Use Formal Education, Job Creation to Address Decades of Banditry: Bishop-elect in Kenya

Mons. Cleophas Oseso Tuka. Credit: Nakuru Diocese

Empowering the people of God in Kenya’s North Rift region through formal education and the creation of “job opportunities” provide a long-term solution to the banditry menace that has been going on for decades, the Bishop-elect of the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru has said.

President William Samoei Ruto, in February, ordered a joint military and police operation to deal with the decades of rampant banditry and cattle rustling in Kenya’s North Rift. At least 100 people have been killed in recent months following the increase in cross-border banditry.

In an interview with ACI Africa, Mons. Cleophas Oseso Tuka said that it will take more than the security operation in Turkana, West Pokot, Samburu, Laikipia, Elgeyo Marakwet, and Baringo Counties to find solutions to the deep-rooted causes of the banditry and cattle rustling. 

“It is not just about dealing with bandits, more is needed. If we don't empower the people, if we don't educate these people, if we don't give them job opportunities, it means all the operations we are doing are just short-term,” the Bishop-elect of the Diocese covering Baringo County said during the Wednesday, March 22. 

Mons. Oseso underscored the need to use formal education to empower the people to think beyond their cultural practices, saying those in the bandit-prone areas have been raised to believe that the only source of livelihood is their animals. 


The belief has been compounded by the fact that “the terrains are not agricultural friendly because they’re semi-arid areas, so animals are the only source of income. Their lives rotate around the animals which they can acquire, sell, and get money to do other things.”

The member of the Clergy of Kenya’s Nakuru Diocese who was appointed Bishop for the Kenyan Episcopal See in February explained, “Once we get a population that is educated there, they will have an opportunity elsewhere, not necessarily in the same region.”

Those who receive formation education, he went on to say, “will come back and empower their” other community members, having gained “skills that are needed in this modern world” as teachers and nurses among other professions. 

Mons. Oseso added, “Education is empowerment. Once you educate a population, you are opening their horizons of thinking and looking at alternatives, looking at things from a different dimension, not just the traditional way. They’ll be people you can sit down and reason with, look at life from a different perspective.” 

When people are empowered through formal education, he further said, “when opportunities for other economic activities come, they will be enlightened and ready to take them.” 

More in Africa

The Bishop-elect said the Kenyan government needs to come up with education policies that are tailor-made for the local situation to ensure children in the bandit-prone region are educated.

He said that the earlier proposal to abolish boarding schools in the East African nation, which the education ministry later rescinded, should not be done “wholesale.”

“We have to look at each region with its own uniqueness. We cannot all talk like people who are living in Nairobi town or Nakuru town,” the Kenyan Bishop-elect who was serving as Vicar General of Nakuru Diocese at the time of Episcopal appointment said.

“Boarding schools have their own values and it is the only way that you can get to educate children in difficult regions in the nation,” he emphasized, adding that it is difficult for some children find it hard to focus on their studies from their respective families and homes. 

He continued, “A lot of our population is made of people who are living below the poverty line. Once a kid gets back home, is the kid going to concentrate on the homework or on house chores and other errands around the home?”


In the March 22 interview with ACI Africa, the Bishop-elect whose Episcopal ordination and installation have been scheduled for Saturday, May 6 also called for “concerted efforts” to address insecurity in the banditry-prone parts of Kenya.  

“There is need for concerted efforts so that the impact of all that we are doing is felt and is seen to help change the life of the people,” he said 

Mons. Oseso called for the application of the principles of the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality, underscoring the need to journey together in finding solutions for insecurity in parts of Kenya. 

He said, “The Synod on Synodality has called us to journey together. Journeying together means that the Bishop is not working alone, the Christians are not working alone, Priests are not working alone; that our focus, our aspirations are the same.”

“That we get to listen to each other, we listen to what the people are saying, what the church is saying, listen to the government and the government also listens to the church; that is the only way we can work together; that way we can be able to journey together and also seek a way of solving some of our socioeconomic problems,” he said.

(Story continues below)

Regarding insecurity challenges in parts of Nakuru Diocese, Mons. Oseso urged the people of God to remain hopeful about the future, saying, “We need to keep hope alive. That is always our Christian message, that we can never despair.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.