Land in Isiolo and the NRT Con Tract
By Najar Nyakio Munyinyi,
Local communities are fed up with the Northern Rangelands Trust. We made a presentation with facts and shone light on some shocking truths. In the room were Members of the County Government and Isiolo Business community and in predictable response to negate the truth, NRT responded and retorted that the activists are racist. It has nothing to do with something as simple as colour for we are not fools. Ian Craig never owned Ol-Pejeta, but he did turn Lewa Downs into a Family Trust which enables it to receive billions in Dollar Funding. TNC (The Nature Conservancy) is then able to allocate funding to the Trust. Craig placed local figureheads in NRT. Yet, unbeknownst to the majority, this is a gimmick just to placate ignorant Kenyans for it is he who removes and plays the racial card!
When seeking funding abroad, Ian Craig uses his white face and British citizenship and links with Royalty in Posters, Magazines and Newspapers as well as TV Advertisements across the US and UK to ask for Billions of dollars to take care of “the business”. None of the locals do marketing abroad for NRT. Yet, they manage to infiltrate Errant Native meetings to report back to Lewa, though, for we met for a whole day, and only at 4.30 pm did the NRT “Financial Director” introduce himself – he did so saying “….. and I am NRT” like we were a flock of flies… why the lies? We had all stood up and introduced ourselves in the morning! Ian Craig while saying he is Kenyan, does not lie if being born in a country makes you a citizen of the that country…. For many are born here but at 18 declare their status, yet he holds a British Passport and was recently knighted by the Queen for his good work to Queen & Country, so whom exactly is this Craig fellow? What we as Errants question is his methods of taking land from indigenous communities and bribing the old men with Kshs 35,000 per month. (They probably think everyone gets the same, which is rubbish) and pitting Kenyans against Kenyans for this very same NRT Financial Director who was sent as a spy said we should go complain about a “certain community – (the Ameru) who are cutting your trees ” – he brought in tribalism.
And in the weeks since that meeting, the Isiolo County has surely had problems with the Ameru Governor, and LAPSETT land issues…. If this ‘finance man’ is a 1/4 of the Ian Craig and NRT, you can see why as Errants we want both systems of thought out of Northern Kenya. What we want is Kenya Yetu and we’re not against ourselves and our ways of life which is Pastoralism and not conservation which does not have a word in the local languages…. If Ian Craig is “Kenyan” then he should, pull down all the fences in Isiolo, Marsabit and Samburu, open LEWA up completely and listen to the elders in the Pastoral communities. He should stop airlifting animals from one area to another, stop sending young boys to call wise elders liars, stop hogging permanent waterholes where indigenous communities are not allowed, stop training young men in arms……TukoPamoja? Pastoralism is a way of LIFE. If you’re Kenyan and you love this way of life, then live it. Mr Ian Craig, stop calling us Racist. It came out of your mouth, not ours.
Sustainable living as decreed by Africans is our mission. We believe in solutions for African problems by Africans for an African way of life. Our cultures are Pastoralism, hunter gathering and subsistence agriculture. Conservation is a model developed in America in the last century by President Roosevelt and it depends on handouts, on begging funders, on theft, lies, the distortion of truth and flagrant treachery for the funding money is in the Billions. At the bottom of these handouts are the bare facts that the land is government leased at barely a few cents per month – so where does all the money GO? NRT management is not sustainable at all for the larger indigenous population in the North of Kenya whichever way you look at it. It is simply a land for free, run in a system of imperialism plus a neo-colonialism capitalism where the white man carries the gun, and if the local one does, he’s branded a bandit, thief or worse, and can be shot dead on sight. Even Rhinos are not shot dead on sight despite them killing hundreds of locals [More on this later]
Remember too that NRT is dependent on USAID, from UNDP, DANIDA, TUSK, TNC, WWF and other agencies who give them BILLIONS of US dollars per year. CONservation CANNOT sustain itself. Yet the locals in the same areas live worse than dogs in tracts of land where a few decades ago their fathers and grandfather’s were Kings of the Land. These locals are kept poor for a reason – so that the American and UK tourists are taken to the sad decrepit villages where they are informed that their donations help to feed the communities. Have you seen the wealth of the lodges? Helicopters for transport, hot water running showers, swimming pools (water) tables set, white cloths with 5 course meals and the finest 1000usd bottles of champagne? Who is the waiter? A Kikuyu impersonating another in a Maasai Shuka. A Big White Lie. This is how Ian Craig lives and sets the communities against each other – he has also impoverished them in order to get more funding, but most of all, to reserve these Spaces in the Bush and on Mount Kenya for the British Royal Family.
