The Endorois; bikap Torois
The Endorois are an indigenous minority community living around Lake Bogoria and Mochongoi Ol-Arabel and Marmanet Forest in Marigat (Baringo South Constituency) Mogotio sub-counties of Baringo County, as well as in Nakuru and Laikipia Counties within the Rit Valley of Kenya. The Endorois community lived around Lake Bogoria from time immemorial. It regarded Mochongoi Forest and Lake Bogoria as sacred grounds due to the use of these locations for key cultural and religious ceremonies.
While the government has never aggregated the data on The Endorois, whose number is slightly more than 45,000 according to the 2019 Kenya government census, the actual number could be higher than 60,000 in population but the government has never recognized them as a distinct ethnic community. Read about Endorois Bio-cultural protocol.
The Endorois identify themselves both as an indigenous and minority community in Kenya. They have been formally recognized as such by both the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPRs) Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities (WGIP) and by the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights. The Endorois People were forcibly evicted from their ancestral land in early 1970’s by the government of Kenya in the name of conservation – ultimately paving way for the creation of Lake Bogoria National Reserve.
It has been a long journey to reclaim the land and to obtain reparations. In a landmark decision adopted by the African Union on 2 February 2010, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR), hereinafter “African Commission” declared the expulsion of Endorois from their ancestral lands illegal. The African Commission found that the Kenyan Government had failed to recognise and protect Endorois’ ancestral land rights and failed to provide sufficient compensation or alternative grazing land following their eviction, or to grant restitution of their land, and similarly failed to include the community within the relevant development processes. Since the African Commission’s Endorois Decision was communicated to the Kenyan government by the African Commission, very little effort has been made to implement its recommendations.
This eviction and disenfranchisement of the Endorois has created generational trauma and intense loss of irreplaceable elders, culture, language and eradication of identity. With the disillusionment, loss of ancestral sacred lands and the increased westernisation at the expense of identity and valuable Indigenous knowledge systems, the youth in the Endorois community are at risk of permanently being detached from their ancestors’ lifeways. In addition, the Endorois people face the threat of assimilation and complete destruction of culture and traditional knowledge which dates back many millennia, tracing back to the original roots of humanity on the African continent.
Article 13 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) mentions the “Indigenous Peoples right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions … and that “member states shall take effective measures to ensure that this right is protected…”
Despite the passing of the UNDRIP at UN, the efforts implemented on these clauses to date have been insufficient and have not fully addressed the complex root of the issues. There exists insufficient meaningful youth engagement to preserve and transmit their heritage to the future generation.