I was born and bred in the cradle of Endorois tribe; near Lake Bogoria in a place called Sandai. The Endorois is agro-pastoralist Indigenous Tribe in central Rift Valley in Kenya.
Learning about the rich cultural heritage as an Endorois has been a phenomenal journey. I have come a long way in the realization of my identity and in my community work, both locally, regionally and internationally. I am fully immersed in my peoples’ lives. History with our land rights. Spirituality. Heritage. Current plights. It is overwhelming, but then again, the sense of belonging is satisfying even in the contemporary world where being indigenous is looked down upon.
Being a media enthusiast with a mission to advance social justice, I am in the process of building my capacity to be able to champion Endorois cultural heritage, preserving and transmitting the story of my people, and become an advocate for peace, justice and unity thereby committing myself to the core values of my ancestors’ way of life.
To advance this course, I contribute to and produce multimedia projects; skills that have enabled me to document oral history, as myself and my colleagues have begun to capture the vast knowledge of our tribe. We are engaging ourselves in social, cultural, ecological and economic developments in Endorois land.
Most people all over the world know of the landmark case won by the Endorois at the African Commission (ACHPR) against the Kenyan government. It’s been almost a decade yet our people are yet to get even the low-hanging fruits of the recommendations. Regrettably, there’s been a disconnect and synergy among several actors on how to push for the implementation of the ruling. Personally, as I have stated above I am building my capacity together with fellow youth and seeking the wisdom and counsel of our elders who have borne the brunt of this fight, clearly exhibiting the plight of the Endorois post-African court ruling. There is hope because the young generation in my community is beginning to join the fight.
Together with other Indigenous Youth leaders here in Kenya, notably from Ogiek, Samburu, Maasai, and Sengwer, we are at a consultative stage in forming an Indigenous Youth outfit so as to speak and act in one voice as we advance the indigenous peoples’ rights movement. The challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples’ in Kenya are cross-cutting in nature. From the hunters and gatherers tribes of Ogiek and Sengwer to the pastoralist Maasai, Endorois, and Samburu, the main issues are collective land rights, marginalization, and forceful evictions.
Coming together with one voice as Indigenous Youths, means that our energy, power, and unity will yield fruits. It will send a message out there.
I have been able to reach out to, and make contact with other Indigenous Youth in Africa who are also facing serious human rights violations in their communities. The Mbororo in Cameroon, Batwa in Rwanda and Burundi, Khoi of South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, Somali in Ogaden region of Ethiopia, the Amazigh of North Africa and the Ogoni of Nigeria in West Africa. There’s been little in coordination but a lot has been going on to organize ourselves for a united African Indigenous Youth. It is my belief that the challenges faced by the youth in these communities will unite us for a common purpose.
At UN Global Indigenous Youth Caucus (GIYC), I have to tell you my story – actually the only way I only can! I had never heard of Global Indigenous Youth Caucus, certainly not by design because I had never attended the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) since its inception in 2006. In January 2018, I was privileged to be among the few beneficiaries of the United Nations Voluntary Fund who attended the UNPFII17 at UN headquarters in New York, USA.
A week before the start of the session, I had also applied and got invited to attend the phenomenal Project Access Training Program by Tribal Link Foundation, and this is where the story begins! I credit Tribal Link’s Executive Director, Ms. Pamela Kraft who made sure that I was granted US Visa which (I had been denied, one week to the training. So you can imagine what sort of interventions she made!). At Project Access Training, we were taught UN System and how to apply various mechanisms and frameworks towards Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights. By the end of the training, I knew so much about UNPFII as well as everything around and about it – certainly including Global Indigenous Youth Caucus. I had my mentor and brother, Victor Anthony Lopez-Carmen who made sure that the potential in me (most of these capabilities I wasn’t even aware of) was realized. Thank you, Victor! Your brilliance, intellect, and measure of leadership are immense.
I attended my first GIYC meeting at Taipei Economic & Cultural Building on Sunday 15th, April 2018 and for every day throughout the week at the UN Secretariat building, listening and getting to know everything and anything about GIYC. It was a lot of information to process considering the fact that I was totally a novice in all this UN experience. By the time nominations and elections were done for Focal Points and Co-Chairs, I was just amazed at the energy and determination in the leadership of Indigenous Youth. Everyone was focused at the statements that were to be read at the Permanent Forum, and the GIYC agenda for this year. To me, it was impressive and it felt great to be part of this movement.
I am glad to be part of the leadership of GIYC together with Nivi and Qhapaj as co-chairs. I get to understand a lot. I have to read a lot, and I absolutely love it. The Working Groups are doing a tremendous job. From the upcoming Book Project with Columbia University, the Global Indigenous Youth Consultative Forum to Eliminate Hunger to the GIYC website, I am proud to be part of this generation of Indigenous Youth that is determined to tell their story out there.
We need to make our voice louder, we have to tell our story as Indigenous Youth!
Kibett C. Kiburo
Co-chair of the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus