Friday June 25 2010

A special registration process has been launched for members of the Ogiek community. The exercise, managed by community elders, has the specific aim of securing Ogiek interests ahead of the next phase of the Mau Forest restoration exercise.

Some might wonder why the Ogiek are given special consideration while illegal settlers in the Mau Forest complex are all to be evicted. However, it must be seen as a bold and laudable initiative by the Mau Forest Interim Coordinating Secretariat.

The Ogiek traditionally lived in and took care of the forests. The previous government used the cover of re-settling them in the Mau; only for influential personalities to carve out a larger part of the precious ecosystem for their own selfish use.

The government now has resolved to rid the Mau, Kenya’s most expansive water catchment, of illegal human encroachment. It is therefore important that the genuine members of the Ogiek community be identified and imposters exposed.

That is not to say, however, that once registered the Ogiek will be allowed back into the Mau. In this day and age even the remaining members of the community have abandoned the hunter-gatherer lifestyle that made survival in the forest viable and non-destructive.