Kenya: An Ogiek woman's journey to liberation

My story is a tale of twists and turns.

When I sit down and recall my journey, I could not have anticipated, given my childhood which was full of hardships, that I today would be among those who can garner the courage to stare injustice straight in the face and say, enough.

As an Ogiek girl child, accessing education was the last thing on my and everyone's mind but, unsurprisingly, marriage was a welcome practice that everyone would gladly accept in exchange for a handful of honey.

Ideally, my kinsmen did not see beyond the honey but I saw hope in education and despite the cultural logs placed in my way, I was determined to go all the way.

My battle to secure an education right from primary to Masters Level would not have been possible without sponsorship. My sponsors, who were amazed by my sterling performance in school, supported me through Kabarak University where I pursued a degree in Commerce. And it is this education which would later change my life from poverty to the person I am today.

Biggest problem is that not many of my folks can access scholarships. They are simply not a sustainable way to offer opportunities to a whole community. Someone, especially government, has got to take responsibility and offer these services. Nobody is doing anyone a favour. The government has responsibility to protect and provide for our communit, just as the community has the right to demand this of the government.

It is the dire condition of the majority of my community members that drives my ambition after school to ensure that we liberate our people, especially the youth, to embrace education for a sustainable future.

One of the reasons the government has been able to get away with a lot of these excesses and glaring exclusion is because our community is highly illiterate and prone to exploitation.

Importantly, even amongst us, there are detrimental cultural practices that have prevented us from discovering our full potential. For instance, circumcision is still the order of the day, which every girl must pass through to be accepted and valued in the community.

My kinsmen still see women as inferior to men and as such can’t fully explore the role women can play to supplement men to cause the much needed changes, faster.

For this reason, we have started running a project dubbed In circles, which focuses on lending a hand to help another one. Its aim is to support someone to ensure that they are able to go to school by providing access to facilities like sanitary towels, mentorship etc.

It is a collective responsibility to get our communities out of abject poverty.

I call for support from all over the world to join hands with the Ogiek community to help their children access education.

Gallery

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Ogiek woman
 MRG-GAL-2385
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Ogiek children
 MRG-GAL-2386
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Date: 22/02/2012

Countries:

Kenya

Categories:

Culture and Tradition
Violence/Conflict
Poverty
Indigenous Peoples
Law/Legislation
Advocacy
Education
Women/Gender
Land Rights

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

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Name: MAUREEN BII

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