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Implement TJRC report for justice for the Talai: Rift leaders

Saturday November 9 2019

Kipsigis and Talai communities 

Members of the Kipsigis and Talai communities line up at Brooke Hotel in Kericho County to register as victims of British colonial era injustices, July 14, 2015. PHOTO | TIMOTHY KEMEI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JEREMIAH KIPLANG'AT
By JEREMIAH KIPLANG'AT
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TOM MATOKE
By TOM MATOKE
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Rift Valley leaders have demanded speedy implementation of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission report, saying it will help Kenya deal with historical injustices the Talai community suffered under British colonial rule 100 years ago.

Nandi Governor Stephen Sang and his Uasin Gishu counterpart Jackson Mandago said the report captured injustices by the colonial and successive governments and noted the need for urgent compensation.

Mr Mandago said it is wrong to let the report gather dust instead of implementing it.

“For marginalised groups such as the Talai and others to get justice for atrocities by colonialists, the TJRC reports needs to be actioned," he said on Friday evening at a function on the displacement of the Talai, a Kalenjin sub-tribe, from their fertile land in Nandi to Kapsisiywa village in 1919.

"Most of the cases undertaken by colonial masters were captured in the report. It should be hastened for the people to earn justice because justice denied delayed is justice denied."

The commission was established in 2009 with the key mandate of looking into historical injustices meted upon communities and individuals since independence. It submitted its report and wound up in 2012.

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Chesumei MP Wilson Kogo, who also attended the event at Chepkober in Kapsisiywa, Chesumei constituency, noted that the Talai have not been compensated centuries later yet their land was taken forcefully.

WHAT HAPPENED

Historical records indicate the community was kicked out of its land to provide space for multinational companies to establish tea estates presently spread across the counties.

The clan strongly resisted British invasion and, led by the revered Orkoiyot Koitalel arap Samoei, the Nandi community waged a spirited fight against forceful acquisition of their land and rule by the foreigners.

Koitalel was killed in 1905 by a British soldier, an incident which ended the Nandi’s resistance.

According to Talai elders, however, the British still feared the Talai and decided to round them up and dump them in the village, hoping they would reach their natural end.

DEMANDS

Since independence, the Talai have been pushing for compensation for the atrocities by the British colonial government.

Currently, the Nandi government is preparing a case against the British government.

Early this year, the National Lands Commission backed the Talai’s decades-old demands and tasked the tea estates based with engaging them on various issues and resolving the matter.

The lands body, in a final report released in March 2018, agreed to some of the demands.

It failed to give an express directive on compensation for lost land but accommodated some key demands that will see the people get more support from the British firms that sit on thousands of acres of land.

LAND

The NLC ordered a fresh survey to find out the exact acreage of land leased by the firms. The communities will be given extra pieces should it be revealed that the acreage exceeds what is indicated in leases.

The extra land will be held in trust by the respective county governments and will be used to put up utilities the communities are in dire need of.

The commission, however, did not indicate who will bear the cost of the exercise.

The county has been pushing for the reverting of the multinational land to the Talai but the NLC avoided this issue.

It instead asked for a temporary stop to the award of leases to allow dialogue between the devolved units and the firms.

The commission, however, said the lease period should be reduced from 999 to 99 years, in line with the 2010 Constitution.

It further demanded that the tea companies be compelled to pay higher rates and rent to the counties and the national government.

EDUCATION

Additionally, the tea firms in Nandi were tasked with setting up a scholarship fund for the Talai children.

Community members have often claimed that after they were forced out of their land and crammed in infertile reserves, they suffered immense poverty and were unable to educate their children.

When they met the NLC officials who visited the county to collect information on their grievances last year, Talai elders narrated how their lives were turned upside down after their ancestors lost land to the firms.

Most said they remained with nothing to inherit and that they would always be poor.

“A scholarship fund to educate Talai children be set up by the multinational companies holding the land … the county government and the multinationals sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the multinationals to provide public utilities to the community,” said the NLC.