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Monthly Archives: August 2013

“Pastoralist School Girl” Who Beads Bracelets for Her Fees,

Schools reopen for third term in a week’s time and most parents are still struggling to raise school fees. Many student worry that their parents will fail to raise the required amount. Being sent home in the middle of the term, thereby missing classes is something that haunts many students.
However, this is not the case for one Agnes Netaya Kimpuk from Enoosaen village in Transmara District, Narok County. Her single parent has never raised her school fees. Netaya, a 17-year-old Form Two student at Oyugi Okango Secondary School in Migori County, has been beading bracelets and selling them in the US through a programme called Seed to Sew, to raise her fees since her father forsook her for refusing to be circumcised in 2009.
Polygamous family
“I had sat for my KCPE examination in 2009 and as I awaited the results, my father organized, without my consent, that my younger twin sisters and I be circumcised,” says Netaya, a second born child to a second wife in a polygamous family of 15.
She says her father had wanted her circumcised while in Class Six but she pleaded with him to allow her complete her primary education. Her twin sisters were circumcised but she said no to the cut. Her father was so mad at her that he stopped talking to her.
When the results were out, she was admitted to Enoosaen Girls but her father refused to pay for her school fees saying he would have nothing to do with her. “I lost hope of ever going to school after I missed my Form One vacancy. I began whiling time away at the local market. I was wasting away fast that my former primary school head teacher John Kararan asked me to go back to school but I refused,” she says. She finally agreed to go back to her primary school in term two, but as fate would have it, the class was full and she had to enroll in Class Seven.
In April 2011, an Advocacy Project Peace Fellow from the USA, Charlotte Bourdillon, was placed at the Kakenya Centre for Excellence and she undertook a project to profile people around the Enoosaen community, who were making waves in one way or another in the fight against FGM and early marriages. Netaya was one such person who fitted the profile: bright and ambitious about her education, but shackled by tradition and a family that did not support her desire to continue her education.
Netaya gave Bourdillon a beaded bracelet as a gift for listening to her story. Back in the US, Bourdillon’s friends asked her to order more bracelets. Soon Netaya was making thousands of shillings through her beading skills. “Bourdillon gave me a loan of Sh5, 000 which I used to purchase beads, razor blades and thread. I made 24 bracelets which earned me Sh33, 000,” says Netaya.
By the time she completed Class Eight, she had made over 60 bracelets. Last April, she made 50 bracelets which earned her Sh23, 400 and by the time the teachers’ strike ended she had completed an order for 58 bracelets. “I know I will make more money from the 58 that I just sent to the US because they were a special order. Such orders normally fetch more money,” she reveals. On Netaya’s bracelets, messages of peace, love, hard work and anti-FGM are weaved so as to influence others.
Her fears
She is thankful to all those who have supported her saying she was fearful ending up in an early marriage or even as a prostitute. “We have mended fences with my father. I have no grudge against him and I am happy that he now understands why a girl should be educated,” says Netaya, who wants the Maasai to abandon retrogressive cultural practices.
Now many other girls who need a way to pay for school fees are beading wristbands and necklaces in the traditional Maasai style that are sold through Enkisoma Beads of Hope, a programme that has been initiated by Netaya. (Enkisoma means education in the Maasai language).

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2013 in News briefs

 

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Marginalized Groups Voice Concerns In Ministry Report:

