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TJRC starts hearings on Mount Elgon injustices

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 24 – The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) began its hearings in western Kenya on Monday with public sittings in Mt Elgon.

Former MP Wilberforce Kisiero and representatives of the Sabaot community presented their memorandum to the TJRC at Kibuk Catholic Church in Kapsokwony, narrating the long history of conflict between his community and their neighbours, the Bukusu.

"The mountain\’s problems began when the colonialists removed people from their ancestral land that is Tran-Nzoia, Bungoma including Mt Elgon. They removed the Sabaot because they wanted to settle soldiers from World War I and so began to forcefully remove them to Uganda," he recounted.

Mr Kisiero said they wanted to be settled in government farms, describing a series of perceived betrayals by successive regimes, by which the Sabaot had been displaced and never compensated.

"All we want is for land for the Sabaot to be looked for in the remaining government farms which are in Trans Nzoia, which is their ancestral land, not all just a token. There should further be consideration for 5,000 displaced from Chebyuk settlement scheme. While we would prefer Mt Elgon be divided into three constituencies, in consideration of the economy and the expense, we would be happy if it was split into two," he said.

Timothy Mulumbi representing the Bukusu community said he recalled former President Moi saying that the removal of Section 2A from the Constitution, which effectively turned Kenya into a multi-party state, would lead to tribal clashes which subsequently happened in 1992 after elections.

"The Bukusus were not armed. We still have wounds from the past, but I believe that we have started healing from the testimonies being brought to you TJRC," he said.

Mr Mulumbi said he knew who among the leadership had caused the cyclical violence in the region, when asked by the Presiding Chair Prof Tom Ojienda.

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"Yes it is our leaders, we know them but we want healing. When we reported to the police they dismissively likened to a match between AFC and Gor Mahia (alluding to rivalry between the top football teams in Kenya); they did nothing. We want healing and we want to co-exist with our neighbours," he said.

The TJRC hearings continue at Kibuk Catholic Church on Wednesday.

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