Hunter-gatherers and pastoralists participate in debates on constitution

May 31, 2003

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In an exciting development, hunter-gatherer and pastoralist peoples are playing an active part in the conference which is debating Kenya's new Constitution. That they are able to do so is a breakthrough and a sign of hope for tribal peoples' rights in Kenya. The Maa Pastoralists Council and other pastoralists' organisations have sent delegates, and a pastoralist representative, Koitamet Ole Kina, has been elected Vice-Chairman.

As the conference debated the issue of community land, Ogiek delegate Ezekiel Kesendany pointed out that his that his people, the Ogiek hunter-gatherers, should be allowed to live peacefully in their forest or be resettled on their original lands. He jokingly attacked the famous environmental campaigner Wangari Maathai, now Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, for not sufficiently appreciating the Ogiek as defenders of the forest.

The conference reconvenes on 17 August 2003.