Foreign Landlords to Render 50,000 Families Homeless in New Auction Plan

  • An aerial view of Mombasa Town
    An aerial view of Mombasa Town
  • Over 50,000 Mombasa families are on the verge of living on the streets if a reported threat by Omani kin to sell their homes is actualised.

    A report by one of the local dailies indicated that the families were living in fear after reports emerged that the landlords, who are based in the Middle East, were seeking to auction the property.

    The families, who have been living on the parcels of land for the past 50 years, had entered an agreement with the Omani and were classified as tenants-at-will which is a system that works in the Coast Region.

    In the system, the families live on the land that is not technically their own and pay annual rates to the landlords who live in the Middle East.

    Some of the houses in Mwembekuku in Mombasa County.
    Some of the houses in Mwembekuku in Mombasa County.
    The Standard

    The families who occupied the parcels that were owned by the Omani had reportedly been paying their rent until 2007 when they are said to have stopped.

    The Coastal land system has remained a thorn in the flesh of the government.

    Past governments failed to settle the families' woes, instead leaving residents to settle the matter through negotiations with the foreign landlords. 

    Most occupants do not know their landlords and only deal with their agents.

    Some of the affected areas include Bondeni, Mwembekuku, Mji wa Kale, Kaloleni, Sparki, Majengo Sidiria, Sarigoi, Guraya, Kiziwi and Ziwani.

    Others are Maweni village in Nyali, Mnarani in Kilifi, Mambrui in Malindi and Old Town on Lamu Island.

    “We are not living there for commercial reasons; these are our ancestral homes where our people were for centuries but they now want to uproot us,” decried one resident from the region.

    Most tenants stopped paying the rates in 2007 after the then Lands Minister Kivutha Kibwana ordered them to stop after negotiations collapsed.

    The tenants are now appealing to President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and bring an end to the agreement which they insist is a social injustice.

    History of the Omani in Kenya

    The Omani replaced the Portuguese as the rulers of the East African coast after the capture of fort Jesus in 1698.

    At the time, new rulers administered the region through some Arab families, the Mazrui (Mazaria) family which ruled Mombasa and the Nabahan Family which ruled Lamu.

    The civil wars that rocked the Arabs at the time made it hard for the Omani Arabs to control the coast immediately.

    The Omani wanted to control the coast in order to obtain revenue from taxes levied on trade as well as maintain their independence as they were during the Portuguese rule.

    Makueni governor Kivutha Kibwana
    Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana