This is a story of the tragedy, violence, vandalism and theft happening to a 4th generation Kenyan family trying to protect their farm, staff and cattle from armed tribal gunmen.
Kifuku is a private family farm in Laikipia County, in central Kenya. The Aggett family have been farming here since 1954. In this time Kifuku has become known for its natural poll Boran stud herd. Boran Cattle are hardy beef cattle which flourish in dry conditions such as those in Laikipia County.
Farming in Laikipia has always had issues with illegal grazing during the dry times. However, it is usually small herds belonging to local people and has been a manageable seasonal problem. This has now become a much more serious problem resulting from the trespassing of armed tribal gunmen into the area to illegally graze thousands of their cattle.
In late 2015 they invaded the neighbouring farm, Lombara, culminating in John Wachira Mwai being shot and seriously injured in mid July 2016. His farm has been completely taken over, the farm houses burnt and the family and their staff have been forced to move off. The collapse of Lombara resulted in an increase of pressure from these armed illegal grazers on Kifuku.
In August 2016 illegal grazers began to trespass onto Kifuku with their cattle, breaking a dry stone wall and an electric fence to do so. Following a tragic and unconnected accident in early September the manager and part owner of Kifuku farm, George Aggett, passed away. This is when the illegal grazing and trespassing escalated to the point that currently 90% of the farm cannot be accessed without being shot at or ambushed. After this, the decision was made to relocate the cattle off to the farms of generous friends. All farming has ceased as the family and farm staff tried to protect the remaining cattle. This has become harder and harder as the county entered a drought. For the first in the farms history, we have had to buy in fodder for the cattle. There have been numerous thefts of Kifuku cattle by the armed Samburu and Pokot, who also shot one of the Kifuku staff and have severely beat several others who were trying to protect the cattle. The family has remained on the farm, under siege but trying to protect it as best they can. The police that have come to the farm to help are seriously outnumbered and lack support and resources. However, they continue to help to the best of their ability while risking their own lives. Two police officers have been shot and injured while trying to enforce some law and order on Kifuku. For many of them, this is the first experience they have had of such a violent interaction with Pokot and Samburu pastoralists that have a seemingly inexhaustible supply of ammunition.
The home of one family has been repeatedly under fire for weeks with little serious action taken to end it and another has been broken into, vandalized and two of the family dogs were speared and left to die slowly for days before it was safe enough to access the house and the grounds. In addition to this, the nearby subsistence farmers on Kieni (a group of small holdings that borders Kifuku), also suffer from these land invasions and the violence that comes with it. One elder from the Turkana tribe who had a grazing agreement with Kifuku was shot dead on the 4th of November. The hope is that with enough awareness the Kenyan Government will be encouraged to take immediate and serious action to end this land invasion, restoring rights to landowners and preventing further loss of life.
Please help us by sharing this blog as widely as possible and follow Laikipia Land Invasions on Facebook – (https://www.facebook.com/Laikipia-Land-Invasions-401604596850641/). You could also tell media about it, and ask the Kenyan Government to protect the land, people and livelihoods in our beloved country.
A map of Laikipia County in Kenya.