Image property of: Rita Willaert
“We are old elders and we have never seen anything like this before. It feels like our life is coming to an end. This is government discrimination against a minority tribe. Our own government is punishing us. This place is our home … it’s where we were brought up and where our children call home. It’s an ancestral land.” – Samburu elder
Kenya’s Indigenous Samburu People say that they were beaten, abused and raped by local police after their land was confiscated.
According to the Guardian, the Samburu were violently evicted from their land last November after the US-based Nature Conservancy and the African Wildlife Foundation purchased the land and then generously gifted the stolen land back to the Kenyan government to establish the Laikipia National Park.
As a result, thousands of families have been displaced and forced to live in makeshift squalors or relocate.
The use of language in the article is very interesting. For instance in the article, the author states that the land was gifted to Kenya. First off, the land never left Kenya. Second, how can you call this a gift?
Perhaps this is how the land grabbing phenomenon is being done now. Have an outside ‘nature conservation’ concerned groups come and steal land and then return it but not to its rightful owner.
The Samburu are one of Kenya’s seven main pastoralist tribes. Pastoralists are some of the most marginalized people in Kenya, often having virtually no say over the changes that are impacting their lives. Pastoralists derive their livelihoods mainly from natural resources – pasture, water, natural vegetation and livestock.
- Crop farming and Irrigation – The Samburu communities practice small-scale irrigation along the Kerio and other major rivers in the North Rift. They grow millet, sorghum, cassava, bananas, cotton and vegetables.
- Livestock- Cattle, goats, sheep and camels are the main source of livelihood for the Samburu who derive 90% of their livelihood from sale of the livestock and products such as milk, hides and skin.
- Honey, medicinal herbs and hand-made items- On average 70,000kg of honey are produced annually in Marakwet, West Pokot, Baringo and Samburu districts. Making and selling of crafts is an important trade among the Samburu. Most of these cultural products like beads, bracelets, and necklaces are made from local materials. The Samburu also sell medicinal herbs to Somalis who export them to Saudi Arabia.
Image property of: Rita Willaert
In a report by Cultural Survival, since February 2009, Kenyan police have launch attacks on at least 10 different Samburu villages:<
In each case, hundreds of armed police conducted well-coordinated, military-style attacks. They killed, raped, beat, and robbed Samburu villagers completely at random and set homes on fire. In one attack, they seized all of a community’s cattle—4,000 head—leaving the community with no source of food during a devastating drought.
For example, before dawn on November 21, 2009, police helicopters and ground forces approached the sleeping village of Loruko. Ground forces fired their guns and mortars into the village, killing a woman as she nursed her infant. Four villagers were hospitalized with serious gunshot wounds. Police forced hundreds of women, men, and children into an open area outside the village, where they kicked and beat them while other police looted their homes.
In Lerata, on January 10, 2010, some 200 police arrived in trucks and Land Cruisers and started beating women and young boys who were outside tending goats. The police then forced their way into the village where they stole the people’s cash, cell phones, watches, and school supplies. They emptied gourds of milk on the ground and mixed sand into the flour so people had no food at all. They attacked nine young warriors and two junior elders, beating five of them unconscious. Afterwards, fearing another attack, some villagers took their children to hide in the bush every night, saying, “We would rather take our chances with the wild animals than face the police again.” Two days later, police conducted a similar attack on the village of Kiltamany, where they stole everything of value, beat elders, and raped three terrified women who now fear infection with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.
According to the Intercontinental Cry the attacks are aimed at modernising Indigenous People:
Though unconfirmed, there have been reports that a Kenyan military officer has leaked documents suggesting this ongoing campaign is aimed at forcing the Samburu to abandon their way life.
The documents are said to explicitly mention the intent to “bring these people into the modern era” and show that the attacks, including the one just described, were planned months in advance.
Africa, where land has been characterised as being plentiful and cheap, is becoming the new breadbasket for developing countries.
As a result, millions of people in Africa continue to suffer from famine, food shortages, violent evictions, dwindling water supplies, displacement and disruption to their livelihood while those who purchased land enjoy producing and exporting food to feed their own populations.