SHIFTA WAR SQUATTERS

Shifta war survivors reject resettlement plans

The squatters cite corruption in the exercise and doubt its genuineness

In Summary

•Plan to resettle Shifta war survivors denounced over "secrecy and integrity issues"

•The squatters demand reparation and to be returned to their original villages 

Thousands of squatters protest land grabbing in Lamu.
Thousands of squatters protest land grabbing in Lamu.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

Shifta war squatters in Lamu County have opposed a plan by the county government to resettle them. They want ongoing land surveys to be stopped.

Thousands of them were displaced from their homes in the '60s especially in  Lamu East's Kiunga, Ishakani, Mvundeni, Mwambore, Mokowe, Kiangwe, Kiwayu and Faza villages.

 

Last year, the county government said it planned to resettle at least 20,000 squatters on idle land in the next four years. Each of them will get a title deed.

 
 

Governor Fahim Twaha said land survey and demarcation had started in Pate, Kiunga, Mwambore, Mokowe, Kiangwe, Kiwayu and Faza.

On Thursday last week, the squatters met in Lamu town and asked the county government to stop the survey because they had not been consulted.

They cited corruption in the exercise and doubted its genuineness as it was shrouded in secrecy.

The squatters want the national government to disclose the findings of the TJRC report that documented the details of the Shifta war and to make good its recommendations.

We won't allow that survey to go on because we know people want to take advantage of our situation. We want the TJRC report made public, then we want to be compensated for all we lost and finally, we need an apology for the injustice in all these years.
Lamu Spokesperson, Mohamed Mbwana

Their spokesperson, Mohamed Mbwana, said it would be prudent for the world to know the particulars of the Shifta war.

He said the government owes the squatters in Lamu an apology for all the years of injustice.

The squatters want reparation from the national government before the resettlement by the county government.

The squatters asked why the survey was being done without their presence or involvement. “If we aren’t there yet they claim to be doing it for us, it leaves a lot to be desired.” 

They want to be taken back to their original villages.

“The government should just rebuild our homes and clear the bushes so that we can just go back to where we lived before the war. We don’t want to be resettled as we understand the process is corrupt and not genuine,” said Tima Amin.

The squatters said they had no faith in most of the individuals involved in the resettlement over integrity issues. Some, they said, have been adversely mentioned in land grabbing in the region.

They threatened to go to court to stop the resettlement if the county government fails to respect their stand.

“We don’t want anything to do with what the county is doing. Anyone claiming to help us must first meet us and listen to us and if they do so, they will understand that we all want to go back home and not be resettled,” Mussa Kale said.