Index of this compilation


4.1 Continued allocation of Sengwer ancestral land to other communities, Politicians and Civil Servants

4.1.1 Case of Riaman Farm (Former ADC Milimani Complex)

4.2 Sengwer leaders endeavor to meet with District Commissioners of West Pokot, Marakwet and Trans Nzoia; Pokot and Marakwet Leaders

4.3 Denied Sengwer recognition as a separate and distinct ethnic group

4.4 Eviction of Sengwer people from their ancestral home

4.5 Discrimination when carrying recruitment and employment

4.6 Imposing Leaders

4.7 Cattle Rustling



"No one shall be subjected to "torture [46] or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. [47]

Sengwer have been subjected to psychological (Mental) torture since forceful eviction from our ancestral lands by British colonial government. Hitherto, we have no peace.

"We were oppressed by the colonial government and when we got independence the African government followed the footprints of the colonizer. We are marginalised and discriminated… [48] 

Sengwer elders and leaders have tried in vain to seek avenues and assistance in addressing injustices affecting the Sengwer nation. Since independence to date a lot of letters and memoranda have been written and sent to the late President Hon. J. Kenyatta [49] , President Hon. D.T.Arap Moi, American Ambassador to Kenya, Human Rights Standing Committee, Attorney General, Ministers, Senior civil servants, Provincial Commissioner Rift Valley, District Commissioners (West Pokot, Trans Nzoia and Marakwet), etc. Besides, the leaders have been able to meet some of these people in person. 

"Your Excellency Madam, we the Sengwer…we have tried to see his Excellency the President of Kenya through Provincial Administration and Politicians but all in vain. Even we have tried to write letters to his office or state house but no reply at all. To us this is inhuman and violation of human rights…Sengwer were displaced…by colonial government, before independence. Even after independence, Moi still disregard our tribe for seventeen (17) years of his era. Even now he still allocating his kinsmen to our ancestral land and denying us our rights" [50]

Our grievances have been and are: 

Ø Recognition 

Ø Our Ancestral land (Land Issues) 

Ø District - Sengwer district 

Ø Nominated member of Parliament 

Ø Education and Employment 

Ø Insecurity 

Ø Appointment to visit the head of state

4.1 Continued allocation of Sengwer ancestral land to other communities, Politicians and Civil Servants

After independence, the government did not take time to research on communities who were displaced from their ancestral lands by the colonialists. For example, Pokot and Marakwet from the letter below had every right to be considered for land allocation in Trans Nzoia, which is not true.

"I am directed by the president to refer you to your memorandum and letter dated the 16^th July 1963 and state that he fully sympathises with your aspirations but regrets that it will not be possible to have a separate entity of Cherangany people solely under one Regional Government Agent. He gives the following reasons:

1. that the Cherangany people, having their own locations like in Elgeyo-Marakwet, have always lived happily together with the Marakwet and Pokot without any mention of separation;

2. that when there are any Schemes, as there are at the present, the Cherangany people are being treated on equal footing without any disregard with Marakwet and the Pokot;

3. that the Cherangany people have never before sent any representation to any commission like the Carter Land Commission, the Boundary Commission, etc;

4. that the Cherangany people are not an exception in this matter as there are, for example, Masai in Tanganyika as well as there are in Kenya and Kalenjin in Uganda and Kenya too;

5. that there has never been any difficulty of language because the Cherangany have always spoken Kalenjin and their children educated with the Pokot, Marakwet and Keiyo in the same schools;

6. that no one has ever been forced to be registered against his will, to be what he is not, for the Cherangany like any other people in their locations have been counted as Cherangany; and that there were never any objections in any previous census like the 1948 ones; and

7. that if ever there will be any division of the Trans Nzoia District it will only be between the West Pokot and Elgeyo-Marakwet and the Cherangany in both districts will gain anything that will be gained in the same way the Pokot and Marakwet will." [51]

According to the above letter, the postcolonial government recognised other tribes, as beneficiaries of Trans Nzoia whenever there'll be any allocation of schemes and division of the district. The government did not take time to identify the ethnic group displaced by the colonial government instead it considered aliens.

Immediately, after independence most of the land left by the Europeans was given out as settlement schemes to groups and individuals while the remaining portion was made Agricultural Development Cooperation (ADC) farms run by the government. All the settlement schemes were given out to members from other communities, which include Kikuyu, Nandi, Keiyo, Marakwet, Kisii, Kipsigis, Luhya, Turkana, Tugen, etc.

"Trans Nzoia is a small Kenya." [52] Hon. Dr. Wekesa, M.P. for Kwanza constituency said that all tribes in Kenya have their representatives who have acquired land in Trans Nzoia. Sincerely, this is in the expense of the Sengwer and Kony nations forcefully evicted and displaced by the colonial government. 

