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Masai protest against white privilege

Masai on the 'murder trail'

May 21 2005 at 02:49PM

Narok, Kenya - Masai leaders have vowed to invade a ranch run by the grandson of one of Kenya's first white settlers to press for his re-arrest and prosecution over the killing of a Masai game-park warden.

The leaders say they are mobilising supporters to hold a sit-in at the ranch, run by Thomas Patrick Gilbert Cholmondeley, whose grandfather, Britain's Lord Delamere, was one of the first white settlers in Kenya. Cholmondeley's ranch is one of the country's largest.

Protesters will "settle there until we get justice", says Masai counsellor Jackson Ole Sunguya.

This week, a High Court judge dropped murder charges against Cholmondeley after Attorney General Amos Wako said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him for the April 19 killing of a warden who was investigating reports of poaching on the ranch.

The judge did say he would schedule an inquest into the killing.

"We have no confidence in the attorney general as a custodian of law," said Ben Koisaba of the Maa Civil Society, a group that fights for Masai rights.

Members of the Masai community plan to demonstrate today and blockade roads leading to one of Kenya's biggest nature parks, the Masai Mara Game Reserve, in a campaign to secure justice. The protest is to culminate in the invasion of Cholmondeley's ranch.

Nakuru district Police Chief Joshua Keyum says the force has stepped up security at the Masai Mara reserve and other areas frequented by tourists in an effort to ensure tourism remains unaffected by the protests.

Last month a Masai tribal leader accused Cholmondeley's family of having oppressed his people for generations. The Masai claim that land occupied by white settlers was stolen from them in 1904, soon after Britain colonised the country.

Kenya gained independence in 1963, but the Masai say successive governments have done nothing to satisfy their grievances.

Last year they launched a campaign to reclaim their land using peaceful, legal means.

This article was originally published on page 4 of Saturday Star on May 21, 2005

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