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The Sengwer Struggle: "We shall overcome"

The Sengwer have lived all their lifetimes since time immemorial inside the glades of Forests in the Cherangany Hills
Published : February 6, 2022

Photo Caption: A typical Sengwer homestead in Kapkok glade inside Embobut Forest. Photo by Elias Kimaiyo


The Sengwer people are an indigenous community who primarily live in the Embobut forest in the western highlands of Kenya and in scattered areas across Trans Nzoia, West Pokot and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties.

They have a cultural and spiritual attachment to Embobut Forest. The right of the Sengwer to their land is protected by the Constitution of Kenya, which defines “ancestral lands and lands traditionally occupied by hunter-gatherer communities” as community lands.

In the name of “conservation”, the KFS guards have burned an estimated over 2,600 houses since 2012, making more than 4,600 people homeless. In January 2018, Robert Kirotich was shot dead and David Kosgei seriously injured. Both were unharmed. The violence is in direct violation of repeated court orders that should protect this Indigenous community.

Primary Source
#43: Human Rights Violations: Robert Kirotich's brutal death at the hand of KFS guards
January 17, 2022

Robert Kirotich was shot dead in cold blood  by KFS guards at Kapkok/Kipsitona while he was looking after his animals. He was unharmed.

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Primary Source

#43: Human Rights Violations: Robert Kirotich's brutal death at the hand of KFS guards

January 17, 2022

Robert Kirotich was shot dead in cold blood  by KFS guards at Kapkok/Kipsitona while he was looking after his animals. He was unharmed.

The body of Robert Kirotich after the brutal murder.

Sengwer people are losing their homes, livelihoods and cultural identity. Some are now living outside the forest and have been left in crushing poverty. Women are often hit hardest, struggling on their own to care for families as some men stay in the forest or have abandoned their families.

The social order is broken, families separated, school going children dropped out of school and source of livelihoods shattered. That is what the Sengwer are going through.

Quoting from Psalms 30, "...weeping may endure through the night, but joy always come in the morning". The Sengwer remains optimistic that the government will recognize their land tenure rights and permit them to live inside the forest under conservation conditions.