The U.S. Government launched a New Partnership with the Northern Rangelands Trust on November 14, 2016 in order to *secure* Kenya’s natural resources. The U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Robert F. Godec launched a new U.S. Agency for International Development program in support of “seven community conservancies” across Northern and Coastal Kenya. The program is part of a new 5-year, Ksh 2 billion (US $20 million) partnership with NRT, managed by Ian Craig to “help” expand NRT’s operations in 33 conservancies in Kenya’s Northern and Coastal regions, covering 10.8 million acres (44,000km2). Ambassador Godec made the announcement at Pate Conservancy, in the ancient port of Lamu, the headquarters’ for NRT’s Coast Region Program. No locals or elders from these communities were present.
With so much money to bribe neighboring communities, it’s not surprising that Ian Craig is pushing his agenda with others against the quiet and peace loving Borana in southern Isiolo. First he used the Turkana community against them, now the Isiolo county governor has problems with the Ameru on one side, and ‘Al Shabaab’ from Laikipia on the other side.
NRT, USA and several EU Commission> countries are lobbying the IEBC Kenya and the Environment, Mining, Minerals, Wildlife and Pollution Committee in Kenyan Parliament via kizungu mingi to scrap the constituencies to make one single ‘manageable’ constituency in Northern Kenya. However, it is now common knowledge that NRT is owned by the Royal UK Family and NOT owned by ‘the communities’ – who have no land title deeds – and that all this land was “grabbed” through evictions of the locals, through the erection of fences, burning of villages, homes, killing cattle, poisoning boreholes. Nor do the communities have any say in the running and management of NRT, and they are locked out of freely wandering in and out of their own lands in a despicable boer and colonial type rule. It is also well known that NRT does not benefit the indigenous communities in any way and has instead brought insecurity into the area with the introduction of arms, training of private armies and setting brother against father, against brother, against mother. Now NRT and its foreign lobbyists are trying to push the agenda that the far-flung constituencies of Isiolo South, Laisamis, North Horr and Saku of Northern Kenya can be placed under North Horr Constituency with its Head Quarters in Marsabit town. This despite the fact the move is contrary to Section 27(4) of Transitional and Consequential provisions of the Constitution of Kenya. Currently, NRT boasts on it’s website that it has close to 4.9 million acres of land stretching from Lamu to Moyale and Turkana under its armed control, although Turkana recently kicked NRT out. NRT itself, one local MP & NRT international partners including the TUSK Trust which is owned by Prince William, are of the colonial attitude that “it is prudent for NRT to reduce the number of politicians and MCAs who are ‘the cause of slow acquisition of land in these region'[ie, those indigenous who are opposed to selling their ancestral lands]. This apparently due to the ‘insatiable appetite’ for ‘development funds’ during the entire 5-year political life, and “we are unable to sustain such demand, ” the lobbyist said in their proposal, hence the call for reduction of constituencies and wards – this is [less people to bribe].
Prince William came to push an agenda in September, and if Isiolo is not careful, this County may cease to exist, and so shall pastoralism as weknow it. Laikipia is 99% foreign ‘leased’ and NRT owned, so those who deny the notion that Isiolo is up for grabs from the colonialists are living in denial. WWF is interconnected with LAPSETT, and already the road route has been modified by them, with those who live in Isiolo having absolutely no say in what is happening in their own lands. The Airport falls under “Meru County” and all it’s employees are Meru. When did this happen and with whose permission? Whom are WWF and all the other foreign owned ‘agencies’ who are so adamant about buying up land in Isiolo and Marsabit? Many are connected to NRT and through them, the Royal Family. Meanwhile, so clever is Ian Craig and the machinery behind NRT, that they have began to soil the name of one of Isiolo’s best, Mohammed Jicho Pevu. Northern Kenya needs to know it’s enemy is one, it is not we Kenyans. It is the former Colonialist who never left this land.
Simple and naive people were CONNED out of their TRACTS of land, pushed in to signing CONTRACTS with the NRT. NRT is the problem, not those who were conned – they are the victims and now have nowhere to make a home.
Najar is a social Activist and Founder of Errant Natives.