NEWS 2008

03.01.2008 Two Ogiek shot by Kenya Police

08.01.2008 Ogiek Women Raped by GSU

19.01.2008 Paramilitary units hunt Ogiek, while Kikuyu arsonists burn houses of fleeing Ogiek to the ground

22.01.2008 Ogiek defend forests against corporate thief

30.01.2008 Ogiek People Under Attack In Kenya's Rift Valley

02.02.2008 Paper mill runs short of materials

04.02.2008 Ogiek killed like rabbits by rampant militia in Kenya

05.02.2008 Kenya Honey-Gathering Forest Tribe Caught in Violence


03.06.2008  The Ogiek: forgotten victims of Kenya's election violence

05.08.2008  Saving Mau Forest: Ogiek Community Voluntarily Accept Outside Resettlement



Two Ogiek shot by Kenya Police

03. Jan. 2008


Two Ogiek are the latest victims of Police brutality in Kenya's post-election turmoil. Nicolas Borwa, aged 29, were yesterday shot in the leg and Elijah Lesingo, aged 32, was shot in the neck. Both survived but are in bad condition.

Freshly deployed Administration Police from Beaston Trading Centre, located 30 km from Nakuru Town, who claimed that they had been instructed to protect houses of Kikuyu owners, are aparently harassing all civilians, except the people belonging to President Kibaki's tribe. The aboriginal Ogiek are thereby the least protected, though the Mau forest is their homeland.

The victims had to flee towards Nessuit and deeper into the forest area, where they only could find medical assistance from a traditional healer. Neither the health facilities nor the shops, who usually are providing some supplies at the trading centres, can be reached by the people from Nessuit, Mariashoni and other locations in the Mau forest. No means of public transport are operational any longer in this part of Kenya.

Only by means of a privately hired car at least some bags of maize and other emergency rations could be channeled through and did reach the Ogiek in Nassuit today. How many Ogiek families have lost their homes and belongings could not yet be established, but the situation is very severe, stated a spokesman from the Ogiek Peoples Development Programme.



Ogiek Women Raped by GSU

Tinet / Kenya - WTN - 8th Jan. 2008 - Members of the General Service Unit (GSU), the paramilitary force known for its brutality since 20 years, have allegedly raped two Ogiek women and two girls of minor age during the days of turmoil after the fraudulent presidential election in Kenya.

Reports indicate that Paulina Segem and Josphine Soi (the names of the minors are still withheld), who all hail from Tinet village, were raped by GSU personnel, which had been dispatched to guard the tea-factory and plantation at Kiptagich, belonging to former president Daniel arap Moi.

The four victims have not yet officially reported to the Police, because they fear reprisals at the hands of the police and the given intimidation is forcing them to not file a report. The ladies demand
that they get immediate protection from Human Rights Organizations and thereafter will report and press charges.



Paramilitary units hunt Ogiek, while Kikuyu arsonists burn houses of fleeing Ogiek to the ground

19. Jan 2008 - Elburgon / Kenya - WTN

Horrible reports from Elburgon speak of police and para-military units hunting members of the Ogiek community, whom they allegedly blame for the death of one police officer. Security personnel, however, could not provide any evidence that the Ogiek are involved in this case at all. The officer was shot in the head with an arrow.

Though Ogiek, one of the hunter-gatherer tribes of Kenya, regularly carry bows and arrows to maintain their marginalized life while collecting mainly honey and wild fruits from the forest, many other peoples living in the area, like Kikuyu, Maasai and Kalenjin have armed themselves with such traditional weapons since the post-election skirmishes broke out in Kenya three weeks ago. After that police officer died in hospital a manhunt has been launched now to find the culprit, but during the mayhem of the search in the vast forests around Mariashoni mainly the indigenous Ogiek are suffering from police brutality.

Last night more than 20 houses belonging to resident Ogiek in Mariashoni / Mau Forest were torched and burned to the ground by groups of Kikuyu youth, who apparently did this after the Ogiek had fled from the houses in order not to be entangeled in the police operation. The Kikuyu youth allegedly receive protection from the security personnel and could launch the arsonist attack against the Ogiek while security personnel was watching.

Roadblocks errected by Kikuyu youth along the road to Elburgon have to far made it impossible for Human Rights lawyers to reach the zone.



Ogiek defend forests against corporate thief

22. Jan. 2008 - WTN - Nakuru/Kenya

Ogiek forest defenders successfully defended today the trees of the famous Mau Forest in Kenya. Timsales Ltd., East Africa's largest timber dealer with companies in Kenya and Uganda, was stopped today by Ogiek homeland guards to cut trees in Mariashoni location.

