NFD History (by Commissionor A Issack)

North Eastern Province which now comprise Wajir, Mandera, Ijara and Garissa districts was part of the former N.F.D. (Northern Frontier Districts) which also included Isiolo, Moyale and Marsabit. Most of the inhabitants of this region were ethnic Somalis and others allied to them. They had a lot in common; (in terms of religion, language, customs, Nomadic way of life, etc) with the other Somali regions under Italian, British, and French occupation than with the rest of other Kenyans.

This fact was apparent to the British colonists in East Africa much earlier when in 1902, the then Commissioner of the East Africa protectorate, Charles Elliot stated that, "if it were possible to detach the districts inhabited by the Somalis it would be an excellent thing to form them into a separate government". This did not happen and after the completion of the partition of Africa by the Colonial Powers, N.F.D became part of Kenya while the rest of the areas inhabited by the Somalis came under the French (Djibouti), Italy (Southern Somalia), British (Northern Somaliland) and Ogadenia now under Ethiopia. Ethiopia, under Menelik, took an active role in the partition of Africa.

North Eastern Province which now comprise Wajir, Mandera, Ijara and Garissa districts was part of the former N.F.D. (Northern Frontier Districts) which also included Isiolo, Moyale and Marsabit. Most of the inhabitants of this region were ethnic Somalis and others allied to them. They had a lot in common; (in terms of religion, language, customs, Nomadic way of life, etc) with the other Somali regions under Italian, British, and French occupation than with the rest of other Kenyans.

He wrote to the European Colonial Powers stating that, "If powers at distant come forward to partition Africa between themselves, I don't intend to be an indifferent Spectator." He was then given large areas of Somali inhabited areas which today form zone 5 of Ethiopia.2A By 1925, the size of N.F.D was reduced when 12,000 square miles of territory was ceded by the British to Italy and the border was pushed back from the Juba River in Somalia to where it is today. This followed a 1915 treaty in London between the two colonial powers wherein Britain promised this Land as quid pro quo for Italian support in World War.

The colonial government in Kenya, in an effort to control the movement of the Somalis into the hinterland of East Africa and of their integration with others in Kenya, enacted several legislations specifically targeting N.F.D. The first was the outlying District ordinance 19025 which applied exclusively to N.F.D. The effect of theordinance was to declare N.F.D. a closed area. Movement in and out of the area was restricted and only under a special pass. The second was the special districts (Administration) ordinance, 19346, which together with the stock theft and produce ordinance, 1933, gave the colonial administrators in the region extensive powers of arrest, restraint, detention and seizure of properties of "hostile tribes".

These ordinances not only applied to N.F.D. but also to Tana River, Lamu, Kajiado and Samburu districts. Further the stock theft and produce ordinance legalised collective punishment of tribes and clans for the offence of their member.

The long title of the said ordinance stated thus-"An ordinance to provide for the recovery of fines imposed on Africans (including Somalis) for the theft of stock or produce by levy on the property of the offender or his family, sub-tribe or tribe…….." The meaning of what constitutes "stock" was as defined in Section 278 of the Penal Code. Under this Section stock is defined as to include any of the following that is to say; horse, mare, gelding, ass, mule, camel, ostrich, bull, cow, ox, ram, ewe, whether goat or pig or the young thereof.

The net effect of these early colonial legislation was to turn N.F.D. into a closed zone, which had no contact or relation with the other parts of Kenya. Indeed, the other Kenyans did not know much about N.F.D. This situation continued even after independence and is best captured by the statement of the American writer, Negley Farson, that, "there is one half of Kenya about which the other half knows nothing about and seems to care even less". The European Minister for African Affairs, while contributing to a motion on setting aside Land in either Gilgil, Naivasha or Isiolo for Somali stock traders, on 28th October 1954, spelt out the colonial government's position on the Somalis as follows-

"Now Sir, the policy of the government towards these men has always been that although we recognise their fine qualities, and I yield to nobody in my admiration of their Powers of Leadership, their hardihood, their physical courage and their epic skills as bush Lawyers, we can only absorb a few of them. Government has always taken the view that it will be wrong to establish a reserve for them".

The Late Eliud Mathu, while contributing to the same motion, said, "This Council regrets that the government has not accepted the minority recommendation of the Somali Committee that Land should be made available for Somali stock farmers and requests government to reconsider their decision. I do think that these Somalis require the treatment that would be accorded to any other bonafide resident of Kenya".

Mr. Cook, another Member of the Legislative Council (legco), while contributing on the same motion also said; " I know that Somalis are in many ways vexatious people because they stand up for their own rights and certain number of government servants do not like non-Europeans to stand up sturdily for his own rights. I have noticed that in the past and perhaps other people have noticed it as well. But I personally think that it is that virile type of African that we need most in the development of this country".