Friday, July 19, 2024
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Mau Eviction Diaries: The Plight of the Elderly

Wilson Cheruiyot Tanui, a village elder of Chumaiyot which has 400 residents, blamed the confusion on the government.

Residents brandishing twigs as one of them shows journalists a title deed

“We bought the lands from the Maasai. Before we did that, it was government officials who helped us inspect the lands and approve as fit for purchase. The government through its National Lands Commission issued us with the very title deeds they are now trashing. President Kibaki himself ordered us to get back to our farms. The government even came and established a tea farm. President Uhuru Kenyatta has been here to launch roads. It is pure politics at play here. When the Maasai had these lands, they were farms. When we bought them, they became forests.”

Cheruiyot who insisted that they will not relocate until the government has shown them where to go, added that there was no proper communication of the eviction.

An elderly man showing his title deed.

“The government should have shown us when we acquired the lands that title deeds were fake. The problem is not us. It is the government.”

The elderly people are the most stranded, according to Cheruiyot.

Wilson Cheriyot after the interview

“Old people like me have not even the energy to walk as others. Where will we get the strength to travel while looking for places to resettle at? The children are now following us around. We thought that if they go to school, they would take care of us. Now, their schooling has also been cut short. Let the government come and finish us here.”

During the day, the elderly had gathered at Sierra Leone shopping centre where they sat quietly and stared into nothingness. While some managed to walk up to where journalists interviewed residents, others just sat as if they were not aware of anything going on.

Ochieng' Obunga, a Writer at large, is the founding Chief Editor of Mobile Journalism Africa.

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