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Give us land, Ogiek appeal to State

Monday July 1 2019

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Members of the Ogiek community during a press conference in Nakuru on June 29, 2019. They called on the government to resettle them after being evicted from Mau Forest PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Francis Mureithi
By Francis Mureithi
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Members of the Ogiek Kurbanyat community who were evicted from Mau Forest in Kuresoi South, Nakuru County, have appealed to the government to give them alternative land.

Led by their spokesperson Pastor Daniel Chepkwony, they said more than 1,000 members of the Ogiek community were forcibly evicted from the land.

“We are suffering, we appeal to the government to speed up the resettlement process as we have been deprived the only source of income which is our ancestral land,” said pastor Chepkwony.

SUFFERING

Ms Pauline Chepkorir said that many women were suffering while their children had dropped out of school.

“It is sad that some of the women are now living on the roadside,” said Ms Chepkorir.

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Mr James Korir said: “We are ready to plant trees and fruits in the forest because traditionally the Ogiek have been living in the forest,” said Mr Korir.

The government has appointed a task force chaired by Dr Robert Kibugi following a landmark ruling by the African Court on Human and People’s Rights in Arusha, Tanzania which ordered the government to give the community alternative settlement.

The task force has been collecting views from the Ogiek since February this year.

The ruling was issued in May 2017 but the government formed the task force this year to implement the decision of the African Court.

ANCESTRAL LAND

The Ogiek claim that part of their ancestral land in the 14 blocks of the Mau Forest in Nakuru, Narok, Kericho, Baringo, Uasin Gishu and Nandi has been grabbed and illegal title deeds issued to private developers.

Pastor Chepkwony said that the community was ready to protect the diminishing forest cover.

“Ogieks have been conserving the Mau Forest and as a community, we feel we are being punished by brutal evictions yet we are not the ones who are destroying the forest,” said Pastor Chepkwony.

ILLEGAL TITLE DEEDS

They blamed the depletion of the forest on the haphazard issuance of illegal title deeds to other communities.

“We have seen logging done by outsiders while we sit and watch because we are powerless and voiceless and our pleas have fallen on deaf ears,” said Mr Korir.

The task force report is eagerly awaited by the community as it will finally shape its destiny after a long running court battle and evictions that have led to loss of life and property worth millions of shillings.