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Woman begs Uhuru to spare her 63 acres in Mau

Saturday September 7 2019

 Maasai Mau Forest

Martha Keter, a retired teacher who owns 63 acres of land in Maasai Mau Forest, speaks on September 6, 2019. PHOTO |JOHN NJOROGE |NATION MEDIA GROUP 

FRANCIS MUREITHI
By FRANCIS MUREITHI
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For Ms Martha Keter, 63, a retired teacher who invested all her pension to buy land in Maasai Mau, moving out of the forest is the most painful experience in her life.

 “This is like burying me alive,” she said at Sebetet area on Friday as she packed her belongings ready to move out.

“My husband and I sold everything and bought this 63 acres of land from Ole Ntutu family and it is painful I am leaving after being declared an illegal squatter,” said Ms Keter a former Ndaraweta Girls Secondary School principal in Bomet County in 2016.

ESCAPED EVICTION

She said she bought the land from Sisiyian ranch, which is owned by the ole Ntutu family, in 2002.

One of the prominent sons of this powerful family in Maasai land is the former assistant minister Stephen ole Ntutu.

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“I don’t know where to go. I narrowly escaped a similar eviction in 2005 and 2008 and I now I am worried there is too much pressure,” she said.

“I request President Uhuru Kenyatta to reconsider the looming evictions and if there will be any compensation we shall appreciate,” said the mother of two.

She added: “The government has the compulsory purchase powers and if it feels it wants to acquire our land, we won’t mind compensation.”

HARASSED

She claimed that her family was being harassed. “When I saw armed Kenya Forest Service rangers enter my farm I went into hiding, I was terrified,” she added.

She wondered why politicians were promising land owners that there would be be no evictions yet people were moving out of the forest daily.

“President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto are quiet and I wonder whom to turn to for help,” said Ms Keter, a former tutor at the Rift Valley Institute of Science and Technology in Nakuru.

She said the family was behind the Sebetet learning centre which was closed due to lack of pupils after an eviction order was announced by the government.

“We care for our community and that is why we donated generously towards Sebetet learning centre,” said Ms Keter.

FOREST CUTLINE

Her son Harold Kirui, said his parents had not encroached the forest land as claimed by the government.

“We are on the border of the forest cutline and we have never interfered with the forest land for the past 10 years we have been farming this land,” said Mr Kirui who is a clinical officer.

“As we move out, we feel justice has not been done to us, moving out is costly and psychologically tormenting,” he added.

He said they had planted crops such as potato, maize, peas, beans and kept several livestock.

“This exercise was done in a hurry and we should have been given time to harvest our crops. I feel there is a hidden agenda to evict us at this time of the year when our children are opening schools,” said Mr Kirui.