Activist Al Amin Kimathi has led thousands of members of the
minority Sengwer Community who live in a forest in Elgeyo Marakwet
in a peaceful walk in Kitale, on their way to Nairobi, intending to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House.
The community, which was staying in Embobut forest was evicted by the government, citing forest conservation purposes. The move hasn’t gone down well with them. Clad in traditional regalia, the community members sang songs of desperation, demanding recognition based on the recent and past census reports which recorded their population stands at more than 50,000.
According to Kimathi, the community shouldn’t have been evicted from Embobut forest. The Community’s secretary general Elias Kimayo, who is their representative, said they’ve resolved to walk to Nairobi to seek the President’s intervention in order to get land allocation in the forest, which they’ve called home for a long period of time.
Kimaiyo faulted security officers for harassing members of the Sengwer
community whose rights of gainful employment, school bursaries and
land ownership have been denied. He accused successive governments for compensating other communities evicted from Embobut forest, each evicted dweller receiving Kshs 400,000 back in 2014.
He said as part of the walk, they’ll b making several stops along major towns before the penultimate stop at State House, Nairobi. The youth leader Brenda Cheboi complained that the youths have been marginalized, and haven’t been considered for County and national government jobs. She added that leaders haven’t been elected from the community, owing to its small population. Community elder David Rotich said the Sengwer had conserved the Embobut forest because it’s been their ancestral home for more than a century.