Survey singles out 22 ethnic groupings discriminated against based on healthcare provision, education and poverty levels
The Ministry of Health has identified and classified 22 of 42 communities as the most discriminated against and marginalized ethnic groupings majority of whom are in areas around the greater Nakuru, Lamu, Marakwet and Mandera regions.
The groups are characterized by low levels of education, lack of formal employment, poor access to health care and lack of representation in political structures. “Communities with higher population of educated members have dominated over the 22 who feel inferior and refer to themselves as ‘jamii duni wenye wamejitenga’ to mean discriminated communities that live in isolation,” says a new report by the Ministry of Health.
Seeking empathy
To reach these groups with preferential health care services, the ministry is considering the implementation of a special programme called Vulnerable and Marginalized Peoples Plans.
In a study to find out how many such groups are indeed marginalized in health services, the ministry surveyed 13 of them and in some cases found most did not have even a single medical worker employed in the public service where they live.
For instance, among the Sengwer community, in the Kabolet Forest in Cherenganyi hills, there was only one young woman who was trained as a social worker and engaged as a casual at the Kapsara hospital.
“Her presence in the hospital has helped to attract the Sengwer to the hospital because they feel one of their own is working in the hospital and can empathize with their health problems,” says the report prepared by the Multi-face Research and Development Centre of Kisumu for the ministry.
Most of the communities have few health facilities and even fewer workers meaning they cannot get services when they need them. “At the Ogiek Nessuit dispensary, for example, the only health worker can be away for a period extending over two months.”
The report says almost all of the educated people in such communities have left for urban centres and do not participate in the communities’ affairs. But some had very few educated individuals. Among the Munyoyaya of Tana River, there was only one person who had graduated from the university.
This lack of education has denied these communities the opportunity of applying for communal projects such as the Total War Against Aids (Towa), which funds HIV programmes at the grassroots.
Writing proposals
In most cases the communities have never heard of such programmes and the few who have cannot write the required proposals. “A few who have approached skilled people for assistance in this area have not been able to raise the Sh5, 000 or more demanded by those writing the proposals on their behalf,” says the report.
Also, most of the communities were found to be living far from medical facilities. The Il Chamus spend an average of Sh600 on transport to take a pregnant women to deliver at Marigat District Hospital while the Waata community in Madogo of Tana River spends an average Sh2, 000 on transport hire to take their sick to the provincial hospital in Garissa.
Some cultural beliefs were also found to be keeping these communities away from modern medicines such as among the Ngikebotook in Turkana South where a traditional spear must be used to cut the umbilical cord of a baby boy.
At the Katilu Health Centre, where the community would get health services, was a maternity wing which had beds but no patients. The community also does not take their women to the hospital for child deliveries where the services are done by men.
Land factor
But it is family planning services that are loathed most in this region because most residents still believe in siring many children to “fill their land to counter domination by bigger communities”.
“Are we being asked to practice family planning so that other communities can come and occupy our land? We do not want to be continually referred to as minorities,” an Ogiek elder had told the study team.
The draft report which was finalized in March and recently published by the ministry does not indicate whether the proposed plans to reach the communities will be carried out by the national or county governments.

source standardnewspaper
13/08/2013

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2013 in News briefs

 

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Manifestos Have Ignored Local Cultural Knowledge:

As political parties go full throttle to seek Kenyans’ mandate to govern during the March 4 General Election, indigenous peoples have a raft of issues that remain largely unresolved.
One of their main concerns is the extent to which the political parties and alliances have sought to address the question of their cultural expressions and industry within the political parties’ manifestoes.
Most of the various manifestoes have focused on infrastructure, industrial development and job creation. While attempts have been made to address the nagging land question which is central to indigenous people’s culture and industry, nothing has been said about how the implementation of article 11 of the Constitution.
This specifically deals with protection and promotion of cultural expressions, indigenous knowledge and compensation or royalties to communities for the use of their cultures and cultural heritage.
For more than 100 years, indigenous communities’ cultures have been commercialised for monetary gain on the one hand and ridiculed on the other. Indeed, Kenya has been unable to develop a national dress.
On the other hand, tourism; which is the second most important source of foreign exchange relies heavily on indigenous people’s cultural expression to depict Kenya as a culturally resilient destination. In addition, indigenous people’s culturally conserved rangelands form the bedrock of wildlife sanctuaries with more than 90 per cent of game reserves and national parks strewn across their territories.
It is notable that indigenous people’s culture has ensured the survival of wildlife and serene landscapes that have continued to earn this country a bounty as well projecting it as a conservation hub of the region and indeed the world.
The annual wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve has been declared one of the seven wonders of the world, thanks to culture and livelihood systems that do not view wildlife as consumables, but rather as assets that play a key role in maintaining the delicate balance of nature.
With all these contributions by indigenous peoples to wealth creation and development in Kenya, these custodians of national heritage have barely anything to show for the duration that tourism has thrived in Kenya.
While political parties have highlighted myriad ways of reducing poverty and creating opportunities, the culture component is largely lacking. This reality confirms the need for the implementation of article 11 of the Constitution and generation of sound policies on culture.

