Tanzania family that was banished 21 years ago, living as outcasts in Nandi Central
Written by Shillah Mwadosho
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Samuel Kipsang, the Chairman for the Tanzania family (grey clothes), Suzan Cheptabut the only parent who has survived in the family after the others were reported to have died of hunger and sickness standing together with part of the family who claim to be citizens of Kenya, but were banished from Tanzania. Photos I Shillah Mwadosho
As you draw closer to Sirwa yalla village on a one acre piece of land that 16 families have been living for the last 21 years in Nandi Central District just right from the gate you are welcome by the strong smell of alcohol.
This has been the kind of life the “Tanzania family” like they call themselves has been living in as brewing of chang’aa is the only way of survival that they raise money to sustain them from hunger accompanied by harsh economic problems they are encountering.
Mr. Samuel Kipsang who speaks on behalf narrates to West FM the kind of life they have been leading since 1991 when they were sent away from the neighboring country Tanzania where their parents settled after they left Kenya.
He says “we were ambushed by the police where we lived in Mugumo district and forced to board a vehicle where we were transported to Isbania and later brought to Kapsabet to the DC’s place and finally we were offered this piece of land by the county council.”
He says that the 16 families were not allowed to pick any of their belonging; their animals were taken from them claiming that whatever they invested in that land remains a property of Tanzania.
He has been forced to take care of his three children after his wife ran away due to poverty, his father fainted and later died immediately he arrived and learned that they were to come back to Kenya minus everything they had invested.
“We have been arrested severally by police officers due to chang’aa brewing since we arrived but there is no way we can survive without it.”
In their small muddy and grass thatched houses (above) life seems so unbearable he says, as there is no hope of three meals a day, “We only have hope of having dinner after selling of chang’aa during the day, breakfast and lunch comes only from money that our young men that we have are paid after working in peoples farms.”
With the family that has been multiplying during the years their girls have been married off at a tender age hopping to get bride price but sooner or later they are chased out of their matrimonial homes by in-laws with children once they learn more about their background.
They have nowhere else to go to except to the 1 acre piece of land with their children, but right now nearly all of them are in major towns practicing prostitution same to the young men who vanish too and its not clear of what they are doing.
“It’s not easy to be offered a job even that of cultivating land once they learn of our background and with this kind of discrimination we get yet we have our Kenyan identity cards it becomes even harder to survive,” Kipsang laments.
The countless trips they have made to the county council office and DC’s office to be settled has bore no fruits instead they claim that they have been harassed and sent away.
Samuel Kipsang and Suzan Cheptabut who together house 16 families in the one acre piece of land in Nandi county as they wait for help fromthe government.
Kipsang, and some two ladies Priscilla and Melab have composed 8 songs that they thought would help them raise funds to improve their living standards but that did not succeed as they have no money to record especially after Melab was involved in a terrible road accident that cost her a lot and later travelled to Mombasa to seek help and find another way to live.
However, when we contacted the DC for Nandi central district Mr. Ahmed Abdullahi on a comment on the cries of the “Tanzania family” he said that initially it has been difficult to settle them due to a few complications that emerge.
“We are not sure of their exact number as at times its exaggerated and the truth of the matter is still unclear,” he said adding that he will be holding a meeting with necessary parties including area mp for Emgwen Elijah Lagat constituency on the way forward.
For now, the 16 families will still have to share the land and continue living a day at a time until their prayers are answered.