This past July, men and women from eleven indigenous communities across Kenya marched to the Ministry of Lands in Nairobi. Gripping unprocessed forms in their hands, they demanded official registration of their communal lands.
For three years, the legal process by which these communities could register and own their common lands had stalled. But within a day of marching, community members had seized the attention of the media and key government officials. Under scrutiny, the Ministry of Lands promised to process the communities’ applications within four months.
We rarely take the time to celebrate or learn from our victories. On October 14th, as we reflected on the legal empowerment journey of these inspiring communities.
The recording of this resourceful webinar is available at this link:
Our webinar featured a conversation with one of the community leaders who joined the march Francis Meitamei who is also a Paralegal from Kuku B in Kajiado, alongside Felister Manti; a community representative and Paralegal from Lenguruma in Isiolo, as well as insights from the organizations who supported them: Il’laramatak Community Concerns, Indigenous Movement for Peace Advancement and Conflict Transformation (IMPACT), Samburu Women’s Trust, and @namati_clp. They discussed such questions as:
- What are customary, indigenous land rights and why are they important?
- How did community members learn how to use the law to begin the process of registering their customary land claims? What did they do?
- How can legal empowerment equip the people most affected by injustice to advocate for themselves?
- What comes next? How will these communities build on their interim victory to fully realize their land rights?
By listening to each other’s stories, we gained both knowledge and hope. We shared how communities came to understand Kenya’s Community Land Act, met the requirements of the law, and engaged with government to demand the processing of their applications and the recognition of their land rights.