NEWS 2004

 

 

Index of this compilation

 

OPEN LETTER TO  Hon. Mwai Kibaki M.P. CGH - 15.10.2004

UPDATE - 13.10.2004

Kenya Government Torturing Sengwer indigenous community - 08.10.2004

86 members of Sengwer arrested - 08.10.2004

 

 

SENGWER ETHNIC MINORITY INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY
P.O. BOX 3894, KITALE 30200 - KENYA
Email: sengwerc@yahoo.co.uk



OPEN LETTER TO



Hon. Mwai Kibaki M.P. CGH
President of Kenya and Commander in Chief of The Armed Forces
Office of the President,
Harambee House, Harambee Avenue
P.O. Box 30510,
Nairobi

Your Excellency Sir,



Ref: Sengwer Land Grievances Call for your Urgent Intervention



Excellency Sir, we the undersigned people on behalf of Sengwer an ethnic minority hunter-gatherer indigenous peoples hereby bring to your attention Sengwer Land Grievances for your urgent intervention to avert clashes in Cherangany constituency and its neighborhood in Trans Nzoia.



Colonialist

  1. Evicted and displaced members of Sengwer indigenous community from the plains of Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu districts to create room for settling White settlers
  2. Introduced Forest Preservation Policy that denied community members their right to:- live in the forest; exist as a tribe; have their own leaders; practice their customs, laws, tribunals; etc
  3. Allowed other communities to have land in Sengwer territory
  4. Denied Sengwer native reserves



Post Independent Kenya

Kenyatta Era

  1. President Kenyatta's speech (While he was still a Prime Minister) on 5th February 1962 after arriving from Lancaster assuring Kenyans that New Constitution that Kenya has promised that in every part of the country if it is for Maasai it will remain as it is under the rule of Maasai themselves….Nobody from outside (meaning another tribe) will grab their property (i.e. land). This neither enacted nor implemented as promised by President Kenyatta in his speech
  2. Immediately, Kenya became independent state white settlers farms in Trans Nzoia were either converted into government firms (ADC, KARI, NARC) or SFT (Settlement Fund Trustees). Kenyatta and Moi settled members from other communities (under SFT) in Sengwer ancestral land in Trans Nzoia without considering the Sengwer and i.e. why today you find names such as Kiambu, Munyaka, etc within Sengwer ancestral territory



Moi's Era - Moi followed the footsteps of Kenyatta and continued to give out Sengwer land to other communities, friends, civil servants, members of parliament, etc without considering the landless Sengwer tribe. Only, Moi tried after Sengwer Traditional Dancers intervened in 1993 that he directed the provincial administration to have Sengwer community settled in a lions share in ADC Milimani Complex (Former Duke of Manchester/AC Hoey) and the whole of Kapolet forest both farms in Trans Nzoia district.

ADC Milimani Complex was grabbed by the powerful people in the government their tribe mates leading to over 2000 Sengwer people invading the ADC farm between February - June 1997. Some members of the community were arrested, taken to Kitale court but later released without any judgment. 

On 29th May 1997 while invaders were still in ADC farm some leaders and elders from the community led by the current Deputy Mayor of Kapenguria Municipal Council Clr RK Kipkeiyo were taken to Nakuru for a meeting with PC Rift Valley. The PC told the leaders/elders to have community members leave ADC farm (since the whole of it had been given out) and move to Kapolet forest .

Hitherto, only 489 community members have been settled in Kapolet forest and thousands landless others have been waiting patiently to be settled in the remaining portion of the forest in vain. 

On 4th October 2004 leaders and elders were shocked and left with no alternative other to move in and settle in the remaining portion of Kapolet forest when Trans Nzoia district commissioner (while laughing and swinging on his chair) told them that their settlement in Kapolet forest is illegal since it was Moi who gave out to the community to have KANU and Moi himself win in 1997 general elections. It was unfortunate and it was the first for the members of the community to meet a government official who cannot welcome visitors or even give an opportunity for introductions.

It is shameful and painful that while today members of Sengwer community are living in fear, torture and as 'squatters' in their ancestral territory the black settlers in the neighborhood (few meters away) are happy, rich, peaceful, developing, etc within Sengwer territory!!!!



