Wives forÂ hireÂ have invadedÂ NarokÂ County and are being used to transact multi-million illegalÂ land-deals that have left many familiesÂ landless in the past few months.
Investigations by The County Weekly have unearthed an intricateÂ landÂ transaction scandal in which cunning Maasai menÂ hireÂ women to act as theirÂ wivesÂ while secretly selling off familyÂ land.
No arrests have been made since the victims do not report to police for fear of revenge attacks from their spouses. Everline Dikirr, a mother of five said she discovered her husband had sold their entire 100-acre farm at Naireki Enkare when a new owner came and evicted her with her five children last year.
She said efforts to follow legal channels were fruitless as minutes from theÂ lands control board showed that I had consented to the sale of the familyÂ landÂ yet she had not been informed about it by her husband.
â€œI was shocked when I went to the Land board to report that my husband had sold familyÂ landwithout my consent only to be shown an affidavit filed and bearing my names,â€ she said.
She said all the time, her husband left home and lived inÂ NarokÂ town without explaining to her what was happening.â€œI was fighting a losing battle because the affidavit bore my names and I was told to go sort out my issues with my husband who was now not coming home,â€ she said.
Dejected and no place to live because the new owner gave her notice to leave, Ms Dikirr sought refuge at her cousinâ€™s home, Jackline.
â€œThese women forÂ hireÂ are making life difficult for the realÂ wives. They are given proceeds of the sell and they take up our place and once the transaction goes through, they are paid their fee,â€ she said.
Another victim, Gladys Enekarbolo from Melili in Mau zone says her husband sold the 20-acre familylandÂ without her consent after presenting a woman to theÂ lands control board as his wife.
â€œThat is how our familyÂ landÂ went and now I have been kicked out of it while my husband left home and I do not know where he is,â€ said Ms Gladys, a mother of five.
She said she suspected something was amiss when she started seeing people building on part of their parcel ofÂ land. â€œOur culture demands that we do not question our husbandsâ€™ decisions and their word is always final,â€ she explained.
She said she was shocked when the man said he negotiated for theÂ landÂ with the man and a lady he always introduced as his wife. â€œThe man produced documents bearing my name and that of her husband consenting to the sale of theÂ land. I was dumbfounded,â€ she said. She now resides at Kibangas inÂ NarokÂ with her family members.
Investigations showed that these women were just a fraction of the many women who had lost their familyÂ landÂ to the new racket.
Women activists are now challenging the Ministry of Lands to move and investigate the matter and return all theÂ lands fraudulently sold by members of the racket.
They also want the culprits and their fakeÂ wivesarrested and charged with fraud. â€œIt is sad that this racket has been going on for a long time without the Government realising it,â€ said Lucia Teeka, a nominated Member ofÂ NarokÂ County Assembly.
Ms Teeka adds that some Maasai women had been turned into paupers after their husbands secretly sold their familyÂ land. A big number of women victims of such cases have found their new homes at a rescue centers offered by churches and Non Governmental Organisations.
Pauline Kinyarkwo, a womenâ€™s rights activist says the Lands Boards were to blame for the scandal because of lack of representation by marginalised groups such as women.
â€œWe have raised these issues but our efforts have been rebuffed,â€ she told The County Weekly.
Lucy Sadera, the chairperson of Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation told a recent workshop that the community should not complain of being marginalised by other communities because it still practiced archaic traditions that belittled women.
Ms Sadera asked the Lands Commission to help end theÂ land-buying cartels in the county.
â€œThe commission should save the community from being squatters in their ownÂ land. It should put ceiling on the size ofÂ landÂ one should own because our areas have become slums where people are selling small parcels to maximise on profits,â€ she added.