Kaya Elders warn Kaya forest ending existence

Some seniors in Rabai, Kilifi County, are worried and on the brink. Elder councils called Kayas have protected holy woodlands for many years.

The Kayas are regarded as the spiritual home of the Mijikenda people and their ancestors. Since Covid-19 began, residents have turned the woodlands to farm, extract sand, and burn charcoal.

Elders have condemned people who misuse natural resources for their personal advantage and damage biodiversity.

Young jobless guys restricted and assaulted anyone who opposed their acts. Kilifi Kaya elders' chairman Daniel Garero stated their attempts to halt the invasion and bring the perpetrators to justice were futile.

Mzee Garero stated this puts their lives in jeopardy and that some teenagers have ganged together to "eliminate" them.

Mzee Garero said that kids were camping in the jungle wearing DERA to deceive elders. “The youngsters have vowed to murder us and are constantly equipped with bows and arrows while dressed in feminine clothes,” he added.

Kaya Bomu, Kaya Fimboni, and Kaya Mudzimuria are no longer protected as UNESCO World Heritage sites on the Coast.

He stated it was regrettable that municipal and county officials were destroying trees. Mzee Garero said patrols occasionally discover women.

“After they detect us patrolling, the ladies start screaming and running away, crying for aid, and a team of adolescents with bows and arrows emerges. He stated they search for strangers to assault.

Police are investigating. He stated farmers invaded Kaya Mzizima. The National Monument site at Mwawesa IS AT RISK.

Youth have also invaded Kaya Bomu, Kaya Mudzimuria, and Kaya Mudzimeru to sell charcoal.

"All major trees are chopped by kids for lumber, charcoal, and firewood and hauled on trucks and bodabodas," he claimed.

Mzee Garero said they tell cops when things are in transit, but nothing happens. Young people are gathering sand and chopping down trees in Kaya Bendeje.

Mr Garero claimed he wasn't frightened to die protecting the forest. " I'm not frightened to die today, but I don't want our Kaya woods to become part of history," he remarked.

Kaya elders and the community received a symbol from the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) to protect holy woodlands.

Financial difficulties impacted the conservation program, so the public stopped patrolling and left the load to the Kaya elders.

Mzee Garero said several officers lied about the Kaya trees in Rabai, claiming there was no invasion. Mzee Swafi Begaya claimed youngsters are arrogant and ignore elders regarding forest devastation.

“We're unhappy with the community's devastation of our Kaya woods and want the authorities to apprehend the criminals and safeguard our sole natural resources,” he stated.

Kenya's Covid-19 outbreak sparked invasions of Kaya woods, according to NMK Coast Forest Conservation Unit officer Lawrence Chiro.

“Many people lost their employment during the Covid-19 epidemic, and we're suffering a terrible drought, so the community has retreated into the forests,” he added.

"Youth have taken over women's firewood-cutting. They want massive trees for wood and charcoal. Sacred Kaya woodlands in Rabai and Kaloleni sub-county are being destroyed, he claimed.

Mr Chiro said Mombasa and other cities sell tonnes of forest timber, charcoal, and firewood. Financial constraints have hampered the department's functioning, he claimed.

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