Leave Embobut or get cursed, Marakwet elders tell Sengwer

A section of Embobut forest in Marakwet East as pictured in April 2017. /Stephen Rutto
A section of Embobut forest in Marakwet East as pictured in April 2017. /Stephen Rutto

Marakwet elders have ordered illegal Embobut forest dwellers to move out or be cursed.

The elders joined Elgeyo Marwakwer governor Alex Tolgos and Marakwet East MP Bowen Kangogo in supporting

the eviction of the indigenous

people.

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Members of the Sengwer community have opposed the evictions saying they are targeted and in violation of their rights.

On January 22, the community filed a petition at the Environment and Land Court seeking to compel Kenya Forest Service and security agencies to stop the evictions.

The community secured orders to stop the evictions pending a hearing on February 27.

The Marakwet elders said those engaging in wanton destruction of trees must leave the area.

Elder Richard Kipsaiya said the continued destruction of the 21,000-hectare forest has seen rivers' water levels recede.

He said elders, who are traditionally known for spelling curses, have been notified and are ready to perform the same on an undisclosed date.

"We cannot allow any further destruction of Embobut forest. As elders we are warning the culprits to desist forthwith," Kipsaiya told journalists in Eldoret.

"We shall gather at the forest to perform a traditional cursing ceremony next month. Our lives will sink with the wiping out of the water tower."

Kipsaiya said the forest is the only water source to the drought-prone Kerio Valley and is a source of traditional herbs.

Another elder, Kiptisa Cherop, said communities in the Kerio Valley were threatening to storm the forest to evict the illegal dwellers.

"The destruction is causing a strain between clans living in the semi-arid Kerio valley," Cherop said.

Embobut forest is part of 65,000-hectare Cherangany water tower, which is a crucial water source to Western and Nyanza regions.

Some rivers in Turkana and West Pokot counties also flow from the ecosystem.

Security agencies said an estimated 500 cattle rustlers hide in the expansive forest after stealing livestock.

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