Lamu, KENYA: The Boni minority community in Lamu County has opposed plans by the national government to issue them with a block title deed for their lands.
The community has instead called for urgent land adjudication to enable every single land owner to be accorded a title deed.
The Boni now say the biggest challenge they are currently faced with, is trying to protect their lands from grabbers whom they say have found an easy way to steal their lands since they have no legal documentation to protect the resource.
Basuba Ward Rep Mohamed Delo said it was disheartening that since the country’s independence, the Boni community had yet to be recognized and given equal land rights like the rest of the communities in Lamu.
Majority of the Boni lands are occupied by the now infamous Boni forest cover, which is believed to have been turned into a hideout for Alshabaab militants.
The community which has for decades relied on traditional hunting and gathering for survival has now been banished from accessing the Boni forest which has been their main source of food and shrine place.
Delo appealed on the national government to consider allocating part of the forest land to the community to enable them practice farming since they can no longer go gathering and hunting.
“We are tired of living like squatters on our own lands. Why won’t the government recognize us and treat us like other communities? We shall not accept a block title deed because we know we deserve to have individual title deeds for our lands so that people can be free to do what they want with and on their lands,” said Delo.
Delo said distribution of land will also help clean up forest areas said to be harboring criminals; since they will now be turned into farmlands hence leaving no space for such situations.
They were reacting following the recent sentiments of Linda Boni operation Director James Serian who had proposed to have the government issue the Boni with a block title deed to stop them from selling off their lands,a move they opposed.