By Jacob Ng'etich
Lukaskout Jaling’a’ is a worried man in his Nakukulas village, Turkana County. The hot sun swathes his back as he tries to hide under thorny shrubs. His cows, goats and camels are scattered all over the field, foraging the dry grass as he ponders the next move.
Before the discovery of oil in several areas in Turkana, Jaling’a was a free pastoralist who would move with his many heads of cattle from place to place in search of pasture and water.
The only worry then was the incessant attack from the Pokot warriors, who would attack anytime for cattle. “That is not a worry now. What worries us is the kind of restriction that has been put to us since the discovery of the oil. The discovery of oil has brought with it uncertainty over our land,” says the father of two.
He asserts that as pastoralists, they would graze in every part of the vast land without restrictions.
“Our fear was only when the Pokot warriors would strike,” he adds.
Since the discovery of oil in the Nakukulas village, among other areas, he says, many things have changed, more importantly, lack of access to their land.
“The moment oil was discovered, some parts of the land became a no-go zone, the herdsboys are sometimes chased away by those prospecting for oil at Ngamia I,” he notes.
He says a rumour is circulating in the area that places such as Kamak, Kagalee, Kochadil and Akalee hills, through to Kerio Valley would be fenced off for exploration and drilling purposes.
“If that takes place, where will we be living? We are wishing that this oil was not found, we would be living our normal lives,” he notes ruefully.
Nevertheless, to some community members, they are wondering how the Government, against the dictate of the Constitution, gave out the community land without the locals’ consent. Edward Angelei a resident of Ng’akimok village, a few kilometres from Ngamia I, says they were not contacted when the Government was giving out land to the prospectors.
“We wake up every morning only to see people going round our land, no one bothers to explain to us what is happening. We are only told that the land has been sold to oil prospecting companies and no one talks about our future,” he says.