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Maasai leaders want NLC to investigate lost ancestral land

Thursday August 6 2015

Former Narok North MP William ole Ntimama. He

Former Narok North MP William ole Ntimama. He wants all leases on land considered to belong to the Maasai to be revised with a view of giving the land back to the community. FILE PHOTO | JOAN PERERUAN | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

GEORGE SAYAGIE
By GEORGE SAYAGIE
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Maasai leaders want the National Land Commission to investigate how the community lost its ancestral land before and after independence.

They have also demanded an apology from the British Government for injustices the community suffered during the colonial period, and that all the land that was wrongly allocated be returned.

Orkila Orok, the Maasai council of elders, claims the community lost more than 1.5 million acres over the years, hence should be compensated.

The elders, who addressed a news conference in Narok Town on Tuesday, said reparation, restitution, and compensation should start with a review of the Maasai Land Agreements of 1904 and 1911, whose 100-year leases expired in 2004 and 2011.

The council’s chairman, Mr Kasaine ole Esho, said some of the land was still in the hands of foreign companies, multinationals and remnants of colonial settlers who are engaged in commercial agriculture.

He said colonialists and post-independence administrations took advantage of Maasais’ nomadic lifestyle to alienate their land.

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Among the land they want returned are the 30,000-acre pieces in Mau Narok given to former ministers Simeon Nyachae, Mr Mbiu Koinange, Katumbe farm and Rose farms.

Others are the big chunks of lands in Naivasha among them Kedong ranch, Lord Dalamere and others in Laikipia under Britons.

Former cabinet Minister William ole Ntimama said all the leases on land considered to belong to the Maasai to be revised with a view of giving the land back to the community.
He accused successive Government of extending the leases.

The former Narok North MP said the community leaders would not rest until their rights were respected.

“We have continued to be viewed as aggressors in our own land.

"The Government should change its perception and give us our land as a measure towards addressing historical injustices,” added Mr Ntimama.

They called on elected leaders in the county led by Governor Samuel ole Tunai to move to the International Court of Justice and demand for compensation for the injustices against the Maasai community.

They further want the new land policy implemented to tackle the issue.

“The bulk of the land has since changed hands several times over — sold to Government and land buying companies — and recovering it may not be feasible” said Mr Esho.

The community has for long tried to have land it owned before the entry of the British returned in vain.

Five years ago Parliament adopted the Proposed National Land Policy, which proposes legal mechanisms to facilitate review and documentation of all historical land claims to determine forms of compensation, restitution and reparations.