They are Grabbing our Dignity!

‘Brikicho’ ‘banture’, this was the sound of fun that got me out of the house to play with my friends. Seating back to reminisce those days where we had games like ‘kalongo’, ‘kati’ ‘mawe’ and the famous ‘cha baba na mama’ which seems to have moved on with some adults to date. Looking at my nephews and nieces, I cannot help but pity them because they may never live these moments because a greedy individual at a corner office grabbed the land which they were meant to use as their playground.

It’s sad how land scandals have triggered conflicts and denied children their rights and responsibilities in this world full of injustices.

January 2015 is a time to remember. While traveling in a Lang’ata matatu heading home, everyone in the vehicle suddenly started sneezing while others coughing and feeling choked, reason being police were using tear gas on angry protesters who blocked the road while shouting ‘haki yetu’ and holding banners fighting for Lang’ata Primary School field which was used as a playfield by the children and was being grabbed by a Hotel owner who needed to expand his business. I couldn’t imagine a child being deprived of his rights and freedom to play because his or her field has been grabbed. I remembered how while in school I eagerly waited to end lessons so I could join friends for P.E. at our playground. For the Lang’ata Primary Kids little did it ever dawn to them that it shall come a time that their joy of play shall be cut short.

It’s sad how land scandals have triggered conflicts and denied children their rights and responsibilities in this world full of injustices. The culture of land grabbing and impunity was sanctioned by the colonial government where it used its instruments of power to dispossess thousands of villagers. The freedom fighters were detained, and their land was taken away. After independence, the government did not do enough to eradicate this vice, an indication of a lack of ethos.

Land grabbing is becoming a hindrance to the nation’s development agenda where land compensation drags important projects due to a few greedy land brokers. Nowadays, gangs invade and occupy whatever land it pleases them as seen in the case of Athi River where government land has been subdivided and sold.

There have been cases of invasions of both state and private land in several parts of the country leading to protracted conflicts and costly demolitions at a time a country is grappling with an acute shortage of housing. Some of these invasions have happened right under the noses of administrators among them chiefs, county commissioners, governors, and high government officials. Land grabbers collude with unscrupulous land officials at the Ministry of Lands, ending up disinheriting thousands of innocent citizens.

Previous reports have also revealed that powers bestowed to commissioners had been grossly abused by successive commissioners of lands and their deputies over the years leading to unbridled plunder.

Those with access to high offices have altered documents and allocated themselves large tracts of lands irregularly. Lands meant for roads, military, police stations, airports, hospitals, and schools once belonged to private hands.

Digitizing the land ownership processes is one of the BBI's proposals and will ensure transparency in land acquisition procedures. It’s clear that ethos whether good or bad can be transferred from one generation to another as evidenced by our government inheriting bad ethos such as that of land grabbing from the colonial rulership. It is the responsibility of people in leadership and parents to uphold national ethos for the younger generation to take after. People have committed all forms of injustices in the name of corruption hence undermining the rights of the less fortunate. The Building Bridges Initiative is an encouragement to Kenyans to know their rights and responsibilities to avoid their rights being violated.

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