Please, could the non-ancestral landowners (black colonizers) in Trans Nzoia take their time to think and ask themselves, "where are the ancestral owners of Trans Nzoia? What is their situation wherever they are?"

The black colonizers have come to our ancestral land and decided to import their names into our country. You'll find our ancestral territory with such names as Kiambu, Munyaka, Konyek, Chematich, Motosiet, North Kisii, Wamuini, Karara, Kaptugen, Toro, Kahuho, Geta, etc. 

"Katika Constitution, katika katiba mpya, Serikali yenu imeahidi kwamba kila sehemu ya nchi kama ni ya Maasai itakaa kama ilivyo ikitawaliwa na Maasai wenyewe …Kama ya Wanandi, Wanandi ndio watatawala nchi yao, hiyo ni kusema ardi yao. Hakuna mtu kutoka inje kwenda kunyakuwa mali yao. Mashamba yao ni shauri yao kujua watafanya nini nayo." [53] The president made it clearly that no one tribe will grab another tribe's land…Maasai land will remain Maasai land and the Maasai will know what they'll do with their land. In a nutshell, Sengwer land will remain for the Sengwer and they are the one to decide how they will use their land.

The following are some of the ADC farms within Sengwer ancestral territory given out to members from other communities, politicians and civil servants: ADC Kipsingori, ADC Jabali, ADC Milimani (Former A.C. Hoey farm before Duke of Manchester), ADC Zea, etc. All these ADC farms were given out to the dominant communities, Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Provincial Commissioners, District Commissioners, etc without considering the ancestral owners. 

4.1.1 Case of Riaman Farm (Former ADC Milimani Complex)

On 6^th October 1993 when his Excellency President D.T. Arap Moi was officially opening Turkwel Hydro Electric Power station, Sengwer traditional dancers as they sing requested the president to consider allocating ADC Milimani to the community since it was part of their ancestral land. 

On 7^th October 1993 at Milimani state lodge in Cherangany, a Sengwer elder Mr. Barnaba Rotich Ngesemwo, once again requested the president to allocate land to the community. As the president was addressing the audience, he directed the provincial commissioner Rift Valley (Late Mr. I. Chelang'a) to make sure that Sengwer community is allocated ¾'s of ADC Milimani and the whole of Kapolet forest. 

Sengwer community leaders followed the implementation of the president's directive in vain. 

On 27^th January 1994 community elders and leaders met with Mr. Timothy Sirma, District Commissioner, Keiyo/Marakwet district at Yemit A.I.C. The D.C. was the chairman and Samuel Lagat, District Officer, was the secretary. The purpose for the meeting was for the D.C. to clearly understand the background information of the Sengwer community and community's relationship to the Riaman farm. Sengwer elders and leaders gave a detailed history of the community and Riaman. The D.C. promised to forward our grievances to the head of state and P.C. This was in vain. 

In 1995 when the president was opening Pipeline Company Eldoret Branch, Sengwer Traditional Dancers as they entertained the quests appealed to president that his directive to settle the community members in ADC Milimani and Kapolet has not been implemented. 

On 18^th November 1995 Sengwer Traditional Dancers after qualifying during the national music festival in Nairobi had an opportunity amongst other dancers to entertain the president at State House Nakuru. Once again as they sing they reminded the president that his directive of 7^th October 1993 has not been implemented. 

In April 1996 atleast 50 members of our community, leaders and elders camped at the gate to statehouse, Nakuru, for three weeks in an effort to have audience with the president. The main aim was for the president to resolve the issue of settling the community members in ADC Milimani and Kapolet. Instead of meeting the president they were arrested and detained in Nakuru Central Police Station for atleast five hours. They were released after recording statement. 

On 13^th February 1997 at Milimani state lodge in Trans Nzoia, the Sengwer Traditional Dancers group reminded the president that the community has not been settled as per his directive of 7^th October 1993. The president when addressing the public starting by commenting on the Sengwer plea made by the dancers. He said, *"From today your problems will be solved."* Nothing has been done so far. Things are getting worse and worse. 

On 14^th February 1997 the president, at Milimani state lodge, confirmed to Sengwer leaders Councilor Richard Kiptum Kipkeiyo, Mr. Edward C. Kibowen and Mr. Jeremiah K. Ruto in company with Kenya Seed Managing Director Mr. Nathaniel Tum that Sengwer land issue has been solved. 

