Ogiek People Say They Are Forgotten Victims of Kenyan Election
24 June 2008
De capua interview with Kiplangat Cheruyot - Listen (MP3)
recovers from last December's post-election violence, the Ogiek
people say they remain the forgotten victims. Their homes were
burned and members of their community were attacked.
The Ogiek live
in the Mau Forest in Kenya's Rift Valley and are the country's
largest forest-dwelling hunter-gatherer community.
( Burnt Ogiek home in Nakuru )
Cheruyot is the program officer for the
Peoples Development Program. From the town of Nakuru, the
scene of much of the violence, he spoke to VOA English to Africa
Service reporter Joe De Capua about reconciliation efforts with
post-election crisis in the country, there was a sign of a deal
between…two political parties. It brought the whole country a
unity, a kind of a solidarity that we forget the past and try to
develop the country or national development. So, the Ogiek
community living in Mau Forest are now happy about the situation
because there is a power-sharing in this grand coalition
government. So, lately there haven't been skirmishes, no more
clashes. What people are doing, they are trading. They are doing
business. And there is no sign of an enmity that you can see, like
what happened during the election crisis," he says.
He adds, "Everything
now is getting better. There is a healing process going on and
reconciliation process going on."
Ogiek elders have been meeting with elders of other ethnic groups to
restore peace. "The Ogiek can move out of the forest and they can
buy food… And they come to find the Kikuyus moving deeper into…the
forest and try to buy firewood…and at the same time to buy some
honey," he says. The Ogiek are honey gatherers.
and reconciliation efforts, he says the Ogiek have not been
compensated for their burned houses or destroyed property. The
Ogieks supported the opposition party, led by Raila Odinga, in the
burned. In fact we have a number of videos. We have pictures of
those houses, which were burned. But so far, the Ogiek community has
not rebuilt these houses because, one, they do not have resources to
build that. And secondly, they are not part of the people who are
being counted as people who should be compensated by the government
following the post-election crisis," he says.
post-election violence led to destruction of property )
One reason for
that, he says, is the Ogiek did not travel to the cities to register
with police as being displaced. Instead, he says that they were
hiding in the forest to escape the violence. Cheruyot estimates
about 40 houses were burned.
He says that
the Kenyan government has compensated those who were displaced and
sought shelter in camps. He says that each person received a payment
of $140 each. Cheruyot says that a commission set up to ensure
people are able to return to their homes has not visited the Ogiek
are writing letters to the government requesting assistance.