Tension is rising between Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) and the pastoralist communities of the North following acquisitions of communal rangelands by the former through corrupt means. Current tension is mounting as NRT and the GoK moves forward in planning to dispossess communities of their lands and kill a thriving Livestock Economy by cheating and breaking cultural laws like buying cows including cows in calf, by paying less for bulls and by introducing a foreign rabbit farming.
A Conference of Pastoralist sitting at the Sportsman’s Arms Hotel in Nanyuki last weekend heard that large chunks of communal grazing lands in Isiolo, Samburu and Marsabit Counties have already been mapped out by NRT in the name of “conservancy” projects.
The participants were informed that NRT has already acquired thousands hectares of pasture lands in the three counties through falsified and bogus transactions organized through fake community agents who are paid to push through the deals in case the deals go sour. Last month it was reported that the Ol Pejeta, Borana and Ol Jogi Conservations have illegally fenced off over 400,000 acres of land that does not belong to them and includes Stock and wild life MIGRATION ROUTES. Members learnt that it is the primary duty of every government to defend its citizens from exploitations and further, to enact strict laws to protect their indigenous institutions through Ministries such as Culture and Environment. However it seems that in Kenya our leaders are prepared to disobey the wishes of their communities and have been corrupted by Foreigners.
The participants further learnt that 95% of pastoralist communities are people who neither understand the concept of the NRT PACT, nor are they interested in hearing of any activities that are against the prosperity of their Livestock Culture. The conference officials had a rough time controlling the irate participants who were irritated by the history of NRT and particularly by their secret agents and collaborators who they said will be held accountable for the work of NRT. The participants were surprised that the NRT issue is coming at the time when the wounds is still fresh on their minds of what a Briton at a Naivasha ranch did to a Masaai herder for passing through his motherland. “We don’t need to look for NRT because we don’t know who they are and where they are. We have to deal with opportunist self seekers who live amongst us as an agents of an enemy,” they said adding that the best way to handle an enemy is to go for its collaborators.
The forum learnt the problem of grabbing community land was made worse by government officials who aid land grabbers by compromising land policies by failing to enforce rules and procedures and continue to behave as if the responsibility to manage public lands does not fall within their departments. They make excuses and refuse to meet community members repeatedly, making decisions from Nairobi and elsewhere about their counties. The participants lamented that the problem of land grabbing is apparently becoming difficult to solve because government officials have a hand in it, corrupting the process of land transactions either by abetting shady deals or protecting land grabbers from the law by not cooperating or hiding information.
STRATEGIES AGAINST THE COMMUNITIES
The forum noted that the war against land grabbing cannot be won when the government and land officials are themselves land grabbers. They said all the pastoralists communities wherever they are in part of Kenya, suffer from the same problems and therefore, urged them to come together to forge a united front in defending their land against foreigners operating in the name of conservationists.
Some of the “partner initiatives” proposed by Foreign Conservationists and funded by World Bank, USAID, ActionAid and other NGO’s are:-
• Cash Crops
• Culling and De-stocking: buying cows and cows in calf
• Giving extremely poor prices for bulls
• Rabbit Farming – there is a very high percentage of Kenyans whom do NOT eat meat that comes from animals with paws some of which are:
.Cats, Lions, Leopard, Cheetah, Spotted Hyena, African wild dog and Tiger
.Canids, like dogs and foxes.
.Lepus microtis or African Savannah Hare also known as Abyssinian Hare.
.Bears and Raccoons.
.Weasels and other mustelids.
.Rodents eg. rats, mice, hamsters, squirrel, mole, beaver, gopher, porcupine, bats.
Members learned that Rabbit farming was introduced as a ‘cash crop’ for ‘foreign markets’ and not as local meat consumption. Questions abound about the gap and where should those millions of Kenyans who eat meat regularly buy meat from if the Pastoral community are forced to de-stock? Whose meat shall Kenyans eat, if there are no cattle. Secondly, the pastoral community has a continuous supply of beef, goats and milk and are never hungry. Finances for other products is derived from the sale of their cattle, hence destocking will not only create a famine in 2 years, but will impoverish the community. Members questioned the ‘business by any means necessary’ to gain a profit by NRT for it breaks all decorum regarding sustaining a culture and assisting the pastoralists and goes against the very ethics of CONservation or going green and ‘local’. Members also noted that NRT IS FUNDED by among others, the same #USAID which gives them billions of dollars and asked why NRT need then to ‘buy’ cattle from Pastoralists at ridiculously low prices that will not assist the pastoralist in any way – it is either a self defeating policy or a model that is built to deliberately DESTROY a way of life. It is to be noted that this idea was propagated in Laikipia through the “ATI Initiative” began by the Governor Nderitu Muriithi. The Amaiya Triangle Initiative (ATI) “proposes” to bring together the four counties of Baringo, Laikipia, Samburu and Isiolo with the aim of adopting a sustainable policy approach towards addressing the common development challenges particularly regarding insecurity, resource conflicts, food insecurity, environmental issues, drought emergencies, natural resource management and livelihoods among others. The ATI is a systematic well thought out World Bank project that seeks to give money to the Government through deliberate exchanges that do not involve the pastoralist community and seeks to kill their Livestock lifestyle.
