Kenya Hunter-Gatherers Win Long-Term Battle Against Government

Kenyan hunter-gatherers won a more than eight-year court battle against the plan of local government to throw them out from their inherited land in the Mau Forest.

The matter is that the Ogiek were allowed to continue live on their inherited lands. The government must never try to make them leave. It was decided by an African court. It is one of the most prominent victories for all aboriginal communities.

As Tuko News informs, the government argued that the hunter-gatherers should have been evicted to care for the indigenous forest. The African Court on Human and People’s Rights, however, decided that the government had severely dishonored plenty of rights of the Ogiek people. These are and the right to develop their culture in the western Kenya forests and the right to property.

The position of the government was as the following. According to Justice Augustino Ramadhani, numerous settlements by not-Ogiek people and “ill-advised” logging concessions had caused the severe environmental degradation in the Mau Forest.

These are over 35, 000 traditional hunters living in the forest in 210 km from Nairobi. Minority Rights Group International declared that these people were one of the last forest-dwelling communities. They were also included in the list of the most marginalized aboriginal peoples in Kenya.

96-year-old Rashamba Debola, a community member, confessed that she had been living in the forest for as long as life endures. She had never been anywhere else. “I grew up and got married here. I buried my husband in the forest, and I cannot live without forests. And I want my grand-grand-children to keep on developing at this place.

According to Amnesty International report, the hunter-gatherers had been fighting for their victory for a couple of years already. It is a historical even for the Ogiek community, which gives hope to all indigenous peoples of Africa.

Whether or not the Kenyan government will respect this decision, the Ogiek people are euphoric.

However, the Tanzania Court cannot sanction countries for disobedience. The Mau Forest covers the territory of over 273,310 hectares. It is the biggest forest of home-grown trees in East Africa.

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