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

Chapter 5
Promises and More Promises...


62 David Okwembah, "Dorobo Elders Write to Moi", East African Standard, 30 May 1996.

63 "DC: Government to Settle Bona Fide Dorobos", Daily Nation, 1 June 1996.


The story of the Ogiek is a story of harassment, promises and more promises but none of them has been fulfilled.

In June 1996 after a letter62 was written to President Moi, the new Nakuru District Commissioner promised that the government would settle all the bona fide Ogieks at Nessuit Forest.63 For the first time, the Ogieks sighed with relief as the DC denied that the forest had been allocated to outsiders. He asked the Ogieks to be patient and assured them that they would soon be settled.

64 "Help us live in Our Ancestral Land and Retain Both Our Human and Cultural Identities as Kenyans of Ogiek Origin", a memorandum submitted to all Members of parliament by the Representatives of Kenyans of Ogiek Community living in Nessuit and Marioshoni Parts of the Mau Forest, dated July 15, 1996.   Having heard the same promises before the Ogiek elders of Nessuit and Marioshoni wrote a memorandum64 and submitted it to all members of parliament. In the memorandum the elders lamented that they were "unable to secure audience with President Moi to tell him that the "Ogieks" who had seen him on November 4, 1995 and staked claims to our birth right ...were pretenders from Kericho, Bomet, Baringo, and other districts".

65 "36 MPs Plead over Dorobo", East African Standard, 19 July 1996.

66 "Molo Kanu Civic Men Plead for Dorobos", East African Standard, 24 July 1996.

  Armed with this document 36 members of the opposition in parliament pleaded with the government to investigate the plight of the Ogieks.65 On July 23, five councillors from Molo appealed to the government and well-wishers to assist members of the Ogiek community in the area to uplift their economic, health and educational standards.66
67 "MPs to table Dorobo motion", Daily Nation, 4 October 1996.  

The pleads continued on October 3 when three opposition members of parliament, Paul Muite, Raila Odinga and Kiraitu Murungi promised to table a motion in parliament seeking the formation of a Select Committee to address the plight of the Ogiek.67 The three said that the plight of the Ogiek was a matter of national concern but that was the furthest that the parliament came to discussing the Ogiek issue. That was yet another dead promise on the Ogiek.

Previously the government had promised to table the Kenya Forest Draft Bill which was to address the relationship between communities living in or near the forest in conservation.. The bill was at first supposed to be tabled in 1996, then 1998 and then 1999. But this bill was dismissed as "exclusive, elitist, and non participatory".

68 Evans Ombiro, "Forest Communities demand say in Bill", Daily Nation, May 25, 2000.   "Communities living in and around forests were never consulted, had no input in the draft despite being the main consumers and protectors of the forest", said Dominic Walubengo, the director of Forest Action Network.68
69 "Wodera James, "Forests Bill due soon", The People, 26 March 1999.  

Also the government had also promised to table the Environmental Management and Co-ordination bill but nothing happened.69

The draft bill is an offshoot of the 1992 Kenya Forestry Master Plan whose main objective was to come up with a policy that would ensure the sustainable management of the country's forests. But there appears to be no political will to go ahead with the bill.

70 Evans Ombiro, "Forest Communities demand say in Bill", Daily Nation, 25 May 2000.   "We looked at the new draft bill and saw that although communities are mentioned, they were not consulted as to where they will contribute to the management of the forests and how they will benefit", says70 Walubengo who has taken the bill to the communities for input.
71 See Mark Agutu, "Forests under siege", Daily Nation, 11 January 2000.   The government has of late been promising. In January 2000 the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of natural resources Dr Mohammed Isahakia promised71 that they will "integrate local communities into conservation of forests" but that is better said than done. The administration which had been officiating the destruction of the Mau forests told the same meeting that it is the "shortage of forest guards and lenient judicial sentences" that were to blame for the destruction.

Government officials have been accused of participating in logging activities and of allocating themselves large tracts of land in the forest for tree harvesting. Rather than address the situation the government has been playing a cat-and-mouse game in the saga to a point of saying it has sent investigators to probe the continuing destruction of forests and expressing shock that such a thing could happen.

72 Barnabas Bii, "Team dispatched to probe logging", East African Standard, 29 March 2000.


"It is shocking for forestry officials to be engaged in logging despite a government ban on the practice", says E.K. Korir, the Rift valley Provincial Forestry Officer.72

Of course there is no such ban since three major companies were exempted from the ban and this was yet another lie that the issue of destruction was being addressed at the top level. MORE>>



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.