In Summary
  • Mr Korir says she only wanted one acre to till and feed her children but her family was incensed and flat refused.
  • She called in community arbitrators but they family would not budge.
  • Frustrated, she filed a case in court and enjoined her five sisters - all of them married.

For over 40 years, she fought in vain to be allocated just one out 42 acres of the family land which she wanted to till and feed her children.

She was not only denied the small piece of land and barred from practicing any form of farming but also faced an eviction from the property at the tail end of 1999.

EVICTION

Going against the grain and all expectations, she took the bull by the horn and filed a case in court on behalf of five of her sisters — all married — demanding a share of the family estate.

It was a journey literally paved with thorns that Mrs Rachel Korir, a mother of seven and the third-born in a family of eight, has had to endure to get her rights.

This rural struggle for land ownership took place at their Kapchebo village in Bureti Consituency, Kericho County. 

Ms Korir’s mother died in 2006 and her father six years later but the fight to get just a small piece of land to till started way back.

“This is a journey that started in the 1970s when my father Joel Korir and my two brothers — Samwel Kiplangat and Joshua Cheruiyot — barred me from tilling part of the land to feed my children,” Mrs Korir said.

In 1999, there was an attempt to kick her out of the family land because she was married, and as such, the family reasoned she should not inherit part of her father’s estate.

'NOT DESERVING'

“I only wanted them to allow me to use one out of the 42 acres, but they were adamant that I did not deserve it. I called in my uncles to arbitrate on the matter but still my family members did not budge and I moved to court to challenge their decision,” said Mrs Korir

First, she had to convince her sisters that the only way to get justice was to file a case in court in what was seen to be an affront against the Kipsigis community’s tradition and beliefs on inheritance.

She took it upon herself to file the case and enjoined her five sisters: Esther Korir, Alice Korir, Jane Ruto, Elizabeth Sang and Sarah Rotich.

Kericho

From left: Sisters Rachel Korir, Alice Korir and Esther Korir, from Cheborgei in Kericho County, who won a case allowing them and three other sisters to inherit their father’s land amid protests. Alice died in 2015, two years before the ruling was delivered. PHOTO | ANITA CHEPKOECH | NATION MEDIA GROUP

At one time she contemplated suicide but was talked out of it by Ms Naomi Lanoi, the head of Women Lands Rights at the Kenya Lands Alliance and whose organisation partnered with Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida) to offer legal services for the six women.

“At one point, I could not manage the stress that came with the case and the tribulations I had been subjected to over the years. I repeatedly thought of taking my own life to end the misery,” said Mrs Korir in an interview.

She added: “But after sharing the issues with Ms Lanoi and others, I got convinced that suicide was not an option out of the problems. I am glad that I have lived to see and enjoy the fruits of my struggle.”

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