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Magarini women climb sand dunes to protest land injustices

Some of the women who took part in a demonstration to protect their land rights at Mamburui in Magarini Sub-County, Kilifi, October 7, 2016. /ALPHONCE GARI
Some of the women who took part in a demonstration to protect their land rights at Mamburui in Magarini Sub-County, Kilifi, October 7, 2016. /ALPHONCE GARI

More than 1000 women from Magarini Sub County yesterday took part in a rare demonstration of climbing sand dunes to protest against land injustices.

The women both young and old including physically challenged and men supporting their cry for justice marched from Mamburui area along the beach for about two kilometers before embarking on the journey to go up on top of sand dunes.

Traditionally women in Magarini and Kilifi county at large do not have right to own land.

Sand dunes in the area they chose were high, sandy and tough to reach on top due to the high humidity of the sun and height forcing them to nickname them ‘mini Mt Kilimanjaro’.

Wearing scuffs labeled “hashtag stand up for women to Kilimanjaro’ ‘Action Aid Kenya’ and ‘Malindi rights forum’ the women begun their two hour journey under the hot sun while singing songs of justice demanding to be give their rights to own land.

They also carried placards marked ‘I stand up for women’s rights to land’ which they carried high as they climbed the sand dunes, a journey that took nearly four hours.

Since they did not have water the women at one time had to dig a temporary well in the sand dunes which was less than a meter deep to get water to quench their thirst.

Slowly they began climbing the ‘mini Mt Kilimanjaro’ a very hectic journey as some almost gave up.

Journalists also accompanied them and experienced the challenges of climbing ‘mini Mt. kilimanjaro’ which to the demonstrators meant to show the challenges facing women in the traditional society.

There were about three ‘mountains’ to climb as they walked and a man was showing the way , strange enough there was no going back after start of the journey even if one gave up since it would be more hectic.

Their leader Truvena Manga the chairperson of Malindi Rights forum who led the women demonstrators said they came to climb the sand dunes dubbed ‘mini Mt Kilimanjaro’ to show the world how women in Kilifi county suffer and still had no right to own land.

Addressing journalists after the demo she said in Magarini there is massive destruction of water sources by the salt firms that affects women who are forced to search for the commodity for long distances.

“We want the constitution to be implemented Chapter four article 40 which says everybody has the right to own land,’’ she said.

In Magarini Sub County and Kilifi County art large women and girls do not own land as normally they are supposed to be mere housewives to cook for their husbands and give birth to children.

The demonstrators said women were regarded as child bearers and cooks who had no rights to own land or even take part in any decision making process.

“Women are treated as workers in the kitchen, they are not involved in any crucial meetings,’’ said one of the demonstrators.

Chadi Charo an elderly woman who was among the demonstrators said women were not supposed to own land and only their husbands’ names appeared.

Mrs. Charo a victim of early marriage from revealed how she was married off to an old man by her father to get dowry.

“My father sold me off at the age of 16 , to get money and drink traditional palmwine (Mnazi), I have no right to own land and have suffered all through my life,’’ she said.

She blames her father for denying her education since it could be a weapon to fight the injustices.

“I have six children and they are all in school enough is enough its time as women to get our rights as stipulated in the constitution,’’ she said.

Margaret Nduku a resident of Magarini said she has been unable to get land ownership documents after her husband’s death because the record only shows the man’s name.

“The process required to change ownership is long and expensive and in cannot afford,’’ she said.

The demonstration was also preparation for East African Mt Kilimanjaro climbing in Arusha on 13.

A delegation of 120 women will travel from Kenya. Already 30 mountain climbers will set off for Arusha today.