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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Goodbye Masai Mara

Land grabbing incidents in Kenya are terribly boring to most Kenyans. Most folks do not even understand what land grabbing is and how it is done Kenya-style. One of the main reasons is probably because land grabbing is so common that it is hardly news these days. Even where we have seen land on which public toilets have been built right in the center of Nairobi being grabbed, there is now little left to shock Kenyans when it comes to land grabbing. Or is there…

Did you know that as I write this over 4,000 acres of prime public land, right within the world famous Masai Mara game reserve is in the hands of an individual?

But what is even more shocking are recent developments in this controversy which are fascinating to say the least and are a pointer to the rot that is Kenya today. Once again it has been proved that even when the government says that "no stones will be left unturned", there are plenty of "stones" that are way too heavy to be turned.

The individual who has grabbed the land within Masai Mara and whose brother is an assistant Minister in the government of national unity seems to have come up with the perfect strategy for ensuring that the public land stays firmly in his grasp. He has incorporated very big names into his grand theft. And when I say "BIG", I mean really big.

What complicates matters further is that there is a clear conflict of interest over any public prosecution because the current Deputy Public Prosecutor has for a long time been a lawyer to the man whose name the public property within the Mara is registered to.

It gets worse. The man involved in the grabbing visited State House at the height of the referendum and pledged his support and that of a large chunk of Narok voters in return for his pending court case being speedily settled. Shortly after this visit, the Narok Council clerk who had dared to give evidence against the grabber was speedily "transferred" out of the way.

Fellow Kenyans we are talking about the Masai Mara here, not some piece of land in some obscure countryside. What this means is that it is only a matter of time before other land grabbers move in and hive out other parts of the world famous park for their personal use and "development." At this rate the day is not too far off when we will see individuals receiving park fees from visits to the park. Already part of the grabbed land has at least one world famous tourist camp built on it, whose owners are now desperate, not knowing what to do next as letters to various government offices have yielded nothing.

I am seeking legal advice to name names. Watch this space.

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