We request you to urgently:

  1. Advice the District Commissioners (Marakwet, Trans Nzoia and West Pokot) not to interfere or disturb members of Sengwer community who are now living in and those still moving to settle in Kapolet forest
  2. Facilitate dialogue between the Government of Kenya and Sengwer community. To be attended by District Commissioners and Members of Parliament from Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Marakwet and Uasin Gishu districts; Ambassador of Britain
  3. Set up a commission to investigate and make recommendations on Historical Injustices/Wrongs (Colonial and Post Colonial) - With special attention be given to ethnic minority hunter-gatherers who today have not even been recognized as tribes in Kenya i.e. Sengwer, Ogiek, Yiaku, Watta, Sanye, etc.
  4. Advice parliament to adopt and implement:- The Draft Constitution of Kenya; Njonjo Land Commission's report; and Ndungu Land Commission's report
  5. Suspend the ongoing National Land Policy Formulation Process (NLPFP) until Ndungu report is released and all marginalized are adequately and effectively represented by setting up a 7th thematic group to address Pastoralists and Hunter-Gatherers


Your Excellency Sir, we are a peaceful indigenous community, we love immigrants in our territory and we shall live in harmony with them so long as the government recognizes our right to live in Kapolet forest. Besides, it is our prayer that the government leaves us to settle in Kapolet forest without any interference. We are forest peoples (hunter-gatherers) we shall protect the forest while we carry out bee keeping and any other activity that is in coexistence with the environment.



Sir, we be shall be grateful for your positive intervention.

May God bless you. May God bless Kenya

Yours Faithfully,

On behalf of Sengwer Indigenous Community


Mr. Dickson K Rotich

Mr. Amos R Chesuswa

15th October 2004




CC

Hon Murungaru Minister for Provincial Administration and National Security
Hon Kiraitu Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs
Hon Kimunya Minister for Lands Settlement and Housing
Hon Musyoka Minister for Environment Natural Resources and Wildlife
Hon Kirwa Minister for Agriculture
Director General NSIS
British High Commissioner
Ambassador of USA
European Commission
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Kenya Land Alliance
Catholic Justice and Peace Commission - Kitale
Minority Rights Group International
Survival International
Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee 
Centre for Minority Rights Development
Cultural Survival
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights
Kenya Human Rights Commission
International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs
Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples

----------------------------------------------------------------

UPDATE - 13.10.2004

The 86 members of Sengwer an ethnic minority hunter-gatherers arrested last Thursday were charged with felony by a Kitale court on Friday and each given bond of Kshs 2000. By Saturday in the afternoon only one person was still in the police cell in Kapenguria. 

Besides, on Sunday 4 people(3 women and 1 men) were arrested and taken to Kapenguria police station and today they were to be taken to Kitale court. 

Otherwise, determined members of our community are getting on moving to Kapolet forest for settlement. Those already in the forest are busy to set up traditional houses (Keerios) and are making traditional bee hives. 

The community members ensure that they'll protect the indigenous forest and say No to disturbing the neighbouring tribes living near the forest. They want to observe peace in the region. They only request that the government does not send police to disturb their peacefull settlement in the forest. 

I will keep you informed. 

Thanks for your intervention. 

Good wishes. 

Yours Faithfully, 

Yator Kiptum

 

---------------------------------------------

Kenya Government Torturing Sengwer indigenous community

Fri, 8 Oct 2004 

Dear all, 

It is my hope that one day Sengwer (also referred to as Cherangany or Dorobo) will find peace and live as other Nations that make Kenya a country. 

Elders and Leaders from the community have used every opportunity at their disposal to raise fundamental issues affecting the indigenous community since Kenya became a British colony to date, but little has been acheived. 

For example:- They've presented oral and/or written memoranda in

  1. 1932 during the Carter Land Commission
  2. 1999 boycotted population since until the government gave them census code number 081 (we are not sure if it wat gazetted or not or we were cheated)
  3. 2000 participated in Njonjo Land Commission
  4. 2002-2004 participated in Constitution of Kenya Review Commission


Besides, the community has held several meetings with DCs, PCs, MPs, Kenya Human Rights Standing Committee, Cabinet ministers and other top government officials - but, no congrete response. Sweet stories aimed at cooling down tension. 

We now want serious dialogue with the government to resolve issue of our ancestral land, right to recognition as a separate ethnic group, representation in parliament, right to employment, right to security, etc 

We hope your esteemed office will be able to help Sengwer an ethnic minority hunter-gatherer indigenous peoples to live as other tribes in Kenya. 

