The tittle should actually read something like this:
Unfair distribution of natural resources, The case of Wildlife Conservation in Laikipia County
Unfair distribution of natural resources in laikipia county is generating a negative attitude towards wildlife conservation especially following the Eland land saga. ……
The Maasai/Samburu and other pastoral communities DO NOT(EQUALLY) benefit from natural resources in their midst.
Anglo Maasai Treaties have violated our rights to lands and natural resources thus minimizing our chances of surviving any kind of change.
Keeping our normal lifestyle is no longer an alternative since we do not own any land neither do we have resources to buy any while our population is expected to rise. The lands were sequestered to British ex servicemen and mobility.
There was no compensation for, neither was there restitution after independence.
Those acts violated the Indigenous Maasai rights to natural resources like grazing spaces for their livestock.
We are requesting the president to recognize our plight particularly regarding the Eland case which is still in court. The President of Kenya should not allow the Maasai/Samburu land in Laikipia to be donated to, sold, or converted to a National park before the court case is settled.
The history of the said land does not begin from the forceful and brutal eviction of the people who occupied it.To better understand the case, we need to gather facts from the country’s 100 years history.
Although the people from Eland land ware kicked out without a proper compensation or re-allocation in place,the community managed to open a case in court asking for the land sale or donation from AWF to the KWS to be stopped til the case in court is settled.
The government of Kenya’s main purpose by constitution is to protect the Kenyan people against internal and external enemies at all times.
All the Maa/Samburu people who occupied the Eland land may not be able to write this open letter or join the ongoing social network discussions to seek a honorable re-dress. Therefore, as a community Para-legal Worker, I have taken the mandatory obligation to initiate a dialogue. Injustice committed against one of us is injustice against all of us.
The Maa people who were made squatters have been among the most significant actors in protecting the wildlife in their neighborhood. These people have not yet seen the financial benefit of wildlife conservancies because the solid foreign income the country generates from tourism is yet to trickle down to the main protectors of this national treasure we’ll inherited. Since independence, it has been the government and the private settler and other native entities who have continued to enjoy the conservation revenues.
Aside with the economical injustice against the Maa indigenous and protectors of the wildlife, the nominal effect of the eviction is that the now made squatters shall have to move themselves to some place.
And where will that “place” be?
My personal guess is as good as your, may be Mukogodo colonial reserve of 1934 will be the new home for the forcefully evicted Samburu people.
As I write this, the systematically marginalized Mukogodo reserve residents are asking the president to give (us) land. This community have a viable land case that should be addressed and especially within the context of our homegrown constitution.
We have a lot of faith for our new constitution that it will have a lasting political solution for this borne of contention.
Unequal allocation of land before and after the colonial era is the bases of all injustices in Kenya. Land is the basis for our survival as a people, an inextricably linkage to self determination.
We believe that it is the root cause of tragic occurrences as the 2007 Post election violence that left more than 1.500 people dead and more than 600.000 people displaced.
Poor management and crime against the people of Kenya with impunity has fostered a culture of the strong feeding on the poor and ignorant. The ignorance of the masses, the negligence of the elected leaders and the systematic suppression of our unitary government is reflected on the plight of many Kenyans and in particular, the even more marginalized indigenous Maa/Samburu ethnic groups.
The Maa people have not been successful in pursuing land legal cases ever since their territorial lands were robbed from them before and after the colonial era.
The Maa/Samburu people find themselves on the loosing side because of notoriously poor leadership and, yes, ignorance of the masses and the silence of the good men and women out there.
Land case is a good example for serving justice but justice is not served in our formal legal systems. You need to be aware of the formal law and wealthy enough to “buy” justice. If you don’t have enough money to “buy” yourself a good lawyer, you’ll most likely loose.
Suppose the Samburu people of Laikipia looses the court case? Where shall all the forcefully evicted people go?
Laikipia is completely patched with animal sanctuaries and parks. The only human accepted areas are townships and Mukogodo colonial reserve.
If you ask anybody, those Samburu who’re now squatters, kept cows therefore they’ll not re-allocate to townships. They’ll most likely end up in Mukogodo reserve.
However,the land on which Mukogodo people occupy is barren. It can not take more people neither can it take any wild or domestic animals. It is dead.
That land can only be used for modern hybrid farming. That is if the government, community or other wealthy entities introduce green houses irrigation schemes and maybe zero grazing as a change of lifestyle among the Laikipia Maasai.
Given a good and just hearing, we might turn a tragic systemic injustice into an orchestrated harmony of peace and tranquility.
But still, Mukogodo has limited chances of supporting our community. It has become over grazed by both goats,sheep, donkeys and cows. The Eland eviction might end up creating resource based violence between the The Maa/Samburu in Laikipia in the very near future. Worse though, the Samburu cows from Eland will not survive the dry weather in Mukogodo.
Maasai domestic animals who’ve adapted to the harsh conditions in arid and semi arid weather still die during long droughts and famines due to various reasons. There is no proper grazing management due to lack of land.
