By Betty Luke
An Isiolo woman, who is blind, has appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta, well wishers and Non Governmental Organizations to help her recover her five-acre-land in Kiwanjani allegedly grabbed 10 years ago and exactly eight years after she lost her sight.
The 59-year-old Jane Mukomugaa says she acquired the piece of land with her late husband in 1982 before he passed on 13 years later.
The distraught mother of eight says the incident reduced her into a beggar as the about 50 by 100 remaining land was not adequate enough to sustain farming activities that she previously relied on for living.
But who grabbed her land?
The woman claims some of the local national government adminstrators (chiefs and their assistants) colluded with some powerful people and defrauded her of the land before sharing it out to other people she had never seen before.
Besides losing her land, some rental houses she had constructed with the husband were also demolished dealing her huge blow.
“The harvest (from the Shamba) was enough for my family’s consumption and we would even sell. I did not rely on anyone for food or anything else I needed,” she told journalists at her home.
Nine years after the death of her husband, Mrs Mukomugaa developed rare eye condition that rendered her blind.
Financially strained, her children were forced to drop out of school and seek casual jobs to support their mother and at least put food on the table.
“None of them completed primary school because I could sustain them in school due to lack of income. I also had no one to rely on,” she said.
“It pains me that none of my children got any share of the land,” she says amid tears.
A few years after the alleged grabbing, four rooms on the spared land were razed down in an inferno whose cause is yet to be established.
Hopeless and disappointed after the ugly ordeal, majority of her children left home and embarked on job seeking mission in other counties.
Due to her wanting financial situation, the woman saw no possibility sustaining her case in courts and chose not to seek legal redress.
She severally tried seeking help from different government offices but was reportedly blocked at the gates.
“I have been visiting different offices in the county but they have been blocking me at the gate,” she said as her last born son assisted her to the iron sheet made house that they have been sharing.
The man, who dropped out in Class Four, has been acting as the mother’s guide.
A visit at her home offers a glimpse of the suffering that she continues to undergo- an old blanket on the dusty floor that she has been sharing with her son, few utensils scattered all over the minute iron-sheet house and somewhat dirty clothes stare at the roof.
She says any help from whomever to recover the land is welcome.
“I have no money to hire a lawyer. If assisted, I would love to seek justice and get back my property because I am already tired depending on friends for survival,” she noted while revealing that she has been relying on other land grabbing victims from Wabera and Bulapesa wards.
She has also appealed to local leaders to take up the matter and help her re-establish few rental houses to enable her earn some income to provide for her family.
Mrs Mukomugaa’s story is one among the many in the county of hundreds of poor residents who continue to hold onto hope that one day their grabbed land would be reverted back though the wait seems to be taking longer even as the victims point an accusing finger on the devolved government over what they say is failure to address the issue.
Land grabbing cartels in the region reportedly work in cahoots with some of the local leaders who pay them to eject legitimate owners from their land and even take them to court in efforts to obtain stay orders to bar them from developing the properties.