Lessons from Past evictions should guide impending Maasai Mau purge.

Posted: July 5, 2014 in Politics/Current issues

Once again, eviction of settlers out of a section of Mau Forest looms large as the deadline given to settlers of what government calls Maasai Mau draws near.

While the alleged loss emanating from the plunder of the forest is colossal running to billions, great regard must be given to the manner of getting settlers out that section of Mau. Hunting them out of what they have called home for about three decades will be in bad taste. Settlement there has been on since 1980s.

The Ogiek community forms the majority of the inhabitants of the area and there are claims that they have title deeds for the pieces they occupy. Until not long ago, the Ogiek community have for long been  ‘forest people’ with no much education and exposure.  What if they have nowhere to run to? What if they were duped by a rotten  system?  Two weeks ultimatum to vacate is just not enough.

Evictions like that now hangs in Mau like sword of Damocles have in the recent past been  emotive matters that raised political temperatures. Worse, it  led to untold suffering among the evicted families and even deaths. Given that area that government seeks to secure is a massive 28,000 hectares, many families will likely be left stranded and diseases, hunger and disruption of learning in schools will ensue.

What then is the government doing to avert such crisis that the eviction will herald? The fact that the purge threat coincides with the chilly month of July doesn’t help matters.

Jubilee Coalition rode to power with a promise to settle all Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, as one of its main planks. To their credit, they tried their best on that end though a number from
Mau forest remains homeless. Lately they compensated Embobut forest evictees. How comes that now it is planning to create new IDPs without even a promise of alternative land?

Local leaders led by none other than Narok County Governor Samuel Ole Tunai and his Bomet counterpart Isaac Ruto recently called for caution before the action is exercised. But it appears, as per press reports, that Narok County Commissioner Farah Kassim will have none of that, this is very sad.

The government has set a precedence of settling forest evictees and those from Maasai Mau should not be an exception. The only difference expected now is that the government should use past lessons and settle genuine squatters as they come out of the water tower. It should not
evict them, leave them at the mercy of providence before settling them as if it is an afterthought. Humanity must remain sacred.

Experts points that Kenya’s earnings when the forest is finally rescued adds up to billions and thus it will not hurt economy if the government invest by paying out  the squaters  and then reap benefits that occur  from it.

By Guest contributor Nicholas Cheruiyot, Bomet

E-Mail: mngenonick@gmail.com

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