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Meru County among ten proposed for renaming to promote national cohesion

By Harun Mugambi

In a significant step towards enhancing national unity, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has recommended renaming ten counties in Kenya, including Meru.

Meru Town/photo courtesy

This initiative is part of the NCIC’s broader strategy to combat ethnic discrimination.

The proposal, announced on Monday 27, aims to rename counties that currently reflect specific ethnic identities. Alongside Meru, the affected counties are Tharaka Nithi, Nandi, Kisii, Turkana, Embu, Samburu, Taita Taveta, West Pokot, and Elgeyo Marakwet.

Rev Samuel Kobia, the NCIC Chairman, yesterday while speaking to the media at Upper Hill Offices disclosed that the Commission will present a motion to Parliament advocating for these changes.

“As part of implementing our Ethnic and Diversity Audit 2023 for County Public Service, NCIC will push for a parliamentary motion to rename counties identified by ethnic groups to prevent potential ethnic discrimination,” Kobia stated.

The NCIC asserts that renaming these counties will foster a sense of inclusivity, ensuring all Kenyans feel secure and accepted, regardless of their ethnic background.

The Commission also noted other pressing issues affecting national cohesion, such as the impact of floods, the resurgence of organized crime, increasing insecurity, terrorism, hate speech, and ethnic contempt.

Boundary disputes, a by-product of Kenya’s devolution process, were highlighted as another major challenge. The NCIC reported that 33 out of 47 counties are embroiled in boundary conflicts, which could escalate ethnic tensions given the ethnic basis of many county boundaries.

As the nation anticipates the parliamentary debate on this proposal, questions on whether the renaming of these counties will achieve the desired national cohesion or the same will trigger identity challenges arise. The outcome remains to be seen.

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