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Row over Kipsigis 'sacred' land county governments want to give Sikh community

By Nikko Tanui | Published Thu, March 8th 2018 at 00:00, Updated March 7th 2018 at 23:59 GMT +3
The contested land is located in Ng’eny, Soin/Sigowet constituency in Kericho County [Courtesy, Google Maps]

Controversy is brewing over 55 acres of land the county government plans to give the Sikh community for construction of a university.

Local elders said the land located in Ng’eny, Soin/Sigowet constituency, is a sacred place for members of the Kipsigis community and must therefore be preserved.

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“Our forefathers set aside this piece of land for the community. The land has water that treats some common skin diseases and is also used to deworm cattle. It is also the source of natural salts for livestock. That is why we are opposed to the construction of a university here,” said Joseph Terter, one of the elders, yesterday.

Mr Terter said the construction - planned by the Guru Nanak community - would also affect water supply because the land is in a (water) catchment. 

“We all know Soin/Sigower constituency is a semi-arid area. Ng’eny is the only river that has survived droughts and is our only source of water when all the other rivers dry up. The construction will affect the river,” he said.

Kericho is the home of Guru Nanak Nishkam Jatha, the biggest Sikh temple in Africa. The county is of great significance to the Sikhs as it was also the home of Sant Singh, the founder of their faith.

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Kitur arap Song'ony, another elder, termed the property community land and vowed they would not allow it to be taken over by the government or members of the Asian community.

"And if they insist on snatching the land, even the gods will not accept it. The county should find alternative land for the Sikhs," he said.

Deputy Governor Susan Kikwai and County Lands Executive Barnabas Ngeno, Charles Birech (Roads) and Edna Ruto (Education) however called for calm.

Ms Kikwai said Governor Paul Chepkwony would soon visit the area in an attempt to resolve the stalemate.

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