The Native`s plightThe Ogiek
Indigenous peoples have lost forest land to logging and clearing for agriculture, while in
recent years also facing prohibitions on hunting, in the name of
wildlife preservation. In 2005, Kenyan police burned down some Ogiek
settlements in the Mau forest, and the government has failed to
provide hunter-gatherers with even rudimentary services, such as
access to healthcare. Hunter-gatherer peoples have almost no
political representation in Kenya. Throughout 2007, the Ogiek found
themselves caught up in the conflict around Mount Elgon in Western
Kenya, as rival Sabaot sub-clans fought for control of the land in
the area. The shadowy SLDF miltia reportedly attacked the Ogiek
living around Mount Elgon. Ogiek activists reported that about 20 had
been killed. Attacks accelerated after the disputed 2007 elections,
when violence gripped the country, with militias taking advantage of
the disorder to grab land and resources. Ogiek took refuge in the
forests of Chepkitale, and found it hard to venture out, suffering
food shortages. Ogiek families were displaced and 11 houses were
destroyed in the hills close to Lake Nakuru. Ogiek homeless were
given shelter by their extended family members – Ogiek cultural
traditions mean that they help each other out in times of hardship.
But unlike Kenyans, who fled to IDP camps, they have not received any
official help – leaving many facing months of hardship.
Hunter-gatherer groups were disappointed when the
new power-sharing government also failed in their demand to be
nominated to a ‘special interest’ seat. In the run-up to the 2007
vote, the Hunter-Gatherer Forum which represents the Ogiek, the
Yaaku, the Sengwer, the El Molo and the Awer, wrote letters to the
officials at the main political parties, telling them of the need for
nominated MPs. However, when the reserved seats where allocated, none
went to the hunter-gatherer communities. The Ogiek have, however,
been encouraged by the new attempts to get the ‘settler’
communities – which they claim have stolen their traditional
territory – expelled from the Mau forest. The destruction of this
precious woodland, cleared by loggers and small-scale farmers, has
led to serious depletion of a vital water catchment area.
The areas that they have been forced to settle as a result of colonization, is poor and a
The hardship endured by the Karamajong has
intensified in recent years. Like other cattle-herders in the East
African region, they have been at the sharp end of climate change.
More frequent cycles of drought have led to greater competition for
scarce resources; cattle-raiding has accelerated and this has been
accompanied by an upsurge of violence. The ready availability of
small arms in the region has led to deadly conflict, which has caused
hundreds of deaths over the past few years.
In an attempt to curb the violence, the Ugandan
government embarked upon a forced disarmament programme in Karamoja.
But the way in which the policy has been carried out has attracted
fierce criticism. In a stinging report issued in 2006, and followed
up in April 2007, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights (OHCHR) documented grave human rights violations carried out
by the national army, the Ugandan People´s Defence Forces. These
included extra-judicial killings of civilians, torture, inhuman and
degrading treatment, the rape of a woman, and the widespread
destruction of homesteads.
A 2002 UN report found that in comparatively
peaceful times, Bantu communities in the riverine areas were actually
better off than many Somalis, as their agricultural practices gave
them greater food security. However, Somali Bantus employed on
plantations worked in virtual slavery. Somali Bantu believe that
Somalia is more racist than South Africa during the apartheid era.
Bantu not afflited to specific clan families are particularly
vulnerable in times of severe fighting – because of their lack of
The somali Bantu communities continue to face
discrimination today. This includes verbal abuse by members of
minority clans: Bantu people are still sometimes referred to as
adoon, a Somali term for ‘slave’. Al-Shabaab has targeted Bantu
commnunities because of their religious and cultural practices, and
in January 2010 the National Somali Bantu Project (NSBP) reported
that several Bantu people were killed for attending a traditional
service in the Lower Juba region. The NSBP also reported the
desecration of Bantu graves and forced compliance of Bantu Sheikhs
with al-Shabaab doctrines, as well as numerous cultural attacks on
Bantu dancing, the use of traditional medicine and the imposition of
linguistic limitations including being forced to adopt Arabic names.
Al-Shabaab have also reportedly recruited Bantu children as young as
10 into their militia.
Like other minorities, Bantu people face renewed
discrimination in IDP camps, with numerous cases of rape of Bantu
women, who are not protected by traditional clan structure in the
Depopulation of Diego Garcia
The Diego Garcia depopulation controversy
pertains to the expulsion of the indigenous inhabitants of the island
of Diego Garcia and the other islands of the British indian ocean
territory (BIOT) by the united kingdom, beginning in 1968 and
concluding on 27 April 1973 with the evacuation of Peros Banhos
atoll.These people, known at the time as the Ilois;
are today known as Chagos Islanders or Chagossians.
Some Chagossians and human rights advocates have claimed that the
Chagossian right of occupation was violated by the British Foreign
Office as a result of the 1966 agreement between the British and
American governmnets to provide an unpopulated island for a U.S.
