The Ogiek
An in-depth report by John Kamau, Rights Features Service

Annex 3
Legal Instruments That Govern Land in Kenya

Kenya does not have a single legal instrument that governs land in the country. But there are several statutes that handle the issue of land. These are:

  • Government Lands Act Cap 280
  • Land Titles Act Cap 282
  • Registration of Titles Act Cap 281
  • Land (Group Representatives) Act Cap 287
  • Trust Land Act Cap 291
  • Registered Land Act Cap 300

There are over 50 statutes that directly deal with land and many others that make constant reference to land. Here below we will take a sample of those that directly affect the Ogiek.

Government Lands Act Cap 280

Under this act the president through the commissioner of lands, allocates any unalienated land to any person he so wishes. Such a land once allocated is held as a grant from the government on payment of such rents to the government as the government wishes. Most of the zones occupied by the Ogiek is covered by Forest Act (see below) and thus deemed unalienated land in the sense that it is not occupied.

Registered Land Act Cap 300

Under this act any person may acquire absolute ownership to any land once he or she has been registered as the absolute owner. On registration such a person acquires freehold interests on the land. Freehold implies absolute ownership. Such land becomes private land and this is what has seen the Ogiek lose most of their land through the provisions of this Act.

Trust Land Act Cap 285

All land, which is not registered under any Act of parliament, is vested on local authorities as Trust Land. Although almost all Kenyan communities have land assigned to them under the Trust Land Act the Ogiek have not been allocated any. In these Trust Lands a person may acquire leasehold interest for a specific number of years. The local authorities retain the powers to repossess such land for their own use should the need arise.

Wildlife (Conservation and Management) Act Cap 376

This Act prohibits hunting except with a license. This law has seen the Ogiek as intruders in the Mau Forest rather than joint owners.

Forest Act Cap 385

This Act gives the minister wide powers to declare any unalienated land to be a forest area, to declare the boundaries of the forest and to alter the boundaries. The minister is also vested with powers to declare that a forest area cease to be a forest and all he is supposed to do is give a 28-day notice to the public via Kenyan gazette notice. The same Act grants the minister powers to issue licences for the use of forest produce. Under this Act the Ogiek have found they contravening the law by using forest products, including honey, without the consent of the minister.



Ch. 1: Ogiek: History of a Forgotten Tribe
Ch. 2:
The Struggle Begins, The Struggle Continues
Ch. 3:
The Closed Society

Ch. 4:
Wanton Destruction
Ch. 5:
Promises and More Promises
Ch. 6:
Threats and Lies
Ch. 7
: The Court Battle
Ch. 8:
The Aftermath

Pt. 1:
The Ogiek Community Submission before the Njonjo Land Commission
Pt. 2: Epilogue
Pt. 3: Conclusions
Pt. 4: Recommendations

Annex 1: Declarations on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities
Annex 2
: The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights
Annex 3:
Legal Instruments that Govern Land in Kenya

The Ogiek: The Ongoing Destruction of a Minority Tribe in Kenya Copyright © 2000 Rights News and Features Service. Citations on this document may be made freely but copyright is vested in Rights News and Features Service. Unless otherwise stated all the views expressed here are those of the authors and are endorsed by Rights News and Features Service, which is responsible for the content in this publication. First published in Nairobi by Rights News and Features Service, First Floor, College House, University Way, P.O. Box 63828, Nairobi, Kenya. Phone: +(254-2) 311724. E-mail: Copies of the report may be ordered from Rights News and Features Service.