El Wak- The year 2011 has been an eventful year for the border town of El Wak. If there was a CNN Garri, there would be around the clock breaking news from the Mandera El Wak region. Sadly, there’s little to no investigative journalism in which information can be gathered and reported factually. Nevertheless, information on the events of El Wak can be analysed through verbal narrations and news passed on through phone calls, conversations, etc…
The chain of events in the region began early March of this year, when Ethiopian insurgents came to the Kenyan side of El Wak to fight against AlShabab. The AlShabab Militia who were based on the Somali side of the border reportedly faced the Ethiopian Insurgents with direct cross fire. In that conflict, houses were burnt, and a hospital was bombed; the patients were transferred to a location in Mombasa.
Many criticisms were made of the event, especially from those who lost their homes in the cross fire. It is said that the Ethiopian insurgents who came in were Garri men from Ethiopia. Although the motive is clearly to demolish AlShabab triumph in the El Wak region, locals still remain reluctant to supporting the opposition.
El Wak and the Mandera District was once considered part of “Garri Land”, but now increasing number of Somalis crossing the border has led to a mixture of Garris and Somalis living in the Area. The Garri struggle in the El Wak region foreshadows the upcoming events of places like Wajir, Garrisa, Isiolo, and many other Garri Lands which are becoming more inhabited by Somalis who will sooner or later claim these lands as their own.
The second incident in the chain of events in El Wak dates back to September 11, 2011, when AlShabab made a move by waging an attack. The date which the attack was initiated by the Islamic Militant group seems somewhat less than a coincidence. In spite of that, this becomes the second event this year that goes further to prove that the tension and conflict in this region is between the Garri and AlShabab.
The incident of 9/11/11 concluded with the death of Garri war hero Abdullahi Gamas. The story behind this is as follows, even though the accuracy has not been confirmed. It is said that Abdullahi Gamas, a well known Garri war hero, was killed after an AlShabab supporter acquired intelligence of AlShabab’s upcoming attack. The killer was supposedly a Somali whom he shared a room with. Many others also lost their lives including a number of civilians.
The third incident of El Wak consists of a “murder and revenge” sequence which occurred in early October. Although further exploration of these facts are needed, the verbally dictated story is as follows: A Garri man of Clan A came from Ethiopia carrying fire arms and/or explosives (In the words of George Bush, He brought Weapons of Mass destruction) into El Wak. The rules governing the region and Kenya states that anyone selling, producing, or transporting weapons/fire arms, can be criminalized by civilians or the civilians can act as police in this case. The man is then killed after he refuses to give up the fire arms, by Garri men of Clan B and C. Thereafter, members of Clan A are outraged and therefore seek revenge by brutally murdering a man from Clan B and stabbing a man from Clan C.
In this increasing turmoil of El Wak, incidents lineup to indicate a pattern which highlights the core source of turbulence. The Garri/Ethiopian insurgents attack in March, the retaliation of AlShabab on September 11th, and the Murdered Man of early October all have a theme in common. It is a power struggle between the Garris who are trying to keep their land and the AlShabab who are trying to take over. In the last story, the Garris lose sight of their enemy and kill each other from within, but every Garri individual must answer the following question.Why did the man chose to bring the fire arms to El Wak? and who was it intended to be used against?