Discover hidden stories and unheard voices on land governance issues from around the world. This is where the Land Portal community shares activities, experiences, challenges and successes.
The Maasai community of Musul have lived on the same land in Laikipia county for generations. It is their source of food and water, the heart of their culture and beliefs, and their ancestral home. But until recently, their legal rights to govern it were tenuous.
As a child, Saturdays meant two things for Rhonda: trash and pizza. Her mother ardently believed in being ‘a good member of her community’ and was committed to teaching her children the same. “She’d wake us up Saturday mornings and say, ‘Come on! Let’s go pick up the trash! We’d say, ‘Booo!’ And then she’d say, ‘Well, I’m going to take you out for pizza after.’ And we’d say, ‘Yay!’” recalls Rhonda with a laugh.
It was good land. Before the company’s arrival in 2011, the people of Ngovokpahun village had used it to grow cocoa and other cash crops to help them pay for their children’s education. But when Italian Agriculture offered to build them a school, health center, and roads, provide them with employment, and pay rent, leasing out the land seemed like the wiser option. The company drafted the agreement and the landowners signed.
No one asked them. No one even informed them. The first indicator the villagers had that something was happening in the Ar Yel Mountains was the arrival of men in construction hats.
At the beginning the disturbance was minimal; it was only one or two companies undertaking site explorations and tests. But by 2014, eight companies were “tearing the mountains apart” in their quest for manganese dioxide. That, said the villagers, was when the problems really began.
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