Director Suzette Heald
Length 64 mins
Format Colour / DVD PAL or NTSC / All region
Location Kenya, Africa
In 1998, a new movement swept through Kuria, in S.W. Kenya with dramatic effect. Cattle raiding fuelled by the increasing presence of guns had led to a situation of total insecurity, with all in fear of the thieves. In April of that year, a group of men in just one location, Bukira East, effected a new organisation merging ideas from the Tanzanian vigilante movement, sungusungu, with their own indigenous assembly, the iritongo. Within a year the movement had spread throughout Kuria and the District as a whole was at peace.
This film revisits the iritongo movement ten years later. In telling the story of its origin, and its current operation, it reveals a broad contrast between the areas where the iritongo still operates, though with some difficulty, and those where it has faltered and died. In these latter areas there has been a revival of clan raiding and warfare.
The film is observational in style, with the situation described through the words of the participants, emphasizing their agency. There is, thus, extensive use of sub-titles.
S. Heald, 2009. Reforming Community, Reclaiming the State: The development of sungusungu in Northern Tanzania. In D. Wisler and I.D. Onwudiwe (eds.) Community Policing: International and Comparative Perspectives. USA: CRC Press/Taylor and Francis.
S. Heald 2007 Controlling Crime and Corruption from Below: Sungusungu in Kenya. International Relations, 21(2): 183-99
S. Heald 2007 Making Law in Rural East Africa. Crisis States Development Research Centre Working Paper 12, series 2. www.crisisstates.com
S. Heald, 2006, State, law and vigilantism in Northern Tanzania. African Affairs 105: 265-283
S. Heald, Domesticating Leviathan: Sungusungu in Tanzania. 29 pages. LSE: Crisis States working paper, series 1, no 16. 2002. www.crisisstates.com
S. Heald, ‘Tolerating the Intolerable: Cattle raiding among the Kuria’. In G.Aijmer
and J.Abbink (eds.) Meanings of Violence. Pp 101-21. Oxford: Berg, 2000
S. Heald, ‘Agricultural Intensification and the Decline of Pastoralism: a Kenyan case study Africa 69 (2): 213-37. 1999