The land question has always been a sensitive issue in the country’s history long before the colonialists arrived took over the best prime agricultural land in the country.
Kenyans have fought each other for it at the individual, family and community level leaving a trail of blood, destruction and hostility.
Indeed, it has always been a major topic at all forums since independence 49 years ago and featured prominently at the Lancaster Constitutional Conference, in the Kenya We Want in the 1980s, in the Bomas Conference in 2005, and was finally captured in the new Constitution in 2010.
The thorny issue has been politicised over the years and led to political land clashes in 1992, 1997 and the 2007 post elections violence which left over 1,300 men, women and children killed and over 600,000 others displaced in Rift Valley Province and other parts of the country.
But that dark phase of our country’s history is about to change forever, thanks to the assenting of three crucial land laws by President Kibaki last month, that have captured the women’s gains in the new Constitution aptly.
Indeed, Kenyans can now heave a sigh of relief remembering the words of the founder of the nation, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, in 1952: “God said this is our land, land in which we flourish as a people. We want our cattle to get fat on our land so that our children grow up in prosperity; and we do not want the fat removed to feed others.”
The three are the long awaited National Land Commission Act 2012; the Land Act 2012; and the Land Registration Act, 2012, which activists like Odenda Lumumba, the CEO of the Kenya Land Alliance, among others, have been lobbying for decades have been assented to by President Kibaki.
The National Land Commission Act establishes the National Land Commission and as well as creates rules for the management and administration of land in accordance with the principles of land policy as outlined in the Constitution and in the national land policy.
The Act further provides for a linkage between the Commission, county governments and other institutions dealing with land and land related resources. On the other hand, the National Land Commission shall manage public land on behalf of the national and county governments.
With regard to the Land Act, the law provides for the mechanism to revise, consolidate and rationalise land laws as well as to provide for the sustainable administration and management of land and land based resources.
On its part, the Land Registration Act establishes mechanisms to revise, consolidate and rationalise the registration of titles to land, to give effect to the principles and objects of devolved government in land registration and other related purposes.
Now that the new laws are in place, Kenyans will look up to the implementing actors and agencies to translate their dreams into reality.
During the ongoing AWC Features Service countrywide peace forums in Garissa, Kibera, Eldoret and Nakuru, women from all walks of life have singled out the unresolved land question as one of the major causes of conflict in their respective families pitting brothers against sisters and/or in-laws; in their homes and in their community.
These women now have a reason to smile, as they look forward to Parliament taking the next step towards legislation of the three laws and ensure that women fully reap the benefits.
This article was also published in the Kenyan Woman Issue 25 (Download the PDF)