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Ogiek ask William Ruto for cabinet post, demand ancestral land recognition

Ogiek Council of Elders Chair John Lobolo. [Daniel Chege, Standard]

The minority Ogiek Community wants President William Ruto to appoint one of them to his cabinet.

Speaking to The Standard, community leaders, hailing from Nakuru, Kericho, Narok, Baringo, Nandi and Uasin Gishu counties, said it is time they are recognized.

John Lobolo, the chair Ogiek Council of Elders, said despite their fight for recognition for over 14 years, they still feel like outcasts in their own country.

He said until the government appoints one of their own in the cabinet, their suffering will continue.

“We support the President but we want him to fight for our rights and give our children job opportunities in his government,” said Mr Lobolo.

The chair believed that President Ruto was instrumental in the nomination of the late Victor Prengei as a Senator. Prengei died on August 16, 2021 in a road accident.

Mr Prengei was nominated by Jubilee Party in 2017 to represent the youth in the Senate. He was the first Ogiek community MP and was seen as a voice of the minority communities.

“If we get a representative or two in the cabinet and the government, we will know that the President fights for all Kenyans,” said Lobolo.

Lobolo wants Ruto to also respect the court’s decision as he promised. He was referring to a May 2017 judgment by the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights in Arusha, Tanzania.

The judgment confirmed on June 23, last year ordered the Kenyan government to title Ogiek ancestral lands in Mau Forest.

The court noted that the government had violated their rights as guaranteed by the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The Ogiek were awarded Sh57 million material damages and Sh100 million moral damages to be paid by the government within 12 months.

“We are an indigenous community and ancestral owners of the Mau Forest, since time immemorial. The government should allow us to settle in Mau as per the court orders,” he said.

He called on the President to ensure they are allowed to occupy the forest and live peacefully like other ethnic communities in the country.

Francis Maritim, the chair of the Ogieks in Kericho reminded the president that despite his misfortunes, Prengei was loyal to him.

He said that the community has unemployed graduates and PhD holders and deserves a place in the government.

Alice Cheruto, an official from Mau east called on the President to provide them with a place for women to use traditional medicine for maternal health.