By Michael S. Tiampati

Posted Monday, February 11 2013 at 18:04

Businessdaily

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2013 in News briefs

 

TO AVERT POTENTIAL FLARE UPS, STATE AND COUNTY GOVERNMENTS MUST SAFEGUARD COMMUNITY LAND RIGHTS:

Even with the enactment of the a new constitution with specific safeguards for community land rights, recent developments in Narok, Laikipia, Turkana and other pastoralist areas where most of the land falls under the community land category spell doubts are emerging on the constitutional potency in protecting and promoting these common rights.
Driven by the need for infrastructural development, harnessing green energy such as solar, geothermal and wind as well as other extractives such as mining and large scale irrigation, the perception is that community lands are lying idle and open for “productive” use without regard to the rights of the communities’ resident on the said lands.
Community land shall vest in and be held by communities identified on the basis of ethnicity, culture or similar community of interest…so states article 63 of the Constitution of Kenya. The same article further elucidates that these lands consist of lands lawfully held, managed, or used by communities as community forests, grazing areas and shrines, trust lands as well as ancestral lands and those traditionally occupied by hunter gatherers.
This means that these communities have inherent entitlements to the lands and territories that they have historically occupied and upon which they perform their cultural rites in addition to practicing their livelihood systems that range from pastoralism, hunting and gathering, fishing and small scale farming among others.
Historically, these communities have suffered numerous dispossessions from the turn of last century with the advent of colonialism that was heralded by the 1885 Berlin Conference. In addition, the same communities have continued to lose their lands to state, unscrupulous individuals, institutions and corporates.
A cursory look at the report of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) demonstrate only too well the extent of disenfranchisement of communities from the Coast, Central, North Eastern, Eastern, Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza.
The report implicates highly placed individuals and institutions and underpins the suffering and bitterness that communities harbor following the blatant takeovers of their lands and territories and lack of restitution for close to a century.
It is also on record that communities in Kenya started the clamour for the return of their lands and territories as early as 1912-13 a case in point being the famous 1913 Ole Nchoko and others case that sought the nullification of the 1911 Anglo Maasai Treaty. As recently as 2010 the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) ruled in favour of the Endorois Community in Baringo that challenged the state takeover of their lands and territories around Lake Bogoria.
With the communal century long pent up anger and frustration and continued blatant violation and strong arm tactics, Kenya could be setting itself up for flare ups of monumental proportions should the state, county governments and the National Land Commission not move fast and demonstrate that all the constitutional and legal safeguards to community land rights are enforced and those transgressing on these entitlements are dealt with and justice served. The National Peace Policy must also fully integrate the aspect of community land related conflict resolution and peace building mechanisms as enshrined in article 60(g) of the constitution.

Santeto Ole Tiampati
Pastoralist Development Network of Kenya

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in News briefs

 

