AMOS MPAKA: A DEFENDER OF MINORITY RIGHTS
AMOS OLE MPAKA / “The total population of the Illichamus community is about 45,000. We live as if we have no rights and for many years not even the government would recognize us.”
AMOS ole Mpaka ferried a goat from Baringo to the High Court in Nairobi and paraded it as part of evidence in a case his Illchamus community has filed against the state.
It is Mpaka who sued the state on behalf of the community, seeking damages for the damage caused by the Mathenge weed planted by the state in Baringo to help curb desertification.
The weed has caused extensive health and environmental problems for both the people and animals in parts of the county.
“We brought the goat to Nairobi so that the judge could fully understand the harm caused by the weed to livestock in Baringo,” says Mpaka, spokesman of the Illichamus community.
“The goat lost its teeth as an effect of eating the weed.”
Ole Mpaka also blames the weed for poisonous substances that have led to some residents of Baringo having their legs amputated.
“The total population of the Illichamus community is about 45,000. We live as if we have no rights and for many years not even the government would recognize us.”
Ferrying the goat to court cast ole Mpaka as the preeminent crusader for the rights of minority groups who still suffer from marginalisation in every respect, including political representation.
But it has not been easy, as he has gone through threats, intimidation and even physical assault because of his stand on the rights of minorities.
He began his activism while at Tenges High School, when bandits attacked the community at Makutani, killed more than 10 people and drove away a large stock of livestock.
“I decided that I would stand for the rights our people, animals and plants along with all minority groups.”
He was recognised by elders who sold their goats and cattle as a contribution to help him run for the Baringo South seat in 2007.
“The elders wanted me in Parliament so that I could effectively fight for their rights,” he says. He lost but he has not given up the fight and will still vie for the same seat next year.
Ole Mpaka has mostly focused on peace and reconciliation through the Rift Valley Youth for Peace and Development group, where he is the chairman.
He is also a commissioner of the Catholic Peace and Justice Commission, where he crusades for peace through mobilisation of youth in the region.
“THE ELDERS WANTED ME IN PARLIAMENT SO THAT I COULD EFFECTIVELY FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHTS,”