On 12^th March 1997 at 9.30 a.m. Councilor Richard Kiptum Kipkeiyo and Major (Rtd) David Cheruiyot Kiplagat met the Commissioner of Lands late Mr. Tomno in his Ardhi Office to discuss the settling of Sengwer people in ADC Milimani. The Commissioner said that: 

a) He is aware Sengwer were given former Duke of Manchester, 

b) While having a meeting with Trans Nzoia D.C. Mr. Joseph Mangira, Mr. Rashid, Mr. Koskei and himself Sengwer was not in the agenda as one of the community to be considered for allocation in ADC Milimani. 

c) Sengwer is not known as a tribe and the population is not specified. 

d) The only arable land is 3,500 acres and 9,500 acres is hilly and forested. 

e) The land in question has been issued out to: 

· Marakwet 2,500 acres 

· Turkana 600 acres 

· Government Officials 1,000 acres 

· Nandi 6,000 acres 

· Others 1,500 

f) That the late P.C. Mr. I. Chelang'a had told him that Sengwer were selling land 

g) There was only 100 acres, which can be available for allocation to Sengwer people. 

The leaders did not accept the 100 acres. They told the commissioner that "the allocation of the ADC Milimani to other communities and lack of implementing the president's to settle Sengwer is a purely corruptive system of the highest order." 

On 22^nd March 1997 approximately 2000 Sengwer community members invaded ADC Milimani where they camped in the open until 31^st May 1997. 

On 25^th March 1997 atleast 10 community elders and leaders were arrested. But, before the arrest they asked the Administration Police and Regular Police officers the following questions: 

· Is any of you given land or allotment letter? They said no. 

· Now you are ready to arrest and harass those who were given the land by the president in expense of the grabbers? 

· Were you not in state lodge Milimani (Duke of Manchester) on 7^th October 1993 and 13^th February 1997 or haven't you heard that Sengwer were given this farm by the president just as other communities although they were not the losers to white settlers/colonisers as the Sengwer and Kony? 

· Now that we have surrendered to you, don't beat or harass our people on this farm until the president intervene between the D.C. and Grabbers. 

The arrested community members were taken to Kitale court charged for trespass and holding a unlawful meeting. Later on the case was terminated and there was no solution arrived at by the court. 

On 29^th May 1997 15 community elders and leaders were taken to Provincial Commissioners office Nakuru to discuss the ADC Milimani issue. The P.C. was the Chairman and other participants were D.C. Trans Nzoia, D.C. Marakwet, and Security team from the districts and provincial level. 

The community elders and leaders were told to vacate ADC Milimani. If they continue insisting, then force shall be used. The alternative given was that the community members move to Kapolet forest (over 3000 acres), which was one of the farms, which the community members were to be settled as directed by the president. The community's representatives were forced to accept to go back to the farm and convince the other members to leave. The issue of Kapolet is still a nightmare. The community members allocated there have got no documents to support the said allocation or settlement. 

The Post-colonial government has done more harm to the Sengwer community than the British colonial government did. When we fought for independence every community i.e. different tribes hoped that they would be given back their lands and territories and natural resources. But those who got the chance to rule the country (Kenya) snatched all land and territories including Natural Resources and gave them to the members of their tribes 

The indigenous minorities were deprived of their ancestral land and territories and Natural Resources by well - connected ruling big communities. The Sengwer people were and are still discriminated. When Kenya became independent country most of the communities were given their own districts. Others have even been given two or even five Districts while Sengwer are denied despite the fact the community has persistently requested the government. 

4.2 Sengwer leaders endeavor to meet with District Commissioners of West Pokot, Marakwet and Trans Nzoia; Pokot and Marakwet Leaders 

On 11^th April 1966 Sengwer elders met Mr. Erick Cheserek to discuss a possible way of resolving the issue of Kipsoen of Kapolet Crown Land (ANNEX I). 

On 28^th May 1987 Sengwer leaders wrote a letter to Pokot community leaders (Members of Parliament, Clerk to Pokot County Council, Chairman Pokot County Council, etc), West Pokot District Commissioner and all District Security team. The purpose of the meeting was to have a closed-door meeting between Pokot and Sengwer leaders. The DC was to chair the meeting in his office in Kapenguria. Objective of the meeting was to discuss the plight of Sengwer community - psychological persecution mania and draw a plan for future survival of Sengwer community. Meeting was to be held on 5^th June 1987. The Pokot did not turn up. No meeting took place. The Pokot know very well that Sengwer have ancestral rights in the district and hence they cannot accept to have a roundtable to discuss the issue. 

4.3 Denied Sengwer recognition as a separate and distinct ethnic group

The community has for along time requested the government to recognise Sengwer as one of the ethnic groups in Kenya. Truly, we are a distinct group. The government has denied us our right of identity as Sengwer. When carrying out population census we are either counted as Kalenjin, Pokot, Marakwet, Keiyo, Sabaot, etc. We are non-of these tribes. 