The two lorries with timber-trailers, which rumbled through the area, carried not only the chainsaw wielding lumber-crew, but also 20 policemen with automatic weapons, who were hired to protect the alleged timber thieves.

Though Timsales, in which the Kenyatta Family and their most famous heir Uhuru Kenyatta have substantial stakes, had earlier - together with two other companies - been exempted by the former government from the general ban on hardwood felling, the Kenya Forest Service, a newly established parastatal entity, which has succeeded the corrupt governmental Forest Department, stated today, that since its takeover no licenses for hardwood harvesting had been issued. A representative of
Timsales Ltd. could not be reached for comment.

Timsales, it is believed by the local people, just tried to utilize the present political turmoil and the general confusion to illegally cut hardwood trees from the forest.

But the swift response of the Ogiek guards stopped the operation and together with local elders and leaders the lorries and their team as well as the police-escort could be peacefully convinced to leave the area, whose people also are grievance-stricken due to most recent killings and atrocities committed by security personnel and invaders from neighboring communities.



Ogiek People Under Attack In Kenya's Rift Valley

By Joe De Capua


30 January 2008

De Capua interview with Ogiek leader - (MP3) 968 kb

De Capua interview with Ogiek leader - (MP3) 241 kb

The violence in Kenya’s Rift Valley is now targeting the Ogiek people, who are indigenous hunter-gatherers in the Mau Forest. Reports say homes are being burned and many people have been wounded.

Survival International says the Ogiek have been fighting for many years against eviction and for protection from loggers, settlers and tea plantations.

Kiplangat Cheruyot is a leader of the Ogiek. From the Mau Forest, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the situation there.

“I’m in the Mau Forest and the situation currently is that there is tension. The police are everywhere and there are some houses, which are burning of the Ogiek people,” he says. He says that 15 people have been injured so far.

Asked who is burning Ogiek homes, Cheruyot says, “Kikuyu are burning our houses…and…the police are just watching and are not taking any action. Most of his people have fled deeper in the Mau Forrest.

“Close to 600 people for the last…week…have fled inside part of the forest. And now they are seeking refuge in the caves…and are still hiding there and they could not come out of there. They have left their houses and their things. (The) majority of their houses are being burned and those who were injured were transferred to…district hospital, where they’re getting some treatment,” he says.

Cheruyot says he knows why the houses are being burned. “They say the Ogiek voted for the ODM (opposition party) and Raila Odinga.” He says the Ogiek pledged their support to Odinga because he promised them he would fight for the rights of indigenous people.

“We the Ogiek as a minority community, we don’t believe in war at all. We haven’t engaged anybody in war.” He says up until the political violence broke out last December, the Ogiek and Kikuyu got along very well and some even married.



Paper mill runs short of materials




A Webuye-based paper mill is facing an acute shortage of raw materials.

Impassable roads due to illegal road blocks on highways since the post-election violence broke out has denied the Pan African Paper mills logs, which are its main raw material.

Executive director N.K. Saha on Wednesday went to see the Western provincial commissioner, Mr Abdul Mwasera, to ask for police escort for lorries ferrying logs to the company.

Mr Saha told the Nation that the company resorted to police protection to get logs from the forests to the factory.

The paper miller gets its raw material supply from Kaptagat and Timboroa in Rift Valley Province, areas worst hit by the violence that was triggered by last year’s disputed presidential elections results.

Mr Saha said that four lorries loaded with logs had been hijacked in the forest, thus scaring drivers. The drivers, he added, were worried of their safety making them reluctant to risk venturing into the forests without protection.

The company lost two of its lorries after they were set on fire while carrying finished products on the Webuye–Eldoret highway early in the week.

“We are finding it extremely difficult to continue operating under this disturbing circumstances but if we get security assurance, then we shall continue operations,” he said.

Has to consult

He, however, said the audience with Mr Mwasera did not result into automatic assurance as he has to consult his Rift Valley counterpart before addressing the issue.

Mr Saha appealed to the government to consider their request to protect the livelihoods of workers and their dependants.

The factory employs about 1,600 workers directly while thousands depend on its operations indirectly.



Ogiek killed like rabbits by rampant militia in Kenya

Mount Elgon - 04. Feb. 2008 - WTN

Realizing that the Ogiek had fled the area around Chepyuk and took refuge at Teldet and Chepkitale, the Sabaot Land Defense Force (SLDF), Kenya's most dangerous and notorious, at least 1000 men strong armed militia, has now taken advantage of the lawlessness and the commitments of the police elsewhere to hunt and kill the Ogiek like rabbits.

