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Rift leaders want locals evicted in colonial era paid

RIFT VALLEY
By Edward Kosut | October 21st 2021

Uasin Gishu County Governor Jackson Mandago addresses business communities during the official opening of Khetia Garments Cash and Carry wholesale in Eldoret. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The land question in the Rift Valley took the centre stage during the 116th Koitalel Samoei memorial ceremony in Nandi County.

A section of North Rift leaders claimed that several years after independence, the multinational tea estates still sit on land which was violently taken over from members of Kalenjin community in Nandi, Kericho and Bomet counties.

The political leaders asked the government to review the land leases, claiming that justice should be served as families lost their kin who fought the colonial government.

They faulted the renewal of the land leases, claiming that the controversies and disputes surrounding the grabbed land should be resolved by involving the affected.

The leaders, who attended the ceremony were Governor Stephen Sang and his Uasin Gishu counterpart Jackson Mandago, Soy MP Caleb Kositany and others from Bomet, Baringo Kericho and Bomet.

“I am putting the government on notice that the matter should be addressed with the urgency it deserves.

“We cannot continue having people who were flushed out of their lands helplessly watching British-owned farms from top of the rocky hills,” Mandago said.

He claimed that since independence, the multinational companies have been paying the government rates of Sh100 per acre annually.

Languishing poverty

Mandago, who is also the North Rift Economic Block (NOREB) chair, claimed that the national government has been a stumbling block to the counties’ move to secure billions of shillings streaming to foreign companies.

“The paradox is that tea is the leading agricultural commodity being exported, and it is earning the country billions of shillings, but locals in the plantations are languishing in poverty.

“We need them to sufficiently benefit when these firms boost their economic standards through Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives,” Mandago said.

Sang claimed that the long-standing historical land injustices have not been addressed as the government ignored the Ndung’u Land and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission reports.

“If the government is committed to addressing the historical injustices in Kenya, the recommendations made in the reports must be implemented,” Sang said. “The land needs to be returned to the original owners, for, they have been landless for too long.”

He said that majority of the families, including that of Koitalel Samoei, lost their kin and were pushed out of their ancestral land by the colonialists.

Kositany urged the government to use Sh10 billion set aside by President Uhuru Kenyatta to compensate families affected by the colonial government.

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