Potopoto Kalenjin Community Forum
23rd April 2013
This program is supported by USAID and the people of Kenya. This report was compiled by the Centre for Community Dialogue &Development (CCDD).
The peace meeting started at 1:30 pm, welcoming remarks were given by the area chief, Chemelil, Mr. Sammy Maiyo. Mr. David Busienei CCDD coordinator then introduced the facilitators for the day while briefing the participants on the previous meetings done at Owiro and Songhor. He appreciated the potopoto Community for turning up for the Peace meeting. He talked briefly about how the participants should conduct themselves during the session.He then welcomed Mr David Cooke to lead the session that was allowing the participants to give reasons that cause violence amongst the Kalenjin and the Luo Communities. Mr. David Busienei during the session
Mr. Cooke encouraged the participants to embrace peace by first understanding the conflict they are going through and secondly offering the appropriate solutions.
David cooke during the session
All participants agreed that land is the major source of all atrocities they have gone through.
Mr. Sylvester Ng’eny said that they have been undermined and manipulated. “The boundary to our land has been changed. we want our boundary back as it was originally. We feel oppressed in this regard and we are asking for the original maps for this place to be brought back so as to review them”, he said. Wilson Kipketer Koech also a participant gave a history that before colonization they were fighting with the luo community what he termed as the normal conquest wars . After independence, the then Vice President Oginga Odinga requested for some space to settle the Luo Community who had been displaced by the floods.He agreed with the then Tinderet Constituency Member of Parliament the Late Marie Jean Seroney to settle them temporarily,which has turned to be a night mare for us.Our Land since then has been encroached from all corners.Nandi people were taken to Uganda and Tanzania. Upon coming back, other communities had settled on their land leaving them displaced till now”. He went ahead and said.
Participants sharing their remarks
Mr. William Sang a participant added that his father was among those people who had been taken to Tanzania during the colonial era in the year 1943. They came back in 1991 only to find their land occupied by other communities. He complained that he could not settle on their ancestral piece of land, and now he is a squatter and does casual jobs to earn a living. This statement was supported by Kipketer Bisem who said that their original boundary had been moved into the Nandi Land. “Our boundary has kept being pushed time and again which is really annoying. He said that then, their boundary was at the railway line.He went ahead and said that this is the major cause of conflict as well. “The people who displaced us stay comfortably on our land while we are homeless. This is an injustice that needs to be looked into and resolved with an immediate effect”. He said.
Mr. bissem giving his remark
Esther Talam, also a participant and a victim of the land displacement agreed that they have been manipulated and they need their land back and the boundary restructured to the original one. Mrs. Sarah Simatei added on the same that they are just surviving and not enjoying a decent life like the rest of the Citizens of this Country.She said that they do not have title deeds, and are like visitors in their own home. “We are asking the authorities to ascertain whether the Luo Community members living on our land have title deeds”.
Esther Talam sharing her point
Mr. Koech asked the government to reinstate their boundary. He blamed the British Colonialists for what they are going through at this time and he emphasized the fact that the original maps should be availed so as to guide them as they are planning to go to Court.
Mr. Koech giving his remark
- Language barrier; some of the members in the forum were older people from the Kalenjin community, and it made it difficult for them to understand English, even through a translator.
- Rugged terrain of the area makes it impassable without efficient means of transport.
Participants in the forum recommended that the boundary issue needs to be solved with immediate effect. The names to the regions they believe belong to them need to be changed for instance Owiro, Songhor and Chemelil just to name a few. The Sugar factories in these places should benefit all the Communities alike. The participants agreed that other communities residing with them who acquired their land legally will only live in peace if the boundary question is addressed and that it’s not their intention to displace any rightful owner of any property.
They also claimed for reparations from the British government for the losses and suffering they went through and are still going through due to land related conflicts. They also asked for a follow up on the leases for land the Indians were allocated.
The community also felt threatened by insecurity in the area whereby people have been attacked and injured regularly especially in the evenings when they are through with their daily errands and are going back home. They are calling on the Government to beef up security in the area to curb this kind of a menace
Mr. Koech also added that they are looking into the land injustices they are going through. He said that preparations are underway to take the matter to court. They have already engaged lawyers who will guide them in these matters. He said that they are hopeful that justice will prevail in the end. They also thanked Mr Busienei who is the CCDD Coordinator for standing with them and guiding them through all the legal processes right from the time of TJRC to date. Mr Koech acknowledged the fact that most of the written complains about their plight have always been captured on CCDD’s website. They are grateful for this.
Rev. Rirei concluded that the community has to be optimistic that the conflicts in the region will be solved. He encouraged them that justice will take place and what is rightfully theirs will be given to them. Mr. Tenai one of the CCDD’s Program officers added that though many conflicts are occurring in the region, there is need to maintain peace . The participants agreed on this and promised to be peace makers by solving their grievances according to the law. David Busienei CCDD coordinator asked the participants to make full use of the constitution to solve their issues lawfully. While thanking the facilitators for the day and the participants for making the day’s agenda successful, he said that the Organization is going to promote the rule of Law along the border as opposed to the rule of the bow and arrows.
Pictorial view of the day’s sessions
Rev. Rirei during the session
David Cooke during the session A participant during the session