It is reported now that the Mount Elgon Ogiek have been evicted from Teldet and Kiboroa areas by the SLDF.One Ogiek Pastor by name Mati was killed by SLDF on 2nd February 2008 at Teldet area. The Ogiek call upon all Human Rights agencies and organizations to visit these areas, to witness and assess.

It must be noted that the Ogiek have known no peace since September 2006 until to date. Now that there is a national crisis, it is feared that the Ogiek of Mount Elgon will be exterminated by the SLDF, if no rapid rescue is mounted to free the area from the SLDF and their atrocities and to guarantee the safety and security of the Ogiek.

Local NGO staff reports: "THE SLDF MILITIA HAS ACTUALLY TAKEN OVER THE WHOLE OF MT. ELGON AND TRANS-NZOIA REGION. The police is closing their eyes or are even actively involved in creating death and misery. All are requested to help where they can as the Ogiek cannot access the towns but are currently holed up in the forests of Chepkitale covering such areas as Kapchepkelda, Labot, Toboo, Chepoongweny and Tommoi without any security or humanitarian assistance."

Today, 4th February 2008, the fighting between the hounting militia and fleeing Ogiek is still on at Teldet, 35 km from Kitale, where the Ogiek had gone with some cattle to exchange for money and cereals. About 70 of their cattle were yesterday "confiscated" by the police and 50 are held at the Do's office at Saboti, apparently upon the instructions by the District Officer. The other stolen cows are unaccounted for.



Kenya Honey-Gathering Forest Tribe Caught in Violence

Nicholas Wadhams in Nairobi, Kenya

National Geographic News

February 5, 2008

The violence that has swept across Kenya since December's presidential election has hit the tiny forest-dwelling Ogiek tribe, bringing to the fore grievances that have been simmering for years.

The Ogiek, best known for their traditional methods of beekeeping, have become caught up in ethnic clashes following the vote, resulting in the deaths of nine tribal members at the hands of police, according to leaders.

The killings may have been retribution for the tribe's support for opposition candidate Raila Odinga, leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), in the recent election, tribal officials say.

"I am not allowed to enter town because people say they are hunting for my life," said Daniel Kobei, chairman of the Ogiek People's Development Program.

"Being a strong supporter of ODM, I am one of the people who has been affected. Right now I can't go to work because they say they are looking for me, so I am waiting for the situation to calm down."

All across the country, regional ethnic majorities have driven out minorities in recent weeks, and there is perhaps no minority more vulnerable than the Ogiek, who have no militia, no government representative, and only bows and arrows to defend themselves.

On February 4, the Ogiek issued a statement saying they were being hunted "like rabbits" by a militia group dominated by the larger Kalenjin tribe.

"The situation for the Ogiek is very, very bad. They don't have any security at the moment," said Kanyinke Sena, of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee, a network of indigenous groups across the continent.

"People are taking advantage of the insecurity in the country right now to commit all sorts of atrocities."

Bee Cultivators

Living in the Mau Forest northwest of Nairobi, the Ogiek are one of the few remaining forest-dwelling tribes in Kenya (see map).

For centuries they made their living collecting herbs and cultivating bees, hanging hollowed-out sections of logs from trees where bees could nest and produce honey.

They also became known for training hunting dogs, which have become so important to the culture that dogs are sometimes included in bridal dowry prices.

Like many of Kenya's smaller ethnic groups, most of the 20,000 Ogiek backed Odinga, who had promised to reverse what some see as years of favoritism toward the dominant Kikuyu tribe.

To the Ogiek, such promises included the assurance that profits from logging on land traditionally seen as theirs would no longer go to the government in Nairobi but would instead be given to the tribe.

Odinga also pledged to address the tribe's long-standing grievances over land and to bar members from being expelled from their territory. Shortly before the election, Odinga was made an honorary Ogiek elder and was presented with a list of goals the Ogiek hoped he would achieve.

In December's election, Kenya's incumbent President Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, won a second five-year term in what international observers said was a highly flawed vote.

That sparked a burst of violence initially described as a spontaneous surge of frustration that many say reopened old fault lines between ethnic groups competing for land.

According to the February 4 statement issued by the Ogiek, militias dominated by the Kalenjin, rivals of the Kikuyu, killed an Ogiek man in the western region of the tribe's traditional territory.

"The militias represent themselves as a local group defending its own land rights, but in practice, what they have done is focus on some of the most marginalized groups to push them off the land," said Mark Lattimer, director of the London-based Minority Rights Group International.

Threatened for Decades

The Ogiek's existence has been threatened for decades. Since the early 20th century they have resisted government efforts to remove them from the Mau Forest.

The government has also logged parts of Mau, destroying the tribe's traditional terrain and replanting the land with fast-growing conifers that are useless for honey production.

