Boni forest.
Another elder Adan Golja says the ever since the operation came into being, the community who are traditionally hunters and gatherers haven’t been allowed to venture into the Boni forest to search for food, a situation that has added to their woes and seen poverty go up.
Elder Hamisi Msuo urged the government to act fast and ensure all the five primary schools in the terror-prone areas that have remained closed for the last five years are re-opened so that their children can attend the school like their peers in the rest of the country.
The five, Basuba, Milimani, Mangai, Mararani and Kiangwe primary schools have remained shut since 2014 owing to frequent Al Shabaab attacks in the areas.
Teachers who were teaching in the schools fled following alleged direct threats on their lives by the militants.