#BendaburuAlert ......On Saturday, [10 August 2019] President Kenyatta administration gifted 12 Kikuyu "traditional spiritual" Elders 100 Acres of Mt
#BendaburuAlert ……On Saturday, [10 August 2019] President Kenyatta administration gifted 12 Kikuyu “traditional spiritual” Elders 100 Acres of Mt Kenya Forest.
A ceremony presided over by Environment Cabinet Secretary (CS) Keriako Tobiko, the 100 Acres in Mt Kenya Forest, was cited as a “gift” to the “traditional spiritual elders“ – a Kikuyu Shrine.
Did this gifting of the land go through the laid down law process? Is such a gesture a precedent of other such alienations bearing in mind that our country with its 43 plus tribes all subscribe to different religious beliefs and practices? Was this whole process a distinct allegiance reward or an outright show of might by a “particular” ethnicity?
Is this another Round of Abuse of Presidential Discretion – After the Kenyatta / Moi Regime
After the enactment of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, several other legislation have come into effect to help the regulation and use of land; both public and private. The constitution will be 10 years old, next year, during which we have witnessed so much disregard and contempt of law .
The Constitution at Article 61 classifies land in private, community and public. Article 62 (g) defines public land as including…government forests to which ………..government game reserves, water catchment areas, national park, government animal sanctuaries, and specially protected areas. The Mount Kenya forest falls within this classification of public land.
The National Land Commission at Article 8 of the Constitution is mandated with the role of managing public land on behalf of both national and county governments. Public land can be converted and allocated to either a community or private by alienation. According to Legal notice no 284 of 2017 regulations are laid down on the requirements that a group needs to have to be considered for allocation of public land.
The Land Allocation of Public Land regulations 2017 at section 3 spells out the methods of allocation of public land and one of them is by application confined to a targeted group of persons or groups. This is done upon REQUEST by the national government or county government. The section further provides at Section 3(2) that in determining the method of allocation, the National Land Commission will take into consideration all prevailing circumstances including the purpose for the allocation. This begs the question, does the use as a traditional shrine amount to a strong reason to alienate land?
Part III of the regulations on allocation of public land deals with allocation to targeted group of persons. The word targeted group is not defined per se but from the provisions it refers to a disadvantaged group of persons. At Section (1) of the Regulations, it states that,
Where the national or county government is satisfied that it is necessary to allocate land to a targeted group in order to ameliorate the group’s disadvantaged position pursuant to section 12(1)b of the Land Act, the national government and county government shall, after giving notice in accordance with section 14 of the Land Act, vet the targeted group to ascertain the nature of the groups disadvantaged position.
The property in question was presented as a “shrine gift” in Mt Kenya Forest, by the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment to the “traditional spiritual elders“ of one community – the Kikuyu -, in a country of 43 communities.
This spiritual group of elders does not in any way fall under the provided consideration of disadvantaged groups as set out at section 9(2) of the Regulations 2017. I am also not privy to a report as stated at section 9(3) which expressly provides that the national or county government shall prepare a report on the disadvantaged nature of the group and recommend allocation of the identified land to ameliorate the groups disadvantaged position.
We have so many groups of disadvantaged persons some of who live in forests illegally because neither the national nor county governments have identified them and recommended their resettlement or recognized their existence in forests.
Under the Constitution, Article 11 talks about recognition of culture as the foundation of the nation and as the cumulative civilization of the Kenyan people and nation. The Article does not in any way allude to creation of cultural “sites” or direct promotion of cultural belief or practice by the state. The act of hiving off a national resource-in this case a Forest and giving it to one community amounts to not only abuse of office, but also discrimination to other communities that cannot have access to the same . Article 27(4) of the Constitution talks about the state not discriminating against any person directly or indirectly on the grounds among many including……..ethnic or social origin,religion,,belief,culture…etc . The contentious question is whether other communities that live near forests can also be bequeathed forest land to use as shrines or is it only a preserve of one community whose values and practices need to be recognized and preserved.
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