A Piece of One’s Past

Kenda Mutongi in Boston Review:

You need to do a police investigation,” wrote one of my siblings on our family group chat, “a thorough investigation.” On January 17, 2023, someone set fire to my brother Jumba’s five-acre sugarcane garden. Three days after the fire, my brother received a phone call informing him that thieves had gotten into his compound and broken the cement cover on his borehole and stolen the electric pump.

Jumba’s land is in western Kenya, about sixty miles from the village where we grew up. The area, known as the western highland plateau during the colonial period, was occupied by white settlers who confiscated land from the local Nandi people. After independence the land was redistributed to Kenyans but somehow Luyias (my family is Luyia) and Kikuyus ended up buying most of it, further displacing the original Nandi owners. Since the 1970s the Nandi people have intermittently fought these “outsiders” in attempts to reclaim their land; some of the ethnic tensions have resulted in the loss of life.

More here.