PRESS STATEMENT BY RAILA ODINGA:
JUBILEE MUST COMPENSATE THE MAASAI FOR THEIR CATTLE:
November 4, 2017.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
I am aware that there are a number of pressing national issues about which many of you expect me to address at a gathering like this.
I am aware that that the National Resistance Movement of NASA yesterday launched an initiative that causing ripples across the landscape and some of you would be keen to hear my views.
I promise that you will get my views on this matter very soon, probably before the start of next week.
This evening, I beg you to hear me out on a matter that has little to do with the NRM initiative but which, all the same, has great bearing on our existence as one nation that respects and includes all our communities and their diverse livelihoods.
Inclusion, rather than exclusion, is at the heart of our policies as NASA. The issue on my mind today is the continued subjugation of the Maasai and other pastoral communities in our country.
Two days ago, the Maasai Community in Laikipia County experienced what last happened only to their ancestors in Colonial Kenya.
Estimates indicate that the Maa community of Laikipia had at least 300 heads of their cattle shot dead and tens of hundreds wounded by Kenya Police on grounds that the herders had ventured into private ranches in search of pastures.
This sad incident came against the backdrop of a severe drought that had seen the pastoralist community in the region lose thousands of goat, sheep and cattle.
Of course the whole world knows what livestock means to the Maa community in particular and pastoralists in general. That single emaciated cow, goat or sheep that means nothing to none-pastoralists communities in Kenya is the equivalent to a matatu, rental or commercial house, a bus or a plot of land that other communities value as source of survival.
To the Maa and all other pastoral communities, the cow, the goat, the sheep or camel, taken for granted and viewed as a nuisance by other communities, is the equivalent of a university degree that all other Kenyans do everything to attain.
Shooting dead those animals is the equivalent to burning or cutting down of coffee or tea plantations in central Kenya and the Rift Valley or setting a flame to acres of sugar cane plantations in Western Kenya and Nyanza and sinking hundreds of fishing boats in Nyanza, Turkana and the Coast. It amounts to economic immobilization of the pastoral communities. Nature and our creator blessed different parts of this country with different sources of economic sustenance.
The cow, the goat, the sheep, the camel, mean the difference between poverty and prosperity among the pastoral communities. To destroy them is to show contempt and utter disregard for these communities. It is cynical, immoral, heartless and outrightly unacceptable.
For the Maa of Samburu to have over 300 of their herds of cattle slaughtered not by some foreign invading force or the foreign settlers and ranchers that we occasionally blame for such misfortunes but by members of the Kenya Police Service, is as callous as a regime can be.
It is the most open display of impunity and utter disregard for the livelihoods and survival of long marginalized communities. It is the greatest manifestation of the disconnect that exists between our citizens, their aspirations and the National Government that ideally should be working in the interests of all citizens.
The last time this kind of insensitivity happened to the Maasai community was in the 1900s, when British colonial authorities with interests in the Laikipia Plains confiscated at least 5,000 herds of cattle and burnt more than 5,000 huts and grain stores to make Maasai give space. Strangely, the colonialists knew what the cattle meant to the Maasai. They confiscated the cattle rather than kill them. Kenya Police on the other hand killed the cattle in a show of utter contempt of the community’s way of life.
For that kind of callousness to be applied in independent Kenya, by police paid and sustained by tax-payers is a manifestation of a deep seated problem that must be addressed once and for all.
We therefore demand that President Uhuru Kenyatta pay the herdsmen at prevailing market rates for their livestock that were killed by police three days ago.
We also demand that the government provides the pastoralists with permanent means of sustaining their livestock during drought, including controlled access to the ranches that may have water and pasture during moments of drought.
The criminalization of pastoralism as a way of life must stop. This country must accept that it has pastoralists, farmers and other economic groupings and that together, all the groupings contribute to the economic well-being of the nation. No single economic activity must be viewed to be superior to the other.
We also demand a clear policy for co-existence between the ranchers and the pastoralists from whom the lands were taken. Nobody must be condemned to inferior livelihood and criminalized for their chosen way of progressing economically.
Uhuru Kenyatta must assure Kenyans that this country belongs to all communities that found themselves within its borders or that it belongs to only a few and the rest can take a walk.
It is time the government brought to a stop the years of marginalization and criminalization of the Maasai and other pastoral communities.
It is wrong and criminal that these communities are seen merely as voting machines to support the political agenda of rival communities and economic groupings. The Maasai deserve protection and respect like all other Kenyans.
They deserve that assurance from the government.