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

Chapter 6
Threats and Lies




The Ogieks have been under constant threats while the general public has been misinformed about their plight.

Several of them have been arrested on fabricated charges and intimidated by the security force. Their only crime is to oppose the invasion of their land.

73 "Settling of Dorobo Community going on well, say DO", Kenya Times, 23 October 1996.  

Even when the Ogiek elders were denouncing the continued invasion of the Ogiek land, the ruling party owned Kenya Times was used to convey the message that the settling of the Ogieks was going on well.73 The then area District officer Peter Kingok at the same time contradicted himself by saying that the "security forces in the Njoro Division had exposed some conmen who had tried to issue bogus allotment letters". This was followed with a warning to the Ogiek not to politicise the settlement exercise as by so doing would derail the programme.

This was interpreted to be a thinly veiled threat to the Ogiek not to talk about the new comers who were getting their land otherwise the whole exercise would be called off.

There was a brief silence among the Ogieks hoping that diplomacy would prevail. But after six months of non-activity the Ogiek nationalism was sparked when it emerged on April 1997 that even a 10-acre stretch of land set aside for a trading centre at Sururu had also been sold. The Ogiek came out in protest.

"We have been taken for granted for a long time, but we cannot continue remaining silent when what is meant to be ours by right is taken away", said Ogiek representative, Joseph Cheruiyot.

74 Dorobos complain over allocated land", Daily Nation, 17 April 1997.

75 "Claim Dismissed", Daily Nation, 19 April 1997.


Cheruiyot told the press that it had come to light that people who had land in Kericho district had masqueraded as Ogieks and got land in Sururu.74 The administration through a local chief, Nicholas Ruto, decided to react by dismissing the allegations as "alarmist".75

It is now known that the provincial administration used the Ogiek chiefs to intimidate, and harass those who opposed the allocation of five-acres per household. Even those Ogieks who had accepted the five acres soon found that they did not own the land.

Kiprono Sigilai was one of them and his story resembles many others. Sigilai's five-acre plot, which had been registred in government files, had been given to a man of the Tugen sub-tribe. On March 15, 1999 a house which Sigilai had built at the plot was torched. Sigilai reported the matter to the local assistant chief Daniel Ngurure but nothing was done.

76 Munuhe Gichuki, Ogiek elders struggle to repossess ancestral land, The People, 9 April 1999.  

"Now that they want to drive us to extinction, where is our ancestral land? We should be treated like other tribes by being allowed to stay on this land, as it is our reserve. Other tribes in Kenya have their own reserves and own districts", says Sigialai.76

Joseph Letuya was arrested on April 4, 1997 and taken to Elburgon police station for "illegally building a house in the forest". Letuya was arraigned in Molo Court and fined shillings 500. After a months stay Milimani Remand Prison in Nakuru town Letuya found that a wooden house had been erected on the same contested plot.

In February 1999 elders do recall that the District Officer at Elburgon visited them and told them to withdraw the case in court otherwise they would not get any title deeds.

On 25 October 1999 Ogiek elders once again called a press conference in Nairobi in which they now demanded that the government state its stand on the issue of Ogiek ancestral land.

77 Odindo Ayieko, "The Ogiek intensify struggle for land", The People, 26 October 1999.  

The press conference led by Ogiek Welfare Council chairman, Joseph Kimaiyo Towett revealed that President Moi had on September 29 toured the Mau Forest but had refused to give any assurance to the Ogiek.77

On the court case, (see chapter 6) Towett said the case was being postponed to frustrate them. A day after that press conference the case was fixed for November 18.

But after that press conference the government moved in and arrested three Ogiek land settlement members including Charles Rono, former chief Joseph Kiplele arap Rorogu and Joseph Barno. They were accused of fraudulently obtaining Kenya shillings 1.16 million from Bomet farmers. Curiously the three had been accusing people from Bomet of taking away their land.

78 Kariuki Kamau, "Ogiek Land: Committee now placed on Defence", East African Standard, 30 October 1999.   When the case came up Rono told the court that he was simply in court because he had protested the invasion of Ogiek land by Kipsigis farmers from Bomet. But state prosecutor, Moses Mbeda, said that the assertion by the defence that the charges were politically instigated were baseless. For his part the former Ogiek chief Rorogu said he was even sacked after he arrested Kipsigis tribesmen who had invaded Ogiek land. He alleged that some powerful people from the Kipsigis community had influenced his sacking by claiming that he was even recruiting Ogieks to join an opposition party.78
79 Kariuki Kamau, "Court Frees Ogiek Settlement Officials", East African Standard, 13 October 1999.  

But senior resident magistrate Stella Munai Muketi, released the three saying the evidence adduced in court "was weak".79

The Ogiek have seen numerous cases brought against them which include "trespassing, creating disturbance, and illegal subdivision" of their land. The following are just a sample of criminal cases brought on the Ogiek in the last 4 years alone.

  • Republic vs Richard Sitienei Barsoi cr. 449/99 (Molo)
  • Republic vs General Lemunge Saning'o cr. 1242/99 (Molo)
  • Republic vs Salim Chemaina Taleti cr. 844/2000 (Molo)
  • Republic vs Joseph Kimaiyo and 12 others cr. 2237/96 (Molo)/P>
  • Republic vs Joseph Kipkemoi and 26 others cr.2247/97 (Molo)
  • Republic vs Martin Kiptiony and 2 others cr.2239/96 (Molo)
  • Republic vs Joseph Letuya cr. 451/97 (Molo)
  • Republic vs Samson Kipkurui Mereno cr. 2252/96 (Molo)
  • Republic vs Francis Rungira cr. 592/97 (Nakuru)
  • Republic vs Joseph Lenduse cr. 1718/99 (Nakuru)
  • Republic vs Samson Kipchirchir Kibitwa cr. 1094/99 (Nakuru)
  • Republic vs Joseph Kimaiyo and another cr. 656/99 (Nakuru)
  • Republic vs Sembui Oris and 5 others cr. 557/97 (Molo)
  • Republic vs James Rana and another cr. 1013/2000 (Nakuru)
  • Republic vs Joseph Kusak cr. 1197/2000 (Nakuru)
  • Republic vs Patrick Kibet Kuresoy cr.1732/2000 (Nakuru)
  • Republic vs. Patrick Kibet Kuresoy cr. 1734/2000 (Nakuru)

In most of these cases plain cloth policemen are always present in courts all in a bid to intimidate the Ogieks. The Ogiek lawyer, Juma Kiplenge agrees that the courts have been used to harass the Ogiek.

80 Interview with our researcher at his office.  

"It is true that there is genuine harassment of the Ogiek by the provincial administration using the courts".80

Another Ogiek lawyer, Mirugi Kariuki concurs and blames the judiciary for failing to follow up the continued subdivision of Ogiek land despite a court injunction.

81 Interview with our researcher at his Nakuru office, 30 August 2000.


"Legal trickery is being used to defeat the original owners of the land...if the appeal fails then we may have to look for a solution in post Moi era".81 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.