Archive 2003


Hunter-gatherer and pastoralist peoples are playing an active part

Hunter-gatherer and pastoralist peoples are playing an active part in the conference which is debating Kenya's new constitution. That they are able to do so is a breakthrough and a sign of hope for tribal peoples' rights in Kenya. The Maa Pastoralists Council and other pastoralists' organisations have sent delegates, and a pastoralist representative has been elected Vice-Chairman.
As the conference debated the issue of community land, Ogiek delegate Ezekiel Kesendany pointed out that his people, the Ogiek hunter-gatherers, should be allowed to live peacefully in their forest or be resettled on their original lands.
The Ogiek are one of the few remaining hunter-gatherer peoples of East Africa. Ever since colonial times there have been attempts to evict them from their ancestral forest, usually on the pretext that they are degrading it. But when the Ogiek are removed, their forest is not protected but rather exploited by logging and tea plantations--some owned by government officials. In some parts of the Mau forest, groups of Ogiek are now resisting eviction, while in others they face influxes of settlers onto their land. The most serious threat currently facing them all comes from the government's plan to open up around one tenth of Kenya's forests--most of it in Ogiek territory --to outsiders. This will open the way for more settlers, loggers and tea plantations.
The constitutional conference reconvenes on August 17.
Source:  Survival International