Ogiek tribesman may be driven from their ancestral forest home in Kenyan plan

by Jeffrey Gettleman

The Ogiek are traditionally forest dwellers, hunting antelope with homemade bows and harvesting honey. In the past 15 years, because of ill-planned settlement schemes (the government essentially handed out chunks of forest to cronies), 25 percent of the trees in the Mau forest have been wiped out. Photo: Tim Freccia/New York Times

MARASHONI, Kenya — With the stroke of a pen, the last of Kenya’s honey hunters may soon be homeless.

Since time immemorial, the Ogiek have been Kenya’s traditional forest dwellers. They have stalked antelope with homemade bows, made medicine from leaves and trapped bees to produce honey, the golden elixir of the woods. They have struggled to survive the press of modernity, and many times they have been persecuted, driven from their forests and belittled as “dorobo,” a word meaning roughly people with no cattle. Somehow, they have always managed to survive.