It has always been a known, and even accepted fact, that in Kenya, land grabbers have an unquenchable thirst for land. The shadowy figures have been known to go after even revered spaces such as church, or even, school land. It is famously remembered that a land grabber once successfully grabbed land belonging to the Judiciary, and when the case went to court, the courts ruled against themselves, and in favour of the grabber.
However, following recent events in Taita, it seems this time the fraudsters might have gone too far.
Reports say that an unidentified private developer has laid claim on over 1,000 acres of land adjacent to Lake Challa. The community donated this land for conservation activities.
The lake is a hallowed shrine; a revered altar where special elders made many sacrifices to appease angry spirits.
Whenever calamities such as disease epidemics, drought and deaths visited the community, special elders from the Umba Sub-clan of the Mnene clan would sacrifice live black heifers
Mzee Nashon Mkunde, the Chairperson for Njama, says the unprecedented and brazen attempt to convert the lake land into a personal property has triggered consternation and left hundreds of residents stunned. Njama is the official title for the respected Taveta Council of Elders.
“This is not just a lake. It is a community’s shrine. This is where our people have always worshipped and offered sacrifices. That someone can claim this land and erect beacons to make it personal, is a sacrilege beyond words,” stressed the elder.
The land under privatization threat is reserved under Challa Conservation Area. It was set aside for members of the public around 2013 to allow the locals easy access to the scenic lake.
The erection of beacons by the investor was largely seen as the first step to block the local community from gaining access from the lake on the Kenyan side.
With Lake Challa’s unexploited great tourism potential, unconfirmed reports opine that the investor might be after the land to engage in private tourism activities.