Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Endorois have won their case

Tourists welcome, no Endorois: the slightly grubby swimming pool and warm spring complex at Lake Bogoria Spa Resort, with its usual 0% occupancy.

It's a small victory for human rights in Kenya, but gives hope to dozens of other communities. The Endorois are a small tribe of Kalenjin pastoralists, closely related to the Tugen. They used to range over a large area around Lake Bogoria, but were evicted from the narrow shores of the lake when the reserve was created in 1974. Although they lost little of their traditional grazing lands within the reserve’s narrow confines, what they did lose was precious and fertile, along the wooded southern shore, where several streams provided valuable fresh water, and at Loboi in the north, where the ill-conceived spa-hotel owned by the family of former president Daniel Arap Moi expropriated the warm springs. They also lost valuable honey and sources of herbal medicine. Like every one of Kenya’s indigenous groups, they have valid claims, and their four percent share of the gate receipts is pitifully low – especially since Bogoria rarely figures on safari itineraries. Inspired community leadership has seen them pursue restitution of their lands and compensation as far as the African Union’s Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. And finally last May's judgement has been made public. Now they will want to see action on the ground – that should be interesting.

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