The Ogiek community in Mt.Elgon have received some good news as the Mt Elgon Ogiek Ndorobo Council of Elders Association (MEONCE) was formally registered on 31st October 2022. MEONCE is a legal entity composed of clan chairmen from the 32 clans of the Ogiek community of Mt Elgon. Its main objective is to promote cultural values, conservation, community rights, advocacy, economic empowerment and mediations in intra and extra conflicts.
MEONCE has played a significant role in community leadership for some time but has not been formally recognized. The registration process took a long time due to multiple consultations between the government and the community. The certificate was finally received on 11th March 2023 by the elders at Chepyuk, in a joyful meeting that brought together elders from Somek, Koony and the Ogiek. “The ceremony is a transition to formal recognition”, the chairperson Takur said.
The association is composed of the following office bearers: Chairperson – Johnson Cheprot Takur, Vice Chairman – Philip Chesongir Andrea, Secretary – Stanley Kimtai Toboi, Assistant Secretary – Janet Chemutai Kipsum and Treasurer – Cosmas Chemwotei Murunga. They will serve for the next three years after which there will be an election.
In the meeting, many pertinent issues that affect the community were raised with a key focus on education and forest conservation. The Ogiek of Chepkitale recently regained part of their land and conservation was highly emphasized. The DCC Kopsiro, Champton Wachira, urged the elders to guide the youth on culture and encouraged parents to take their children to school. “Let’s end backward cultural practices like FGM. Let’s work together to identify and apprehend charcoal burners and poachers”, he added. The event comes after a recent community achievement where Chepkitale was declared a location and the first chief appointed in January.
The government has been reluctant to implement projects in Mt. Elgon and its environs because they considered the region hostile. That has changed because of the elders from Kony, Somek, Bok, Bong’omek and Ogiek have agreed to bury their differences and thus brought peace to the region. Through MEONCE, the elders promised to work with other communities and promote regional development for the benefit of all.
Objectives of MEONCE
- To maintain, protect, revive and restore culture of the Ogiek community
- To unify the Ogiek community of Mt.Elgon region
- To promote peace and peaceful co-existence amongst ourselves and the neighboring communities
- To promote conservation and sustainable use of available natural resources
- To present and represent the community interests in relevant forums
- To promote non-political activities at all time
- To provide a platform for representation of members’ interests and opinions.
The registration of MEONCE is a significant step in the recognition of the Ogiek community’s cultural values, conservation efforts and advocacy for community rights. This formal recognition will also enable the Ogiek community to have a voice in relevant forums and promote peace and peaceful co-existence among themselves and neighboring communities.
CIPDP supported the council in making its constitution and also helped them get a certificate from the registrar of societies. It will further aid them in setting up an office in Chepyuk and Chepkitale. Takur hopes that elders from neighboring communities can follow suit in taking charge of their communities’ leadership so that cultural identity is maintained.