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January 16, 2019

3,000 Ogieks evicted from forests to get land title deeds

A file photo of members of the Ogiek community during a demonstration against a government resettlement exercise. /BARRY SALIL
A file photo of members of the Ogiek community during a demonstration against a government resettlement exercise. /BARRY SALIL

The government will issue land title deeds to more than 3,000 members of the Ogiek community who were living in forests in Uasin Gishu.

Most of the Ogieks were evicted from Kipkuere Forest in Uasin Gishu and Nandi but have been resettled on alternative land nearby. In Uasin Gishu, they were in parts including Tarakwa division in Kesses constituency.

Kesses MP Swarrup Mishra said on Saturday that Lands CS Farida Karoney has approved the issuance set for April.

“It has taken long but we thank the new CS and her team for being committed to tackling the problem," he said in Eldoret.

Nandi Governor Stephen Sang has launched the registration and documentation of historical injustices relating to abuse of land rights affecting individuals, public institutions and communities.

A team that is yet to be formed will dig into the injustices and ensure they are well documented.

Related: Victory for Ogiek as African Court rules against Kenyan government

Also read: Why African Court judgment matters for Ogieks and us all

Sang noted that large scale tea farms that were taken over by multi-national groups were originally owned by local communities.

“The issue of land and historical injustices has hampered the quest for prosperity and harmonious co-existence in the county. I pledged political goodwill and use of county resources to ensure the matter is resolved."

The Governor spoke at his office on Friday during a meeting of the representatives of squatters.

He intends to seek compensation for atrocities committed by the British government against the Nandi community before and during the colonial era.

The county chief noted many in the county were affected by land related injustices committed by the colonialists.

"They were deprived of land which rightly belonged to them including the tea farms," he said.

“My administration and various stakeholders will inject the much needed political goodwill and vigorous determination to address the matter and ensure a final resolution."

The operation will pave the way for the county to pursue justice through the courts and other mechanisms provided for in the Constitution.

Sang said: “The process of righting these historical wrongs will be carried out with strict adherence to the Constitution and relevant legislation."

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