THE SENGWER INDIGENOUS PEOPLE
The Sengwer indigenous people live in the Cherangany Hills in Trans-Nzoia, West Pokot and Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kenya. The Sengwer people are considered one of the most marginalized communities in Kenya with an estimated population of 33,000 people.
Since colonial times the Sengwer indigenous people have been repeatedly denied land tenure rights to their customary land along the Cherangany Hills and the ability to occupy their ancestral forests peacefully. For decades, the Kenyan government and previously the British colonial state have used environmental concerns and conservation initiatives to legitimize the violent and forceful displacement of the Sengwer people.
Since Kenya became an independent nation The Sengwer People have been calling on Kenya’s national and county government to be acknowledged as traditional forest dweller communities, to have their forests returned to them under community land titles and have the right to conserve their forestlands to ensure the maintenance and ecological integrity of their land
“Honey at the Top is a film about the Sengwer forest people of the Cherangani Hills, Kenya, being evicted from their ancestral land in the name of conservation. Facing international pressure from organisations like the World Bank, a corrupt Kenya Forest Service who are burning their houses, and attempts to turn the forest into a commodity through carbon offsetting schemes, the Sengwer fight to hold onto their culture and resist the evictions” – WATCH ‘Honey at the Top’ FURTHER DOWN THE PAGE. PRESS THE CC BUTTON FOR SUBTITLE OPTIONS!
On the 7th of October 2019, the Sengwer community organized a march from Embobut Forest to Nairobi (450km) to hand out a petition with over 270,000 signatures to the the president Uhuru Kenyatta, demanding and the end of forced evictions, arbitrary imprisonment, violence and other human rights violations. The march was part of a week-long mobilization which included actions, meetings and conferences with different stakeholders. to discuss the sengwers land rights issues.
“Follow citizen journalist Elias Kimaiyo as he overcomes serious injury by the Kenya Forest Service to mobilise a network of Sengwer activists”
Elias Kimaiyo shared with us the Sengwers’ current work and priorities. Our campaign will actively try to support the Sengwers’ towards these goals.
With the current situation of land rights struggle and serious human rights violations committed against our community from both the state through KFS and from civilians from surrounding areas us we needed:
1. Support to straighten our community assemblies as it will create a platform for capacity building in terms of people coming together and learn and advocate how to voice their land right claims and bring to an end human right violations.
2. To strengthen Community by-laws and governance structures in line with our zonation maps in order to enhance effective conservation over the critical Cherangani water Tower that needs safeguard at all costs to ensure constant flow of water to down stream Communities.
3. We need support on areas to do with litigation of criminal cases against our community members who are arrested by KFS when found in the forest, this will stop our community being arrested by the state agencies.
4. There’s need of support on areas of conservation by establishing bamboo tree nurseries as most areas in Embobut which had Bamboo as been depleted so it needs to be restored bavk to it’s glorious state.
5. Due to constant forceful evictions how language, indigenous knowledge of various issues for example traditional herbalists and experts in various Indigenous knowledge is fading away, it needs to be revitalised in order to be transferred from one generation to another, this is done by bringing these experts and interested new generation together.
6. We need support for the walk of recognition where the Community in large numbers can walk to the office of the president asking them to recognise the Sengwer as one of the tribes of Kenya. The problems we face are because colonies decided to not give us an identity tribal code like the rest of settled Kenya tribes who could pay taxes and work as laborious in colonial farm. Our territory was subdivided into three Districts, now there are counties where our community live marginalised in their own land these counties are Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot and Trans-Zoia.
FOLLOW AND LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SENGWER