Whose Land Is It Anyway?
Earth, our precious earth has given us land, water and life. Man is an intelligent animal and he has an entrepreneurial edge of what do with this land, water and life. He created a Government and the Government set out rules and regulations for its people. The Government owns the land of a country first until it is bought or donated to a private developer or other organization for specific reasons. The Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development, deals the paperwork for these transactions.
“The Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development was established in May 2014, through Executive Order No. 2/2014 following the inauguration of the new government that collapsed the hitherto 44 ministries into 18, in accordance with Constitution of Kenya, 2010.
In the new structure, ministries that previously existed as single entities were merged to form super ministries, some with bigger responsibilities. Thus the five erstwhile ministries of Land, Housing, Urban Development and Nairobi Metropolitan Development, were joined together to form the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development.
The Ministry is charged with the responsibility of providing policy direction and coordinating all matters related to lands, housing and urban development.” (Source: http://www.lands.go.ke/ )
But why are we suddenly discussing land, who owns it and especially in this Asian corner? Well on Monday 19th January bull dozers lined up to bring down a wall at the Langata Primary School and before anybody could understand what was really going on, innocent children came on in protest “occupy playground”. The anti-riot police unfortunately used a forceful tactic against these kids and unleashed tear gas to disperse the crowd that had started affecting the traffic on the road. The children began coughing and falling like angels without a voice. The situation went viral online and it became clear that this was a land grabbing issue. Fingers quickly pointed at the neighboring Weston Hotel purportedly owned by the Deputy President William Ruto, that this was their expansion ploy and to intimidate the school and take over their land.
Personally I disagree with this charge. Unfortunately Weston Hotel has not made any official statement since then. In fact a Reuters news report says that the bulldozers came to remove the boundary wall, put up a new one and a proper soccer field. Again, no official word from the Langata Primary School also about this horrific drama.
What came out was the name of four Sikhs who are the owners of that land and were immediately called “land grabbers”. By Thursday 22nd January Lands Secretary Charity Ngilu told the media the name of the company and its shareholders details that are suspected to be the “drivers behind the bull dozers”. No statement from this company- Airport View Housing Company Limited. Are they the landowners? Or wanted to forcefully become the landowners of the school’s playground? What about the school?
It didn’t take long for land grabbing skeletons to come out of the closet including butt jokes on the Sikh community and the Deputy President. At first I was thoroughly upset for the #NgiluSinghJokes circulating all over social media and immediately said they must be stopped and those who especially photo shopped a photograph of the Deputy President wearing a turban must apologize. After some reflection I realized as far as jokes like these are concerned, they are in jest and frankly an expression of freedom of speech. Tomorrow in a similar situation hopefully with hurting innocent people, another community will face the butt of these jokes and life goes on.
Let’s focus on the real issue at hand. Why were the bulldozers there? How come the children had placards ready for their protest? Were they prepped, used for another agenda? After Lands Secretary announcement of the purported land grabbers, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the Ministry to immediately issue all schools with their title deeds under the names of the school committees and boards of governors. So where were the title deeds all this time? We are over 50 years old and there must be at least thousands of schools, how long will this process take and how authentic will it be? Will there be another land grabber in the future, this time, more powerful, ruthless and mysterious?