Thanks and good wishes 

Yours Faithfully, 

Mr. David Yator Kiptum 
Executive Coordinator 
Sengwer Indigenous Development Project 
P.O. Box 3894, 
KItale 30200 
Kenya 
0734689958 

-------------------------------------

86 members of Sengwer arrested

86 members of Sengwer an ethnic minority hunter-gatherer indigenous peoples(79 men and 7 women) arrested last evening by regular and administratioin police officers recorded statements this morning at Kapenguria police station and then headed for Kitale Law Courts. 

Sengwer is among the few ethnic groups in kenya today still fighting to be recognized as a separate and distinct tribe in Kenya after the colonial forced them to be assimilated to the dominant tribes e.g. Pokot. Besides, the colonial government evicted and displaced them from the prime in land Trans Nzoia to settle the white settlers. In addition the colonial government introduced forest preservation policies that led to further eviction of community members living in forest areas i.e. Kapolet forest included. 

Sengwer community members are distributed in West Pokot, Trans Nzoia and Marakwet district where their situation is characterized by marginalization, torture, oppression, illiteracy, mal-representation, discrimination, poverty, etc. Sengwer in diaspora are found amongst Pokot, 
Marakwet, Luhya, Maasai, Sabaot, Sebei, Tugen, Keiyo, Turkana, etc tribes in Kenya and neighbouring countries. 

The arrested were among the many landless community members suffering within Pokot community. They were coming back home to settle in the remaining portion of Kapolet forest- the land of their ancestors/great grandparents. 

In early 1990s former President Moi gave a directive to the provincial administration to settle members of the community in former ADC Milimani (Duke of Manchester) and Kapolet forest since the two farms form part of our ancestral land. The powers of the day grabbed ADC Milimani and Sengwer 
left out. This made the community to invade ADC Milimani in 1997 and stayed for about three months. Many were arrested and taken to court but later released with no judgement - but, the provincial commission Rift Valley province in presence of District Commissioners from Trans Nzoia and 
Marakwet ordered community leaders to tell the invaders in ADC farm to move to Kapolet forest and occuppy the whole of it - over 3000 acres, although in the minutes of the meeting at the PCs office on 29-5-1997 it was indicated 3000 acres. 

Only 489 community members have been settled in Kapolet forest. For over 7 years the government has failed to continue settling community members in the remaining portion of Kapolet and besides it has not issued titles or even allotment letters to those settled already. 

ON 4th October 2004 the District Commissioner Trans Nzoia told community leaders and elders that the settlement of the community in Kapolet is illegal since it was given by Moi and KANU government to get votes during 1997 general election. He said it will be upon the cabinet to decide on the fate of the community in Kapolet forest. 

It is painfull that today over 40 years since Kenya became independent Sengwer community is still fighting even to get a portion of their ancestral land back. Besides, as we suffer in police custody - immigrants in our territory are busy in their farms and businesses. Colonial government, Kenyatta and Moi regimes gave out most of our land in Trans Nzoia to members of their tribes, political correct people/communities. 

Sengwer community members will not rest untill they return and settle peacefully in the land of their ancestors. Historical Injustices MUST be addressed NOW by the KENYA GOVERNMENT. 

Kapolet forest and the neighbourhood belong to Sengwer children - the dead, the living and future generations. 

WE REQUEST YOU TO PRESS UPON THE GOVERNMENT TO :- FIRST, NOT TO TORTURE 
OUR PEOPLE CURRENTLY IN POLICE HANDS. SECONDLY, SENGWER LAND PROBLEM TO BE 
ADDRESSED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. THIRDLY, NDUNGU REPORT ON GRABBED LAND BE 
RELEASED IMMEDIATELY. RELEASE, ARRESTED COMMUNITY MEMBERS WITHOUT ANY 
CONDITION. LASTLY, FACILITATE DIALOGUE BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND SENGWER 
ELDERS?LEADERS 

Thanks for your time and assistance 

Good wishes 

Yours 

Yator Kiptum 
Executive Coordinator 
Sengwer Indigenous Development Project 
P.O. Box 3894, 
Kitale 30200 
Kenya 
0734 689958

OGIEK HOME