Kenya: Land-grabbing impunity

Source: New Internationalist

In early January, protests ensued over a school’s playground in Nairobi being ‘grabbed’, illegally fenced off and seized.  

The case of Langata Road Primary School is a classic land-grabbing one, a clear indication of government impunity, and indeed, it’s said to be the project of Deputy President William Ruto.

With the school located in a zone controlled by the government’s opposition forces, the information spread like a burning bush-fire, attracting public attention. A demonstration to oppose the move was set up.

Civil society organizations, parents and a group of children’s rights activists led a protest demanding the land be given back to the school. Pupils of the same school joined in the protest and tore down the perimeter wall, to express their anger towards the government. Police at the scene tear-gassed the demonstrators, including the pupils.

More violence ensued, leaving at least five pupils seriously injured; a police officer was also injured in the mix and several activists arrested for participating in the demonstration.

The public condemned tear-gassing schoolchildren who were rightfully demanding their land back. The officer commanding the police division who ordered the use of tear gas against children was suspended by Cabinet Secretary for the Interior, Joseph Nkaissery.

Nkaissery visited the school a day later and apologized to the pupils, parents, teachers and public at large. The Cabinet Secretary for Land, Charity Ngilu, also supported the children’s protest. She declared that the land in question belonged to Langata Road Primary School. Ngilu later named the grabbers, as she had promised citizens she would do. Four people were named – all of whom appear to be foreign investors. But citizens are not yet satisfied.

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