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The history of land injustices in Maa community — Tinaai

Upon the exit of the colonizers in 1963, the community hoped that subsequent post-colonial regimes would help restore their land, but instead they further entrenched the atrocity

By A Correspondent

Historical land injustices meted against the Maa community since the pre-colonial era are among the main grievances by the community and the nation at large, says renowned land rights expert Daniel ole Tinaai.

An ODM politician and former Kajiado Senate aspirant, Tinaai said the community has borne the brunt of land injustices since 1895, when the British colonial administration forcefully alienated from the Maasai chunks of highly productive land, which were later christened “White highlands”. As a result, the community was pushed to inhabit dry and unproductive areas.

Upon the exit of the colonizers in 1963, the community hoped that subsequent post-colonial regimes would help restore their land, but instead they further entrenched the atrocity, arguably using land as a means of political patronage.

The view is corroborated by the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report handed to President Uhuru Kenyatta on May 3, 2013: “President Jomo Kenyatta presided over a government that was responsible for numerous gross violations of human rights… illegal and irregular acquisition of land by the highest government officials and their political allies.”

The report further states that President Daniel arap Moi, who held reins for 24 years, also presided over illegal and irregular allocations of land.

The aftermath of all this, Tinaai says, was that other communities indiscriminately “under the watch of their political godfathers” took over lands that were otherwise supposed to be restored to their initial owners — the Maasai.

According to the politician, this explains why some regions today have Maasai names, yet are not inhabited by the community.

In its 161-page report, the Bethuel Kiplagat-led TJRC recommended to the National Land Commission “in furtherance of its mandate” to expedite the process of addressing and/ or recovering all irregularly/ illegally acquired land.

“Unfortunately, to date we are still experiencing protests in places like Kedong Ranch in Nakuru County, goat and sheep group ranch adjacent to the Nairobi National Park and the Lemek Group Ranch in Narok County, which the National Land Commission has been battling to purchase for a military base,” said Tinaai.

Others are Ngong Veterinary land, Maasai Rural Training Centre in Isinya, and Oloirien Group Ranch in Kiboko, Kajiado East Constituency.

Kedong, for instance, has recently been in the media limelight as locals held demos to protest the construction of a multibillion-shilling inland container depot (ICD).

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga yesterday (February 21) told Maa delegates at the Maasai Mara University, that he had consulted President Uhuru Kenyatta (about the Kidong saga), and he promised that it will be resolved.

Tinaai says most of these lands were initially set apart ostensibly for future development, but later the persons appointed to manage them colluded with powerful government officials to grab the land.

He says despite various recommendations by government-tasked commissions of inquiry, namely TJRC and the Ndung’u Commission on Illegal and Irregular Allocation of Public Land, asking the government to address land injustices, very little if anything has been done due to lack of political will.

In a press release dated February 20 signed by the Kajiado County Youth Alliance (KCYA) chairman Robert Lempaso, addressed to the South Rift Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) secretariat, the Kajiado youth recommended “that the Waki and TJRC reports be implemented in totality.”

Tinaai however expressed faith that the BBI that held its fifth popularizing rally today (February 22) at William ole Ntimama stadium, in Narok, would address the matter once and for all.

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