The agitation for parts of Kenya to secede has moved to the High Court with two residents filing a petition seeking the autonomy of western Kenya.
In the petition filed at the Constitutional Division of the High Court, Mr Mathew Okwanda Mwilitsa and Mr Alex Misigo Matisa are asking the court to let the people of what used to be Eastern Province of Uganda under the colonial rule to decide their political future in a referendum.
“The petitioners are personally and on behalf of their community urging the honourable court to be pleased to grant the people occupying the territory formerly known as the Eastern Province of Uganda leave to hold a referendum so as to exercise their right to determination in terms of their rights to nationality, territorial integrity, economic, social and culture as a people,” the petition states.
They have sued the governments of Uganda, Kenya and Britain for destabilising the once united Abaluhya kingdom.
Mr Mwilitsa is from Kakamega County while Mr Matisa lives in Vihiga County.
“The inhabitants of the former Eastern Province of Uganda were between the years 1895 – 1962 a distinct, cohesive, homogeneous and a united community under the able leadership of their King Nabongo Mumia, whose territorial jurisdiction spread from Jinja in present-day Uganda to Kijabe with the boundary being at Susua in the then British East Africa Protectorate (now Kenya),” the petition further states.
According to the petitioners, the colonial government declined to heed to demands by the Abaluhya community to have their own kingdom during the Lancaster House Talks in the United Kingdom that led to Kenya’s Independence in 1963.
It is the petitioners’ case that the Luhya community was part of Uganda and their land was given to the then British East African Protectorate, now Kenya, against their wish.
“The official representatives of the dominant group occupying the Eastern Province of Uganda being the entire Abaluhya Community comprising the Wanga Kingdom voiced their concern in writing of their planned merger,” Mr Mwilitsa states in an affidavit.
He argues the said merger was meant to destroy their cultural and social fabric, which was well knit under the leadership of the able king of the Abaluhya.
Though the Abaluhya leaders voiced their concern in writing to the Lancaster House Conference Talks on Kenya’s Independence in 1960, their pleas have been ignored to date by subsequent governments.
“The merger of the former Eastern Province of Uganda with the British East Africa Protectorate was illegal, and the same violated the United Nations Charter and the United Nations Governing Assembly Resolution No. 1514 (XV) of 14 thDecember, 1960.
“The Government of the United Kingdom by design failed to resolve the Abaluhya Question when it was in a position to do so before granting independence to the British East Africa Protectorate; and therefore liable to pay reparations for the anguish and sorrow suffered by the said community to date,” the petition states.
Since the merger and after independence, the petition says Luhyas suffered severe discrimination, and victimisation in job allocation and general development funding.
“The community has similarly been marginalised economically, socially, culturally and politically and in the end the community has been given a derogatory tag as being ‘professional cooks and watchmen’”.
The petitioners are asking the court to compel the Government of the United Kingdom to pay reparations to the Abaluyia Community for randomly and arbitrarily placing them in Kenya, and for failing to resolve their question and petition before granting independence to the former East Africa Protectorate, now Kenya.
They want the court to declare that the inhabitants of the former Eastern Province of Uganda are at liberty in making their free choice of their territorial integrity without external force or intimidation and that Article 15 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the right to nationality, self-determination and territorial integrity applies to their petition.