“Common Clans” Volatile Border Fuel Cattle Rustling

Dilapidated roads and lack of vehicles have been blamed for crippling security operations in Trans Mara District. Despite the challenges, some Provincial Administration officers say they are making progress in the war against cattle rustling.
Trans Mara West DC Abdihakim Jubat said security agents have managed to kill top bandits commanders in the area. He said there are plans for a cross-border strategy involving security officers from Tanzania to stem the menace. “We are working with Tanzania to set up a joint border security commission to oversee security between the two countries,” Mr Jubat says. A police constable admitted that fighting cattle rustling in the volatile border area is a big challenge.
Locals claim corruption among security officers and local administrators has also affected the war against cattle rustling. They accused some area chiefs of aiding cartels in the illegal trade by doctoring information relayed to the Government.
“There are chiefs who are under the payroll of some of these unscrupulous cattle traders,” said a border peace committee member, who sought anonymity. “Whenever raids are carried out in their areas of jurisdiction, they either fail to report to their bosses or give the wrong information.”
The official hopes devolution will end the menace, as county governments will have a better picture of what is going on. A local chief blamed lack of proper information on the raids on challenges they face in their work, and denied claims they are compromised by bandits. He said security personnel are given risk allowance while chiefs are left out yet they are exposed to the same volatile environment. “It beats logic that some of us who are supposed to report, investigate and even pursue any stolen animal have no allowance attached to our salary,” says the chief, sought anonymity for fear of victimization. “In fact, the Government should consider giving us firearms if we are to be more effective in our work. How do you expect me to follow bandits with a stick?”
The chief complained that they have constantly become targets of the bandits, who perceive them as a hindrance to the illegal trade. “The masters of this illegal business have on several occasions warned us of dire consequences if we report them to the Government,” says the chief. Insiders familiar with the trade say most of the stolen animals are taken to Nairobi, where they are sold to different abattoirs.
Animals even end up at different markets in Tanzania and in the Middle East. Several tanneries in Nairobi also benefit from the stolen stock by turning their hides into shoes, handbags and other leather products.
Meat-packaging companies ship the cattle either alive or as canned beef to Somalia and the Persian Gulf. Animals that are weak and unhealthy are sold to local abattoirs at throwaway prices.
Animosity among local communities has made cattle rustling to thrive. None risks crossing over into “enemy territory” in pursuit of stolen animals. There have been claims that many killings during cattle raids are intended to keep this animosity alive and protect the trade.
Sell meat
Mr James Chacha, a campaigner against cattle rustling from Mashangwa in Trans Mara, said traders keen on making quick profit sell meat from stolen animals at discounted rates. A spot-check in several butcheries shows that the prices of meat in areas such as Ntimaru, Kegonga, Tarime and Jerusalem along the Angatta Barrikoi-Tanzania border rise and fall depending on the source of the slaughtered animals. “There are places where you can buy a kilogram of meat for Sh200, almost half the normal price,” says Mr Chacha.
Tarime DC John Henjewele, said guns from refugee camps along the Tanzania-Rwanda-Burundi borders make their way into Trans Mara and have been blamed for fuelling the crime. The weapons are easily obtained from refugees and rebels in exchange of foodstuffs.
Mr Henjewele said the Tanzanian government recently tried to forcefully deport refugees from camps after they discovered that they were safe haven for the illegal firearms, but the United Nations High Commission for Refugees resisted the move.
The administrator said rebels in parts of Tanzania were the major suppliers of guns and ammunition in the region. He said the cattle rustlers also supply the guns from the warlords. “Some of the rebels train those purchasing the guns on how to use them,” said Henjewele.
The presence of the Kuria community in Kenya and Tanzania has complicated efforts to end cattle raids. Henjewele said gangs from one clan in Kenya plot with fellow criminals in Tanzania.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in latest news

 

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NARRASHA EVICTIONS: BACK TO THE DARK AGES:

The fact that inhumane acts could be sanctioned and executed on the basis of a so called court order and destruction of property and disruption of livelihoods and lives of villagers at Narasha – Olkaria under the watchful eye of the police is demonstration to the fact that Kenya is still in the stranglehold of tyranny even as we celebrate a new era of constitutionalism.
The 33-year-old land struggle in the area is testimony to the fact that the resident pastoralist community is peace loving and devoted to lawful processes of dispute resolution. That the community forms one of the key victims of the century long land and natural resources alienation is indisputable and any plans for development or otherwise must be informed by the fact that most of the land around the area is claimed by these communities as part of historical injustices.
Pursuant to this ugly incidence, most pastoralists have a bad taste at the back of their mouths as they witness their mothers, children and elderly spent nights out in the cold just because an individual or a group of individuals and indeed even government has interests on the land that these residents are settled on.
The Kenyan constitution is explicit on the rights and fundamental entitlements of individuals and groups. These range from protection of right to property, women, children under the Bill of rights of the 2010 Kenyan constitution.
The police on the other hand have the responsibility to safeguard the lives and property of Kenyans and not to be complicit in acts that violate these fundamental constitutional entitlements
Whereas Kenyans are optimistic of a constitutional order and decent society, the reality indicates that we are still groping into the dark ages which portend a dangerous trajectory for this country.
The victims are awaiting justice and this cannot be wished away or delayed; heads must roll now.

Santeto Ole Tiampati

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in News briefs