NRT Trading is a FOR-PROFIT social enterprise owned by the white British owned NRT , whose mission is to identify, incubate, pilot and grow sustainable businesses “within” the NRT Conservancies. NRT Trading was established as a limited company in 2014, and now supports the development of direct commercial revenue in two main areas – livestock and beads. The success of these business ventures – one of which is the Branded Laikipia Beef is in direct completion to the Organic Pasture Fed Beef which is also known as “Maasai Cows” and in business it is necessary to kill competition. NRT Trading is now paving the way for NRT conservations to explore other emerging markets such as fish, mangos and silk, all which are foreign cultures (way of social life) and a direct backstab in the gut to Maasai and Pastoralists who do not either or grow silk worms or grow fish. As a business, NRT Trading must therefore kill all competition and the Pastoralist Grass Fed Beef is 100% organic and currently the new world-wide food fad and prices are skyrocketing. This is why among other reasons there is severe marginalization, the killing of Pastoralists and their cattle, and introduction of new ways of life that are contrary to the end process, for in conversations, the Laikipia Governor has been recorded demeaning pastoralists as “the maasai with his skinny cows..” and that they “have to go”, thus enforcing policies to that effect. This governor does not even care that the pastoralist is made up of more than just the “Maasai” and that Pastoralism is a livelihood that spreads across the North lands with the exception of Laikipia where over 98% has been stolen by NRT.
To date over 400 farmers have quit Rabbit Farming due to a lack of demand. Despite strong warnings that Rabbits were named Britain’s most costly invasive species – the same have been deliberately imported and currently NEMA has no control of the numbers of rabbits that have been released into the rangelands and pasturelands. Rabbits eat and Britain’s 40m rabbits cost more than £260m a year in damage to crops, businesses and infrastructure.
The moderator of the workshop told members that the plan by NRT to repossess their rangelands for rabbits farming is not only an economic sabotage but also a gross abuse of pastoralist culture which is against their taboos and is a Marxist thinking in the contest of African culture. He went further to remind the forum of the Masaai tribulations during the colonial and post-colonial transition government in which they lost chunks of their communal grazing lands in the name of conservancies and Crown Land.
The deal to takeover their lands, he said, was facilitated through a written agreement by the transitional government and signed by the Masaai who did not even understand the document they signed. He said that in this era of civilization, this myopic practice will not happen to Kenyans.
The forum learnt that the same tricks were applied by the CS Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala to endorse NRT to reconstruct Kenya colonies. The forum further learnt that pastoralists will not allow any culture which will discriminate against their livestock economy. What NRT is trying to introduce is not feasible in pastoralist culture and members will try and urge Balala to defunct his plan as it is a waste of spatial time and resources.
The members noted that there is a plan to kill Kenya Wildlife Services through gross mismanagement and abuse of funds and to impose a private foreign led “Ministry”. We learned that with Ian Craig already on the board of KWS, he has a strong ear of the our President. Together with other members of WWF and other international “CONservation” bodies, this is very feasible and Najib Balala involved, killing KWS seems to be a project that will be ongoing. Sadly, this is not a good idea and Kenyans cannot and will not accept this backward bypass plan. The warning signs are when the we (Kenyans and the world) begin to hear the narrative that “private conservancy and pastoralism cannot work together” due to their ideological differences. This will begin to come out in hostile press reports that will pit the ‘Pastoralist’ as a ‘bandit’ who ‘invades’ the ‘conservancies’ in search of grazing lands. Members said they are cannot agree for Kenyans to be named as bandits or evil on their own lands.
However, NRT is foreign with a foreign ideology which seeks to wipe out the Pastoralist and take over his land. The two cannot exist together without conflict because private conservancy is a predictor on pastoralist economy. Pastoralists must and will always keep large numbers of livestock as a strategy to mitigate economic risk and also for food survival. However, members of the meeting noted that private conservancy will not recognize this concept as a valid economic practice and instead impose policies which will force the pastoralists to dispose of their herds.
It was further learnt that the indigenous mode of land use and resource management system is based on the knowledge and experience of a peoples culture passed down from generation to generation and it encompasses the multiplicity of their social economic and environmental objectives – (environment including water bodies, lakes, rivers, forests, trees and all animals, birds and living creatures including insects and reptiles, all plants in that environment) and how to cope with different situations and adversities. The objectives of NRT is to benefit the program owners at the extinction of pastoralist economy.
The following action plan were proposed by the participants to deal with the NRT challenges:
- Extremely strong Community mobilization through transformative/awareness creation campaigns
- Awareness that these groupings will always be averted or disrupted deliberately, meetings shall be postponed, that there shall be deliberate provocation of members to derail communities togetherness – Awareness that know that NRT pays community members to disrupt and derail meetings.
- Information dissemination through radio, media, village meetings, social functions and social media.
- It was also proposed that community must be allocated ample time to test any suitability of NRT programs and not be forced. The community must be given the space to review, interrogate, question, pass or reject the reports by Balala’s task force and these actions cannot take a single day or week in a far away town.
- That members in each region should take the responsibility to act jointly to protect their communal lands against NRT invasions.
- That each region should struggle to develop and practice a culture which will foster and restore self-resilience.
- That the communities need to form strong movements based on each members struggle and stories. Both individuals and organisations need to come together often and raise the issues they need addressed in oneness, to add value to the communities action plan.
- The communities must map out who their opponents are, crystalize what is happening, what to achieve and how to achieve it and more importantly, develop an ideology and mission statement and stick to those goals.
- That community leaders and others across NRT Pastoralist Communities must begin to meet and work together to towards a common goal and defeat a common enemy.
By Sapansa Jirmo, Marsabit.