ANCESTRAL LAND

It's impractical to give Mau to Ogiek

In Summary

• A  court has ruled that the title for the Mau Forest should be transferred to the Ogiek people

• The Mau Forest is the largest water tower in Kenya serving almost half the country.

The Ogiek community marks Ogiek Day celebrations on Thursday, May 26, 2022
The Ogiek community marks Ogiek Day celebrations on Thursday, May 26, 2022
Image: OPDP/ TWITTER

The African Court of Justice has ruled that the Ogiek people should be allowed to return to the Mau Forest and given a collective land title for the forest.

This sounds good in theory but would be disastrous in practice.

The Mau Forest is one of the main water towers in Kenya and must be protected. It is a water source for the whole country.

Evictions of Ogiek started in the 1950s when Mau was declared a forest reserve and then continued in 2009.

The argument is that indigenous people steward the land and do not damage it. But Kenya's population has gone up ten times since 1963 and there now around 52,000 Ogiek, not counting those who have intermarried with the Kipsigis and other groups.

Formerly hunter-gatherers, they will now want to farm the land. It is not feasible to resettle them inside the forest. 

The government cannot transfer the land title for the Mau Forest to the Ogiek people but it should pay them the Sh58 million ordered by the court, allow them to collect honey inside the forest but not to live there, and find them land to live on.

Quote of the day:  “I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me.”

Kwame Nkrumah
He became the first President of Ghana on July 1, 1960

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