Small Kenyan tribe battles government over fate of forest
The Ogiek tribe hunts and gathers in the Rift
Valley Tinet Forests
Web posted at: 8:04 p.m. EDT (0004 GMT)
Correspondent Alphonso Van Marsh
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- A small rural tribe is taking the
Kenyan government to court over the fate of precious forest land
where tribe members have lived for as long as anyone can remember.
The 5,000-member Ogiek tribe hunts and gathers in the Rift
Valley Tinet Forests, about 120 miles northwest of Nairobi. The
Ogiek also harvest rich honey from forest beehives.
During colonial times, members of the tribe were forced onto
smaller plots as British colonialists settled on the valuable
land. The post-colonial Kenyan government kicked out the British
Last spring, the government served an eviction notice on the
tribe. Officials say they plan to protect the forests, but the
Ogiek fear the land will be illegally sold to agricultural
"They will plant tea and make a lot of money in disregard
of the rights of the Ogiek community," says Joseph Sergon, an
attorney for the tribe.
Last month, the tribe won a restraining order against the
eviction. This week, a court is expected to decide whether the
forest meets the constitutional definition of a homeland. That
would allow the Ogiek to stay.
But there's no guarantee of a quick solution. Similar land
cases have been stalled in Kenya's bureaucratic legal system for
years. And in the meantime, the government considers the Ogiek
trespassers in their own home.
Link : http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/africa/9910/23/kenya.forest/