Thousands of people were left landless because of greed among the political elite in the Kenyatta administration in the 1960s. Politician Jackson Angaine, who was the Lands minister in 1965, presided over dishing out of prime land, some of which was allocated to Mr Daniel Moi, who later became president. Photo/FILE
By John Kamaup
The take-over by the rich of farms meant to settle the poor in the high-potential areas infuriated the British Government and confused government officials who did not want to take action or stop continued allocation of the 100-acre plots (Z-plots) to the rich.
Only one man — Mr James Maina Wanjigi, the Director of Settlements — dared to issue a directive to stop the allocation. But he was quickly overruled by Land and Settlement permanent secretary Peter Shiyukah.
Mr Wanjigi was asked by Mr Shiyukah to compile a list of the VIPs, or “big shots” as he later described them — who had received such land.
“You said that you would want to send this (list) for the President’s retention,” wrote Wanjigi in the covering letter dated January 22, 1966.
These details show why the settlements went wrong from the beginning and why the land equation in the country was tilted in favour of those close to power.
But angry that government officials had started to allocate themselves development funds, and plots in schemes they had funded to settle the landless, the British Ministry of Overseas Development asked the High Commission in Nairobi to seek more details.
Original correspondence from the period highlights the misuse of power.
On June 18, 1965, a year after funds from the World Bank and CDC had been used on the Z-plots without their knowledge, the British High Commission in Nairobi wrote to Mr Shiyukah asking whether the proposal to set aside “some of the best farm houses….with a certain amount of surrounding land had been implemented”.
By the time Mr Neil Brockett of the High Commission was writing this, he knew already that some key politicians, including President Kenyatta had acquired land in the schemes.
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