Now the Ogiek say they are being targeted by Kenyans who simply want their land. When many people fled the violence after the election, Kikuyus came and either burned their homes or seized the land, tribe members say.

"So far, there is an increase [in] hunger because there is no trading, businesses are still closed, people cannot access the markets, and police are being perceived as siding with the Kikuyu," said Ogiek leader Kiplangat Cheruyot.

"We are appealing for urgent assistance, medicine, food, clothing, and blankets."

Some food has been delivered to the tribe, but the Kenya Red Cross, whose resources have been stretched by the crisis, says it has far bigger problems on its hands. Some 300,000 people are displaced around the country, and at least a thousand have been killed in the ongoing violence.

"If we're going to assist all the impoverished communities, then we'd have to do the whole of Turkana, all of Northeastern, and many other places," Kenya Red Cross chair Abbas Gulet said, referring to two of Kenya's poorest regions.

"Unless they are being displaced by the violence, we can't just give free food to everyone."




13 February 2008

A leader of the indigenous Ogiek nation in Kenya has received a death threat by telephone. An unknown caller told Mr Mpoiok Kobei, 'We need your head before Tuesday nineteenth, this month.'

Around a thousand people are thought to have died in Kenya in violence that followed disputed poll results six weeks ago, and more than 600,000 have been forced to flee their homes.

Hundreds of Ogiek families have been caught up in the violence and are among the displaced people. Several young Ogiek have been shot, Ogiek homes have been burned down, and there have been allegations of rape of Ogiek women by police.

The Ogiek are one of the few remaining hunter-gatherer peoples in East Africa. They live in the Mau mountain forest, overlooking the Rift Valley. They gather honey from beehives which they make from hollow logs and place in the high branches of the forest trees.

The Ogiek have been struggling for many years to resist eviction from their forest, and to protect it from settlers, loggers and tea plantations.

The anonymous phonecall was received at 17h15 has been traced to number 51-61484, which is a public phone booth in Njoro. A police report has been made, but nobody has been arrested yet.



Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Saving Mau Forest: Ogiek Community Voluntarily Accept Outside Resettlement

Yesterday, PM Raila Odinga received a large delegation of Ogiek community leaders in his office. As usual our mainstream media have given the momentous occasion little publicity. The hide-attired Ogiek delegation comprised of representatives from the Ogiek Peoples National Assembly (OPNA), Ogiek Welfare Council and the Ogiek Peoples Development Programme (OPDP) whose executive chairman Daniel Kobei doubled as their spokesman.

At the end of the meeting, the PM called a press conference attended by local and international press in which it was announced that the Ogieks were ready to move out of the controversial MAU forest on condition that the government resettles and compensates them adequately. Sadly, the NMG did not even bother to publish this story in its Nation newspaper. For those who have been following the protracted Mau saga, this announcement constitutes one of the most significant coups by any official of the government of Kenya since independence in the efforts to reclaim the forest and puts the PM in frame for international environmental honours.

The Ogieks who number about 20,000 people are not squatters but are in actual sense the only indigenous dwellers of the Mau Forest. They have since colonial times suffered eviction, persecution, harassment, intimidation, death threats and even murder from successive governments and their agents under the excuse of 'protecting the environment'. That the PM has persuaded them to peacefully leave their ancestral homeland and appreciate the importance of preserving this water catchment area is a great achievement indeed. No other government officials or Rift Valley MPs were present in this historic meeting and surprise, surprise….no tear gas canisters were unleashed on hapless Kenyans!

To put other Kenyan communities in perspective; can the proud Luo, for instance, ever accept to be evicted from the shores of Lake Victoria or perhaps are the populous Kikuyu ready to accept to be moved away from the Mount Kenya region even if it is for preserving the environment? You and I know this is an impossible dream.

Although the Mau Task Force is still working on modalities for handling the Mau crisis, it is not lost on political observers that Raila is already making inroads on the ground and is successfully working with grassroot communities in resolving the impasse. It should therefore not surprise anyone when a delegation of Kipsigis or Maasai community leaders or elders visits the PM in the near future and agree to be relocated from the Mau.

Whereas it is the right of any Kenyan community to public appointments, journalists attending the PM/Ogieks function were shocked to learn that no single individual from the Ogiek community has been nominated to parliament or appointment a minister, PS or even an MD of a public corporation, although quite a number of them are educated and qualified for public service jobs. The Ogiek never feature anywhere on the national radar apart from when they are resisting attempts to evict them from their homeland.

It will be interesting to hear what the so called Kipsigis and Maasai MPs have to say about yesterday’s meeting which was devoid of any political agenda. Meanwhile, the PM marches on……