Judge cautions against selling of ancestral land

Selling ancestral land is inappropriate and leads to unneeded family disputes.ancestral land. [iStockphoto]

The High Court has warned the family of a deceased person against selling their ancestral land, especially to strangers.

Justice Heston Nyaga opined that selling ancestral land is inappropriate and leads to unneeded family disputes. The judge noted that ancestral land has sentimental value to African families.

“The ancestral land gives the African family an identity of some kind, and selling it erases the identity and memories of the families,” ruled Justice Nyaga.

The judge further ruled that the sale of the land also raises a conflict with other family members of the deceased, which could otherwise be avoided.

He said it would be in the best interest of all family members for their ancestral land to be preserved. The judge made the observations as he declined to allow the family of late farmer Elisha Kandagor to sell his five-acre ancestral land in Baringo County.

The land titled Baringo/Kapchemoswo/648, measuring 5 acres, forms part of Kandagor’s estate, estimated to be worth Sh10 million. “The land in Baringo appears to be the deceased’s (Kandagor) ancestral home, and I find the proposal to have the land sold, inappropriate,” ruled Nyaga.

He noted that Kandagor had two families and ruled the land be preserved for both houses. The court ruled that the land be divided in a ratio that would equally cater for all beneficiaries, including Kandagor’s widows.

“A licensed surveyor will be enlisted to divide the land equitably. Once subdivided, each house shall agree on how to deal with their respective portions. The costs of sub-division shall be met by members of the two houses in the same ratio,” ruled Nyaga.

Kandagor died on August 29, 2011, and was survived by two widows - Emily Talai and Rosa Cheptoo (deceased) and 16 children - 11 from the first house and five from the second house, respectively.

The deceased also left a farm in Kabarak, Rongai Sub County, measuring 51.48 acres, another in Sabatia, Baringo, measuring 21.24 acres and the ancestral land in Baringo. Talai’s son, Christopher Kiplagat and Cheptoo’s son, Kiptui Ngetich, moved to court and disagreed on how the estate should be distributed.

Kiplagat proposed the land in Kabarak and Sabatia be distributed equally among the 16 beneficiaries. Ngetich proposed that the first family retain the land in Sabatia while the second family retain the land in Kabarak.

“Our deceased father settled the two families in Sabatia and Kabarak, and we believe it was his wish the two families retain possession of their respective land,” submitted Ngetich.

Although Ngetich proposed that the ancestral land be divided equally, adding that the two houses retain possession of 2.5 acres, Kiplagat had other ideas. Kiplagat informed the court that the ancestral land was too uneconomical and tiny to be shared among the 16 individuals.