Kenya: Mt Elgon MCAs Echo Ogiek Community's Grievances

Members of County Assembly from Mt Elgon Constituency in Bungoma County have added their voices to call for justice for the Ogiek community which was evicted from Mt Elgon Forest eight years ago.

The MCAs, who were speaking on Wednesday after attending a court session at Mabanga Farmers Training Center (FTC) in Kabuchai constituency, said the community will not have a place to call home if the government does not rescind the decision.

The Ogiek community living at Chepkitale in Mt Elgon Forest have sued the government for evicting them from their ancestral land and gazetting it as the national game reserve.

The MCAs who attended the court session and spoke on the matter are Francis Chemion (Kaptama), Hillary Kiptalam ([Elgon) and Frankline Simwoto (Chepyuk).

"The community has lived in this forest since colonial times and have nowhere to go after the government evicted them from Chepkitale area," said Chemion, who is also the Bungoma County Assembly Minority Leader.

Hunters and gatherers

He said the community should be allowed to stay in the forest since they have been conserving it.

"We don't know why the government evicted the Ogiek community and yet they have been taking good care of the forest," said Kiptalam.

Simwoto said the community greatly depends on the forest for survival.

"The Ogiek community are hunters and gatherers and they can't find their livelihood outside the forest," he said.

The community claims that the government erred by evicting them from the land which they had resided on since 1932 after the colonialists drove them out of their farms in Trans-Nzoia.

The community also wants the government to de-gazette the national game reserve and also compensate them for loss of property which they incurred during the eviction.

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