Kenya’s Historical Injustices: Stolen Lands, Blood Tea, and Economic Exploitation

October 30, 2019    0 comment

Kenya’s “historical injustice” under British colonial rule did not just include the brutalities and killings recognized finally by the U.K. Government in its settlement in 2013 against the civilian population during the Mau Mau liberation movement. It also comprised numerous other human rights abuses, many of which still persist in Kenya and East Africa to this day. Approximately 5.5 million acres of Kenyan land were taken from a total of 6.75 million by the British Colonial Government in the years since 1902. Kenya became a protectorate of the British Empire as part of the “East African Protectorate established in 1895. The British claimed the lands as far west as Lake Naivasha and in 1902 extended this protectorate to Uganda. From 1920 it was known as the “Kenya Colony”, finally becoming independent in 1964. This process, known by the sterile term of “land alienation” was designed to remove the native peoples from their ancestral homes to be placed on “reserves”.

Various pieces of legislation commencing with the Land Acquisition Act (1894) and subsequent more draconian powers divided the land into three areas namely, the “Scheduled Areas” for European Settlement and “None Scheduled Areas” for purely African reserves, and finally the Coastal areas.

By the time of independence in 1963, some 3,600 white settler families occupied the equivalent of three million hectares (half of it suitable for cash crops), representing some 6% of all Kenya’s land area. This equated to some 20% of all Kenya’s arable land whilst some six million Africans were left to occupy the remainder. This “land alienation” which was effectively theft of land and “ethnic cleansing” using its modern terminology, resulted in the large-scale impoverishment, starvation, death of livestock, and even slaughter of African people by the colonial Government assisted by white settlers. In what is now Kericho and Bomet Counties the Kipsigo and Tali clans were forcibly removed due to “rebellion” were moved to cams in Gwassi in what is now Homa Bay County.

The County Governments of Kericho and Bomet County announced in 2015 a registration scheme to quantify the potential claimants who could sue the British Government for the “historical injustices” of the land alienation policies utilized from 1902 onwards to “ethnically cleanse” Africans from between 98,000 to 200,00 acres of prime agricultural land. That land is now occupied by six multi-national companies, all with their headquarters in the United Kingdom but with subsidiaries in Kenya to help block any legal actions and act as a filter for profits to be diverted outside of Kenya and pay a minimum amount of tax.
In 2018 the Kericho County Government successfully lodged a complaint of this part of the “historic injustice” with the United Nations Special Rapporteur in Geneva claiming some 90,000 acres of land was given to white settlers. In the process, some 115,000 were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands to Gwassi, by the British army and their colonial forces, where thousands died due to the harsh environment, disease, malnutrition, and lack of any accommodation or means of sustaining their population. The U.N. Special Rapporteur has written to Her Majesty’s Government requesting a response, which is anticipated to arrive in early 2020.

Aims and Objectives of the Conference and Panel Discussions

  • To highlight and reinforce the reforms recommended in the 2015 Audit;
  • To engage stakeholders to ensure those reforms are implemented;
  • To utilize the resources and experience of the legal and Judicial community of the Pan African Diaspora;
  • To share good practice throughout Kenya and the East African region
  • To discuss our strategic response to terrorism in Kenya and the region
  • To engage a community-led response to violent extremism.
  • To address solutions to the “historical injustices” of unlawful colonial land seizure and to combat economic exploitation by the multi-nationals

Dates: –
First Day: Thursday, November 28th, 2019. (Strathmore University)
Second Day: Friday, November 29th, 2019. (Strathmore University)
Gala Human Rights Award Dinner @ Crowne Plaza Hotel, Saturday 30th November.
Venue: – Strathmore University School of Law
Sponsorship: – The aim would be to raise corporate sponsorship to cover the cost of the events, promotional material., catering, conference report etc.
Proposed Delegate Costs per day = Delegate rate of 5,000 KSH. (8,000 KSH for both days); Students 1,000 KSH per day or 2,000 KSH for both days
Cost for the Gala Dinner and two days conference 12,000 KSH (Students 7,000 KSH)
Gala Dinner booked separately 6,000 KSH (Students 5,000 KSH)

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