Situation of the Kipsigis tribe; any political affiliations; reports of harassment by government and/or other tribes [KEN37423.E]

The Kipsigis is one of the larger Kalenjin tribes (The Nation 13 Feb. 2000). Originally from the surrounding districts of Bomet, Kisii, Narok, Migori and Kuria (Pander 1995), they have been living in the Trans Mara region of the Rift Valley since 1949 (The Nation 2 July 2001). According to one report the Kipsigis "carry political clout" in both Trans Mara and Narok South (Daily Nation 15 April 2001).

Tensions between the Kipsigis and the Maasai, a tribe indigenous to the area, have risen since 1997, when the government started settling Kipsigis in areas the Maasai claim as their ancestral land (AP 5 March 1999; The Nation 13 Feb. 2000).

The Associated Press reported that in March 1999 Maasai warriors attacked members of the Kipsigis tribe who were employed in the Masai Mara Game Reserve (AP 26 Apr. 1999). Following the release, due to lack of evidence, of the 10 warriors suspected to have taken part in the attacks, their leader said that his men would continue attacking the Kipsigis in the game reserve "until they all leave our land" (ibid.).

According to the Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner, the main source of disagreement between the Maasai, who are generally pastoral, and the Kipsigis, who are primarily agricultural, is pastureland (Dateline ACT 2000). Maasai herds strayed on Kipsigis farms, leading to violence (ibid.).

Reports of clashes between the Kipsigis and the Maasai have increased, particularly around Mulot in Narok South, and relations between the two are tense in Trans Mara as well (Daily Nation 15 April 2001; The Standard 23 Aug. 2000).

Several members of the Kipsigis tribe have been involved with the Kenya African National Union (KANU) party, holding ministerial posts (The Nation 13 Feb. 2000). However, in February 2000 Kenya's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), John Koech, a Kipsigis and a former minister for Public Works and the Office of the President, was removed from his post by the government allegedly because of his opposition to "tribalism" in politics (ibid. 8 Feb. 2000).

A group of Kipsigis KANU leaders who support President Moi urged the president to seek a third term, even though this would go against the Constitution (ibid. 16 May 2001).

On 27 June 2001 Julius Sunkuli, a Minister in the Office of the President, told the Electoral Commission that the Kipsigis had no right to stay in the Trans Mara district (ibid. 2 July 2001). Five Trans Mara civic leaders criticized Sunkuli, saying that this statement could lead to bloodshed, particularly in the approach to a general election, which is scheduled for 2002 (ibid.; ibid. 16 May 2001).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


The Associated Press (AP). 26 April 1999. "Court Drops Charges Against 10 Suspects in Masai Mara Attacks." (NEXIS)

_____. 5 March 1999. "Two Kenyans Seriously Wounded in Ethnic Attacks in Masai Mara." (NEXIS)

Daily Nation [Nairobi]. 15 April 2001. Gitau Warigi. "Cabinet Ministers' War of Words: The Inside Story." [Accessed 10 July 2001]

Dateline ACT. May 2000. Martha Mbugguss. "Kenya is Caught in a Circle of Violence." [Accessed 11 July 2001]

The Nation [Nairobi]. 2 July 2001. "Sunkuli Taken to Task Over Tribal Remarks." [Accessed 9 July 2001]

_____. 16 May 2001. "Don't Shed Blood For Me, Says Moi." [Accessed 10 July 2001]

_____. 13 February 2000. Gitau Warigi. "New Twists and Turns in Politics of Kipsigis." [Accessed 9 July 2001]

_____. 8 February 2000. "Moi Sacks His UNEP Envoy." (NEXIS)

Pander, Heike. 1995. Land Tenure and Land Policy in the Transmara District, Kenya: Situations and Conflicts. [Accessed 10 July 2001]

The Standard [Nairobi]. 23 August 2000. "Kenya: Five Injured, Hundreds Homeless After Tribal Clashes in Central Area." (FBIS-AFR-2000-0823 24 Aug.2000/WNC)

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

Africa Confidential 1997-2001

Africa Research Bulletin 1997-2001

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 1999


Keesing's Record of World Events 1997, 1999-2000

Political Handbook of the World 1997-1999



Internet sites including:

Africa Online

Amnesty International

BBC World Service

Derechos Human Rights

East African

East African Standard

Human Rights Watch

Index on Africa

Kenya Human Rights Commission