We have nothing to celebrate after 53 yrs of independence, say Boni...

We have nothing to celebrate after 53 yrs of independence, say Boni people

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Boni residents at a previous function. PHOTO/FILE

Lamu, KENYA: As Kenyans mark the 53rd year of independence,elders from Lamu’s minority Boni community have expressed disappointment for not having been fully recognized like Kenyans compared to other groups.

Speaking in Bargoni village on Sunday,the elders complained that for the last 53 years,the government hasn’t done anything to pull it out of the myriad of challenges and historical injustices.

They lamented that the community had never been accorded land ownership rights while the rest of Kenyans are enjoying the same.

The elders said for the Boni community,the 53 years have been nothing short of discrimination and open marginalization.

“We really have nothing to celebrate.As a community the stigma,the discrimination and unfairness projected towards us has been something we have learnt to accept and live with. We live like squatters and no single government has done anything about it,”said Doza Diza,the spokesperson of the council of Boni elders.

They challenged the government to prove its equality campaign by ensuring they acquire land rights and other benefits like the rest of Kenyans.

The elders have however lauded the government for efforts to improve security in their villages in the last one year following frequent Alshabaab raids in the villages.

The community are largely hunters and gatherers and have for decades depended on the Boni forest for survival.

The forest is however under military operation dubbed ‘operation Linda Boni’ and as such has been declared a no-go zone by the KDF and hence locking out the community from their only source of survival.

“We solely depend on forests. Since the operation began,our lives have never been the same. In as much as we appreciate the return of peace and calm due to the operation, we urge them to call it off if the objective has been attained so that we can resume our normal lives,”said Godana Boru.

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On September 11, 2015 Interior CS Josepth Nkaissery launched the Operation Linda Boni whose aim was to flush out Alshabaab militants said to be hiding within the forest.