Military base, and that additional compensation and a right to return
Legal action to claim compensation and the right of abode in the Chagos
began in April 1973 when 280 islanders, represented by a Mauritian
attorney, petitioned the government of Mauritius to distribute the
£650,000 compensation provided in 1972 by the British government for
distribution by the Mauritian government (it was not distributed
until 1977).In October 1974, after receiving no assistance from the
Mauritian Government, a Mr. Saminaden and Mr. Michel Vincatassin
presented the British high commissioner to Mauritius with a petition
detailing the lack of support the islanders had received from the
Mauritian government, noting that 40 islanders had died since
arriving on Mauritius, and asking for the UK Government to work on
their behalf with the Mauritian Government, or to return the Ilois to
From this initial petitioning grew a series of presentations and lawsuits
culminating in the 27 March 1982 agreement among the British
Government, the Mauritian Government, and the Islanders (numbering
1,419 adults and 160 minors), which was intended to settle all
islander claims for the sum of £4 millions in cash from the British
Government and £1 million in land from the Mauritius Government.
Beginning in 1983, a new series of compensation claims were made against the
British Government by an Ilois group called the Chagos Refugee Group,
located on Mauritius. The founders and officers formed the core of
inhabitants who, beginning in 1999, brought three lawsuits to British
Courts - in 1999,2002, and 2006 - and one to an American Court in
2001, all requesting additional compensation and the right of abode
in the Chagos. The U.S. case and two of these three British cases
were defeated on appeal, the other was not appealed by the British
In 2005, these same litigants filed a brief with the European court of
human rights (ECHR), which was brought before that court in 2008
following the final defeat of the final British lawsuit before the
house of lords, and that case remains in litigation as of August
The British government has consistently denied any illegalities in the
expulsion. Even so, various officials (including the Foreign
Minister) have apologised to the Chagossians for long-ago
wrongdoing,while still disputing that the deportees have a right to
be repatriated at this time. On April 1, 2010, the British Cabinet
announced the creation of the world’s largest Marine protected area
(MPA) which consists of most of the Chagos Archipelago, homeland of
the Chagossians. The MPA will prohibit extractive industry of all
kinds, including commercial fishing and oil and gas exploration. Some
Chagossians have claimed that this MPA was created to prevent the
islanders from returning to the islands.The UK Government claims that
the restrictions of the MPA will be modified pending the decision of
On December 1, 2010, a leaked US Embassy London diplomatic cable exposed
British and US communications in creating the marine nature reserve.
The cable relays exchanges between US Political Counselor Richard
Mills and British Director of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Colin Roberts, in which Roberts "asserted that establishing a
marine park would, in effect, put paid to resettlement claims of the
archipelago’s former residents." Richard Mills concludes:
Establishing a marine reserve might, indeed, as the FCO’s Roberts stated, be the
most effective long-term way to prevent any of the Chagos Islands’
former inhabitants or their descendants from resettling in the
[British Indian Ocean Territory].
The history of this people (minority) is one of genocide, land
dispossession, virtual slavery on white and black owned farms, cultural
loss and prejudice.
Mr Jim morris, a San from ghanzi who was a
delegate (part of the B.N.F (Botswana national front) delegation of
1992) accused the Botswana government of sending hand picked delegates
to misinform the international gathering. "If the donors or delegates in
this conference want the truth of how the San live in Botswana, I
invite you all to visit the San communities and find out "he said.
Its our firm conviction that people should be able to determine how they
want to live. In Kenya claims by particular communities are often seen
as threats to the Kenyan nation, instead of opportunities to make all
groups feel included and to ensure that their needs are recognized.
Immediate action to address inequality and the marginalization of this
communities as the best way to avoid major conflicts. Proposed new
constitution does not address the issues concerning these communities.
It should devolve power away from the centre and measures taken to
ensure/guarantee minorities and indigenous peoples benefit. Equitability
from existing and future development programs. The deploration of
ethnicity in politics is pathetic and a total failure in itself. Hoping
that ethnicity will disappear is misguided and unrealistic, the
suppression and denial of ethnicity, political diversity leaves the
minority in poverty and adverse political marginalization, which leads
to inter-ethnic conflicts.
According to one political scholar inter-ethnic conflict in Kenya is
not imminent but remains a real risk in the medium to long term, always a slide
into conflict is always very difficult to stop once momentum has built up.
Preventative actions are too often begun only when conflict is looming. The
measures taken are always too little too late. Action must be taken early at a
time when conflict is still unlikely, inequality breed resentment and can
ultimately lead to violence. Action in Kenya’s
case must be taken now.
The Mission is using the Maasai as an Example of the threat posed to minority
ideals which are over ruled by the majority, without looking at the
contribution they make in our lives. We forget the reality of it all, that all
of us are minority, you alone can judge your deeds, and freedom is your
fundamental right. No one mandated to take it away from you, by dictating which
lifestyle to take.
A lawyer, a judge, and policeman our leaders are all vulnerable to abuse of
their titles. They can be compromised. That leaves only oneself.