Boni community in Lamu urged to embrace modernity

Honey farmers of Lamu’s minority Boni community. PHOTO: NATASHA NEMA.

Lamu, KENYA: Linda Boni operation director in Lamu Joseph Kanyiri wants the Boni minority community to accept and embrace modernity to make their lives easier and more flexible.

The Boni are traditionally hunters,gatherers and honey harvesters who have been depending on the Boni forest for survival.

The community was however plunged into an uncertain future after the Boni forest was declared a no-go zone by the KDF as the operation was launched to pursue Alshabaab militants said to be hiding deep inside the Boni forest.

As such the community has been locked and have been relentlessly complained of how their lives have been disrupted due to it.

In Lamu, the Boni are found in Basuba,Milimani,Mangai,Mararani and Kiangwe villages in Lamu East while others are in Pandanguo village in Lamu West.

However, speaking in his Lamu office on Sunday,Kanyiri said it was high time for the Boni community to move along with the times and embrace modernity.

He said the community ought to discard age old beliefs and cultures that have been dragging their lives behind since this is a modern world.

Kanyiri urged the community to take up education and farming in order to disentangle themselves from the intense poverty and myriad of challenges facing them.

He said the government was willing and ready to aid them in the transition which he said wouldn’t be easy but is unavoidable considering the current times.

“We are ready to help them transition to farmers and other forms of modern living but they are reluctant.
Unfortunately the days and times we live in don’t favor their current lifestyles at all and in as much as we respect their way of life,we are also advising them to embrace modernity in order to survive.Some of their cultures are dragging them behind.They should let them go,”said Kanyiri.

Kanyiri asked them to try out farming for survival instead of pegging all their hopes and efforts on hunting and gathering.

He said the government and other well wishers have been supplying seeds and fertilizers to those willing to begin the transition to farming.

Kanyiri however expressed his displeasure and disappointment that the Boni have been eating the seeds instead of planting them.

He said only education and farming would improve their lives and bring development to the area.

“When we give them seeds so they can try farming,they cook them and eat.Its so disappointing but we wont stop helping because we intend to see them better than they are now.In as much as a people’s way of life must be respected,lets be careful that the same doesn’t enslave us and make us miserable.We encourage the Boni to send their children to school.Education is the only redeemer this days,”said Kanyiri.

He said together with the Red Cross and other well wishers,the national government shall continue to aid the Boni in every way possible including giving them food and financial assistance until the operation Linda Boni comes to an end as per the initial agreement when it was launched in 2015.

Kanyiri’s sentiments come days after Boni elders sought to have the community allowed back into the Boni forest after they claimed the government had reneged on its promise to supply them with food.