The Maasai in Mukogodo can not follow their old seasonal migratory roots because they’re enclosed in small patch of dead land between huge White settler ranches. Moreover, poor animal marketing leads to the death of many animals who would otherwise be sold before the onset of the dry season.
The non existence of a meet industry in the neighborhood does not help the Mukogodo situation either. The prices are controlled by buyers.
The desperate seller will eventually have to submit to the buyer’s terms.
The pastoralist feels they are smoothly robbed in which ever business they venture into.
What do you do with your cows if you have no one to sell them to?
We produce a lot of raw material but we can not depend on them for a living.
For us, it’s like giving away a heifer for a peace of moccasin shoe for a school child.
I know of many resilient families who’re traumatized by the death of their animals but they keep on repeating the same process. Personally, I know this is near to insanity because we can not continue repeating the same traumatizing process and expect to get different results. Mukogodo people must embrace change or they die off like the big animals who may have been to big to change. That is the height of my personal self criticism.
But how then can we move on when we have limited resources.?
One idea could be:
Masses of unused land must be acquired by the government and be relocated to the needy people.
Then there after: Programs to develop acquired land to be formulated and implemented for the common good.
People must be activated to be more productive. How can we do that in Mukogodo?
Our people are living on handouts and relief food. It is a shame to our government when Maasai culture is as valuable to the tourist department as any other resource. Given the acquired productive land, the Laikipia population shall be re-organized in schemes for irrigation and eco-tourism programs under the watchful eye of our unitary and regional governments.
Animal and human Rights::We belief in the notion that all human beings are created equal. We all have the right to quality living. Animals too, have the right to be protected by us and respected as very reliable allies in our existence. Therefore, the acquisition of land must be done under stewardship of the constitution placing significance on balance sharing of our common natural inheritance.
Regarding the Maasai culture and the need for diversity: Our culture is vital but it is dying out at an alarming rate. It is almost only practiced for tourist entertainment. Maasai people must be given equal opportunities to integrate their culture with that of the modern world. This is in line with the right to multiculturalism and bio-diversity in both Animal and human kingdom. We confirm this to be an essential pillar for our liberties ,respect and equal acknowledgement between human and animal kingdoms.We therefore affirm that we can not conserve one life at the expense of another. The locally available resources are enough for all of us, we managed properly.
The Anglo-maasai treaties that led to the lost of land and natural resources such as The white highlands violates our social-cultural, economic and political rights. The Constitution of Kenya must find a long lasting political solution for such land sharing injustices in laikipia county. It’s very significant that the government refrain itself from perpetrating such injustices by not allowing itself to be manipulated like in the case of Eland farm. The government should denounce the land sale or donation by AWF to KWS or any other related purchase until the court case is settled. The Government should, even after the court case is settled, supervise a long lasting political solution for the land crises in Laikipia and else where. This step is to prevent future occurrences of such tragic violence like the 2007 post election violence.
2. More significantly, the government must with immediate effect compensate, and settle the forcefully evicted Samburu population. Failure to this, will lead to resource based violence wherever the Samburu Eland population will seek refuge.
3. Community owned fair-trade eco-tourism.
The idea of moving people for the sake of animals is perilous to the main idea of conservancy. Conventional knowledge dictates that if the community is involved in wildlife conservation and they get to utilize the generated wealth, the result will be obvious. The moment the population see their lives changing to the better due to the wealth generated by proper management of their wildlife, the more they’ll want to be involved.
A positive attitude will be projected when the community feels that they have full control of ownership, access and utilization of the solid foreign currency generated from the conservancy.
4. So far, the Maasai feels entirely excluded in terms of access, control, ownership or utilization of any conservancy Revenue from tourism and other natural resources from Maasailand. The revenue must be re-invested to improving the lives of Maasai people and those other communities living within the region.
The region must benefit from resources within their jurisdiction. Tricky point: The government should consider to fully ratify and implement the international convention that observe the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities. The UN draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.
Kenya should not reserve itself on the ILO convention 169(108) regarding the rights of indigenous peoples.
In case of impossibilities to return lost land to Maasai, then restitution and compensation should be mandatory.
5. Similarly, private companies that are operating in Laikipia County must create employment opportunities to locals instead of importing workers When 99.9 percent of the Laikipia youth are jobless.
The game park and privately own huge lands surrounding Mukogodo shall contribute to our well-being.
6. Dormant land must be allocated to landless combating appraisal schemes like community irrigation and green house farming programs.Land acquired through criminal means must be returned to the people of Kenya.Infrastructure development.
7. Roads and social services establishment. Pri-schools, polytechnic, colleges and heath facilities should be considered a priority for a prior maintenance of our people while the local government establishes itself in the new county head quarters.
8. Training, health and veterinary personnel in pastoral areas should also be prioritized . People should feel they run their own-community appraisal issues. The main issue is to attain a natural co-existence between the Human and The Wildlife Kingdoms with both parties gaining from the peaceful nature of the other.
Saidimu Ole Ngais.