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Kenya farm invasions continue


The latest farm to be invaded in Laikipia is Jennings, outside Rumuruti on the way to Kifuku, opposite the farm of Senator GG Kariuki.

Armed herdsmen on Sunday invaded the farm of Will Jennings, a mixed race Kenyan, even though the Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) was nearby. There was shooting but Jennings was not injured, contrary to initial

In July his neighbour, farmer George Mwai, was shot twice while driving home and is now in a wheelchair.

Multiple farms have been invaded in Laikipia in the last two months, including the Loisaba conservancy established to benefit surrounding communities through conservation and the 50,000-acre Segera ranchowned by Jochen Zeitz, former CEO of global sports brand Puma. The Tasia community Maasai ranch has also been disrupted.

In Samburu itself in early November, their own conservancy of Sera, where black rhino are protected, was invaded.

Donors have just cancelled a multi-million dollar conservation project because of the crisis.

Small farmers have suffered as much as large ones. Sheep and goats have been stolen, crops trampled by cattle and ten people killed. The Red Cross is assisting displaced people in Rumuruti.

An estimated 125,000 cattle have invaded Laikipia from Samburu and other counties. It is not locals who are invading farms and ranches ­it is outsiders.

Traditionally pastoralist families had small herds. Now ‘big men’, politicians and corrupt officials have huge herds with several thousand head but they do not own sufficient land to graze the cattle. They use their relatives as herdsmen. This is the root of the problem.

The Œbigmen hide their ill-gotten wealth in cattle, which is invisible to the KRA and anti-corruption authorities. They are now trying to grab land in Laikipia to keep their cattle.

An MP, who is one of the Œbig men, allegedly has 3,000 among the invading cattle.

Historically Laikipia has been one of the most diverse areas in Kenya with the Turkana, Pokot, Kikuyu, Maasai and Samburu living peacefully side by side.

A Cabinet minute in October gave clear instructions that farm invasions would not be tolerated. However, the Cabinet order is largely being ignored on the ground.

A security meeting in Rumuruti on November 9 was chaired by Francis ole Kaparo, chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, and around 400 RDU were deployed afterwards.

However, this number is probably inadequate when there are thousands of armed outsiders invading Laikipia.

The violence hitting Laikipia is a political land grab by militant Samburu politicians against all other ethnic groups ahead of the 2017 polls. They are using vast numbers of cattle as a weapon to invade land, hoping to drive out the rightful owners and voters for other parties, said one Nanyuki resident.

The majority of victims are small holders and poor people. Their maize patches invaded, their handfuls of goats stolen, guns threatening people everywhere.This is impunity, he said.

It is a myth that this is about ‘poor pastoralists’ who just need grass in a ‘drought’. The truth is that the majority of the cattle are owned by MPs, administration officials, top cops and other rich barons who hide their money in cattle which elude KRA taxes.”

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