News 2008


Politically Incorrect Using Mau Forest as a cover



Due to the crooked nature of and vested interests by the major protagonists involved, the real issues surrounding the Mau Forest saga increasingly sound like yesterday news.

It is no longer about saving a precious ecosystem. It is hardly the matter of a scary future of vital water catchments and life-sustaining river sources drying up due to wanton rape of the environment by mankind. Rather, it has now become a subject of grandstanding and sabre-rattling. It is back to the familiar scaremongering and ‘us versus them’ language that invariably clouds life-and-death issues.

heated emotions

The subterranean emotions involved are heating up to dangerous levels. A Cabinet minister has no qualms recalling, with apparent valour, how "my people finished 600" people over the same forest scores of years ago. Whether that is legally admissible evidence of culpability for murder and related crime is a valid point especially considering the subject has previously been authoritatively cited for the same crimes.

But even if his ‘confession’ were the recklessness of an incensed tongue, is the preservation of a prime forest worthy spilling human blood for? True, the depletion of the Mau has raised concerns of catastrophic consequences all the way to Rwanda and for good reasons. But can Heritage minister William ole Ntimama swear on the graves of the 600 lives lost in the early 90s over the forest that their fate was fully and only occasioned by conservation concerns?

The answer is no and he knows it. The Mau has been turned into a smokescreen for political schemes tinged with ethnic jingoism. It is a theatre for protecting otherwise questionably acquired property. It has been sadly reduced to an attractive refrain for tribal war cries and a reason to rally community troops to selfish agendas.

So Ntimama vows that his community will not tolerate any more destruction of the forest. But why his community? Wouldn’t his words carry more weight and relevance if uttered in his capacity as minister in charge of National Heritage?

Isn’t the preservation of forests and other national natural assets what his docket is all about? Does he mean to say his community is (or will) suffer disproportionately from the continued pillage of the forest?

coming clean

Before engaging the nation in a sickening fulmination of how their communities will resist "government marginalisation and victimisation" blah, blah, why can’t Franklin Bett, Zachayo Cheruiyot et al have the moral courage to confess private interests in the Mau?

Wouldn’t their resistance to planned evictions carry more weight were they gentlemanly enough to admit owning vast personal interests in the forest?

And if, as they claim, the forest’s excisions that resulted in the settlement now facing evictions were a legitimate Government project to settle the landless, could they kindly explain under what circumstances a State House Comptroller and a powerful Internal Security PS ended up grabbing huge chunks of the set-aside land? Were they genuine squatters? How did well-connected societies end up owning acres of lush tea farms on what should have been land for the poor of the poor?

Grabbers are, in plain language, thieves. They must be treated as such and that ideally should rule out compensation. In fact, to set an example, the State should force illegal beneficiaries of the Mau to demolish their palatial houses at their own expense and to dispose of the resultant debris far away from the forest and in certified environment-friendly ways.