We have been denied identity code number, despite the fact that we've continued to call upon the government to give us our Sengwer code number. The government is violating our human and indigenous rights. 

"The Indian who once occupied this land, his own land, the Indian no longer has any land. Today, we occupy a very small territory just enough to survive. But, the Indian will no longer live as a Xavante or as a member of tribe or as a chief - he'll be mixed up like mud or sand or cement or stones and this will go on until doomsday." - Speech of Mr. Mario Juruna a Xavante Indian - Brazil during one of the sessions of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations. 

In 1999 between 24^th to 31^st August the government was carrying out population census. Every recognised tribe in Kenya was given census code number even those grouped under Kalenjin had their own code. Sengwer and other minority groups did not appear in the list of communities to be enumerated. Majority of the community members boycotted the exercise. Some of those in West Pokot were threatened that if they are not counted they'll not be given drugs at the district government hospital and also no relief food. Some of the community leaders were arrested.

The community members were told to be counted as Kalenjin, which was another way of ensuring that our identity as Sengwer is lost completely. The postcolonial government is doing exactly what the colonialist did to the Sengwer [54]

After going through frustrations and threats we succeeded. We were given a code number 081 for census on 28^th August 1999. Unfortunately, the results per every tribe have not been released yet.

4.4 Eviction of Sengwer people from their ancestral home

Sengwer community members, approximately 5,000 in number, who have been and still live in Empoput forest in Marakwet district have been constantly subjected to torture by provincial administration, forest game officers and neighbouring dominant community. Their houses, foodstuff and other property either burnt or destroyed in the name of forest conservation. 

It is not their wish to be in the forest, but nature. This is their home. It is their life. It is their survival. They have been living in harmony and coexistence with the environment. 

4.5 Discrimination when carrying recruitment and employment

Sengwer community members are considered as aliens in their own ancestral territory, simply because we don't have a district of our own - Sengwer District. 

"The community is discriminated in West Pokot, Marakwet and Trans Nzoia districts only members of Pokot, Marakwet, Nandi and Luhya ethnic groups are considered, because either the districts belong to them or they are the dominant group…Sengwer form a minority…Sir, for continuity of Sengwer indigenous peoples we sincerely, request the government to give us a central place for recruitment (employment) exercise for the Sengwer community [55]

4.6 Imposing Leaders

The government has continued to impose provincial administration officers (Assistant Chiefs and Chiefs) from other ethnic groups or members of Sengwer community who will serve the interests of the oppressor and not Sengwer. 

Sengwer community members in West Pokot and Marakwet districts have seen such leaders being imposed to them. The imposed leaders have contributed to economic and social deterioration of Sengwer community. 

The chiefs and their assistants have colluded with members of the land control board to sale community's land to outsiders without following the right channels and even not considering the situation of poor uninformed children and women. You'll find situation where a man has sold the whole of the family land including the house (s) - only the wife and children realize of the sale of land when the buyer comes to evict them. 

Besides, these administrators have made sure that illegal alcohol continue to be brewed within the community without arresting the brewers. This is aimed at to let members of the community continue drinking alcohol to facilitate easy sale of land and also to paralyze education of the Sengwer children. 

4.7 Cattle Rustling

Cattle rustling has been used as a tool by a dominant community in West Pokot to evict other communities from the district. 

On 28^th October 2000 at Mtelo Hall in West Pokot district when the COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO THE LAND LAW SYSTEM OF KENYA, THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ACT (CAP.102 - LAWS OF KENYA) visited the district to collect views. Sengwer community members presented their views orally and written memoranda. Pokot leaders threatened us. They said we are squatters and aliens to the district. The leaders said they'd continue stealing cattle until they are given their land in Trans Nzoia. Besides, they warned us that they will steal our cattle as a polite way of saying get out of the district. An Assistant Minister, Mayor of Kapenguria Municipal Council both Pokot and many others threatened us. The Pokot leaders said all these threatening words before the Commissioners of the Land Review, the District Security Team and other top government officials. No action has been taken till this date. 

Sengwer community members have continued to loss their cattle through cattle rustling and their appeal to the government to be given home guards and or Kenya Police Reservist (KPR) has not been fruitful. Only twenty members from the community were trained as KPR in West Pokot and Trans Nzoia districts (10 in each district). Out of the 10 in West Pokot 4 have been given guns while those in Trans Nzoia have not been given any gun despite the fact that members from other communities have been armed. 

Cattle rustling has paralyzed the community's economy. Hence, majority of the families cannot afford to take their children to school.