Lamu,KENYA:The Boni minority community in Lamu’s Bar’goni and Pandanguo have called on the national government to allow them access the Boni forest which is their only source of livelihood.
Since the introduction of the multi-agency security operation Linda Boni in Lamu in 2015, the Boni forest was declared a no-go zone by the KDF and the community ordered to keep off the forest for security reasons.
The operation was to flush out Alshabaab militants said to be hiding deep within the dense Boni forest.
The Bonis entirely rely on forest life for their economic activities which include hunting, gathering and harvesting of wild honey.
As such the community was forced to try and adapt to farming in order to sustain themselves but many of them say they cant do farming as good as they could do what they traditionally have being doing which is hunting, gathering and wild harvesting honey.
The community is calling on the government to allow them access the forest which they say is a rich haven of food,animals and water pertinent to their way of life.
They want to be able to access their traditional worship shrines which are located deep inside the forest.
The community says their life has been miserable since the forest was declared out of reach since they cant adapt to farming as it’s not what they like doing.
The community says they are now poorer and needier than they were when they depended on the forest and now have to depend on aid and grants for survival.
They lauded the government for the Operation which has so far been termed successful but said it was now time for the government to consider their needs as a community and allow them back into the forest.
“We are forest people and what that basically means is that our lives are tied to the Boni forest.We cant do without the forest just as we cant metamorphosise overnight from hunters and gatherers to farmers.Its like trying to turn a black baby to a white one,which is impossible.We need to be allowed access to the Boni forest because that’s just how we have been socialized,”said Guyo Guratho.
Doza Dizo,an elder of the community said their was need for the government to also think of compensating them for the entire period that they have been kept away from the forest.