Kenya’s Maasai People’s Fight For Land Rights Is Just
The International Indigenous People’s Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (International IPMSDL) unites with the Maasai Indigenous Peoples of Kenya and their allies and advocates in condemning the recent and longstanding attacks on the Maasai people’s right to their ancestral lands in Kitet community.
We condemn Kedong Ranch Limited, among whose stakeholders are relatives of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, for carrying out these attacks and we are calling on the Kenyan High Court and Kenyan government to take the side of the Maasai against the corporation.
Kedong Ranch Limited has acquired lease to 75,000 acres of Maasai land since the 1970s without the Indigenous People’s Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), mandated by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and international law.
In recent years, the company has been digging deep trenches in the land, which endanger the livelihood and culture of the Maasai, a pastoralist people. The trenches have caused the death of a nine-year old Maasai girl in 2020. They have also caused the death of Maasai livestock, precious to the people’s livelihood and way of life.
In response to their opposition to the digging of trenches, five members of the Maasai community have been arrested and charged by the police, one was beaten heavily. While they were released on bail, the cases against them are ongoing.
These are on top of other violations of the Maasai’s right to their ancestral lands. Involved in these violations are the creation of the Olkaria IV and V geothermal plants and of a 1,000-acre dry port. There is also the allotment of 1,000-acre of lands each to Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan for the construction of dry ports. In all of these, the Maasai are again being denied the right to FPIC to the use of their lands.
As is often the case with corporations trying to steal indigenous lands, Kedong Ranch Limited has sought to divide the Maasai community, take advantage of their lack of knowledge about recent laws, and bribe sections of the community to make their robbery appear legitimate. The legality of its moves has been immediately put into question by the community.
In order to assert their right to their ancestral lands, the Maasai have filed cases against Kedong Ranch Limited and government agencies. The Maasai demand recognition of their collective land rights and the invalidation of the lease acquired by Kedong Ranch Limited. Through all these, the threats and harassments against the Maasai people have continued.
The IPMSDL condemns all these violations of the Maasai people’s right to their ancestral domains in Kitet community. The IPMSDL supports the Maasai people’s immediate and long-term demands in their fight for their land rights. Land is life, community, identity, and survival for the Indigenous Peoples of the world.
The IPMSDL is calling on its member-organizations and other organizations of Indigenous Peoples to express solidarity with the Maasai people. The Maasai people are not alone; the fights of the Indigenous Peoples of the world for their ancestral lands are interconnected. We are all fighting the theft of our lands by big local and monopoly capitalists often in cahoots with political elites in government who use the police, the military and the courts against Indigenous Peoples.
The IPMSDL supports the IP struggle against zombie neoliberalism that continues to wreak havoc on, and pose dangers to, the lives of IP even amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.