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Community takes over ‘ancestral land’

By By Antony Gitonga | Published Mon, July 30th 2012 at 00:00, Updated July 29th 2012 at 20:26 GMT +3

By Antony Gitonga                            

Members of the Isahakia community have taken possession of over 1,700 acres in Naivasha, saying that it was their ancestral land.

The community accused the State of oppression and vowed not to vacate the vast land located next to Naivasha G K Prison.

Drawn from all parts of the country, members of the community held prayers on the land for which they claimed that they had legal papers.

Overcome by joy, some members shed tears, saying that after years of seeking elusive justice, their prayers had been heard.

The group leader, Mr Ali Farah hit out at some civic leaders from  Naivasha Municipal Council for delaying their resettlement.

Untold suffering

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He said the community was ready to take their case to the International Criminal Court, saying that like other communities in camps, the Isahakia had undergone untold suffering.

“We have gone to various offices seeking justice and we are ready to die on this land if anyone tries to evict us,” said an emotional Ali.

The Isahakia were among the first communities in Naivasha and were brought in by Lord Delamere from Somaliland in the late 1800.

They are currently involved in a protracted court case with Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (Kari) over the ownership of another piece of land in Naivasha.

Ali said that for years the community had suffered and wondered what happened to the promise that all land injustices would be addressed.

Sara Ismael said that her great grandparents were born in Naivasha, adding that their land was grabbed by influential people.

Squatters

“We are living like squatters after our land was grabbed by some flower farmers and we have vowed to die protecting this piece of land,” she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by Zara Mohammed who said the community had been taken in circles for many years.

“We call upon the Chief Justice to investigate cases involving the Isahakia community as we feel that were are not getting justice,” she said.

In April last year, a report was tabled following a directive by Justice Roselyne Wendo requiring Officer Commanding Station John Owuoth to assess and make a written statement on who owns property on the land.

Among the property listed are a dairy training institute, 50 staff houses, Kari dispensary run by the Ministry of Health, a primary school and 234 sahiwal bulls.

Justice Wendoh had directed the Naivasha OCS to file a report in seven days on the status of the land, whose ownership is contested by Kari and the self-help group.

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