Laikipia farm invasions continue (Kenya)


The Star

Date Published

The latest farm to be invaded in Laikipia is Jennings, outside
Rumuruti on the way to Kifuku, opposite the farm of Senator GG

Armed herdsmen on Sunday invaded the farm of Will Jennings, a mixed
race Kenyan, even though the Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) was nearby.
There was shooting but Jennings was not injured, contrary to initial

In July his neighbour, farmer George Mwai, was shot twice while
driving home and is now in a wheelchair.

Multiple farms have been invaded in Laikipia in the last two months,
including the Loisaba conservancy established to benefit surrounding
communities through conservation and the 50,000-acre Segera ranchowned
by Jochen Zeitz, former CEO of global sports brand Puma. The Tasia
community Maasai ranch has also been disrupted.

In Samburu itself in early November, their own conservancy of Sera,
where black rhino are protected, was invaded.

Donors have just cancelled a multi-million dollar conservation project
because of the crisis.

Small farmers have suffered as much as large ones. Sheep and goats
have been stolen, crops trampled by cattle and ten people killed. The
Red Cross is assisting displaced people in Rumuruti.

An estimated 125,000 cattle have invaded Laikipia from Samburu and
other counties. It is not locals who are invading farms and ranches –
it is outsiders.

Traditionally pastoralist families had small herds. Now ‘big men’,
politicians and corrupt officials have huge herds with several
thousand head but they do not own sufficient land to graze the cattle.
They use their relatives as herdsmen. This is the root of the problem.

The ‘bigmen’ hide their ill-gotten wealth in cattle, which is
invisible to the KRA and anti-corruption authorities. They are now
trying to grab land in Laikipia to keep their cattle.

An MP, who is one of the ‘big men’, allegedly has 3,000 among the
invading cattle.

Historically Laikipia has been one of the most diverse areas in Kenya
with the Turkana, Pokot, Kikuyu, Maasai and Samburu living peacefully
side by side.

A Cabinet minute in October gave clear instructions that farm
invasions would not be tolerated. However, the Cabinet order is
largely being ignored on the ground.

A security meeting in Rumuruti on November 9 was chaired by Francis
ole Kaparo, chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration
Commission, and around 400 RDU were deployed afterwards.

However, this number is probably inadequate when there are thousands
of armed outsiders invading Laikipia.

“The violence hitting Laikipia is a political land grab by militant
Samburu politicians against all other ethnic groups ahead of the 2017
polls. They are using vast numbers of cattle as a weapon to invade
land, hoping to drive out the rightful owners and voters for other
parties,” said one Nanyuki resident.

“The majority of victims are small holders and poor people. Their
maize patches invaded, their handfuls of goats stolen, guns
threatening people everywhere.This is impunity,” he said.

“It is a myth that this is about ‘poor pastoralists’ who just need
grass in a ‘drought’. The truth is that the majority of the cattle are
owned by MPs, administration officials, top cops and other rich barons
who hide their money in cattle which elude KRA taxes.”