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Al Jazeera

Ngongongeri, Nakuru County, Kenya – Kenya’s Ogiek, an indigenous minority of hunters and gatherers, have won a historic case against the Kenyan government, close to a decade after they began their legal battle. 

The African Court on Human and People’s Rights, a continental court established in 2006 by African countries, on May 26 delivered its verdict in Arusha, Tanzania – ruling in favour of the Ogiek and recognising their right to Kenya’s Mau Forest as their ancestral home, and their role in protecting it.

The court ruled that the Kenyan government had violated seven articles of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, of which Kenya is a signatory, and which is intended to protect basic freedoms and human rights.

The verdict recognises the Ogiek’s indigenous status and their right to reparations from the Kenyan government for the suffering they have endured through forcible evictions. It recognises the Ogiek’s “strong attachment to the forest”, their legal right to live on the forest land, their freedom to practise their traditions and deemed evictions to be disproportionate to conservation aims. The Kenyan government in court said it accepted the judgment. 

“The room has never been so full. It was packed to the brink,” said Lucy Claridge, legal director of Minority Rights Group International (MRG), a campaign group working closely with the Ogiek. She has been working on the case since April 2010.

Speaking from Arusha, Claridge said around 75 Ogiek attended the court hearing, dressed in their traditional clothes. After the victorious judgment, the Ogiek broke out in celebratory singing and dancing. 

It is an unprecedented legal victory for an indigenous people in Africa. The ruling marks the first judgment from the highest institutional human rights body in Africa to favour the cause of indigenous peoples.

“This sends a message to governments of the standards around indigenous people’s rights in Africa,” says Claridge. “It’s a very clear message for governments that they need to respect indigenous people’s rights.”

The victory could set a precedent for similar cases across the continent.


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Al Jazeera

Roya Mahboob knew that she wanted to build a career in technology from the first time she set her eyes on a computer in the only internet cafe in Herat, Afghanistan, when she was 16 years old.

In 2010, at the age of 23 she became the first tech chief executive in Afghanistan when she founded Afghan Citadel Software (ACS) with the aim of involving more women in her country’s growing technology business.

“We are not thinking, we are not supposed to do critical thinking,” says Mahboob, discussing the way she and many women grew up in Afghanistan. 

Mahboob was born in Iran to Afghan parents as one of seven children. Her parents had travelled to Iran during the Soviet invasion, and the family moved back to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban government in 2003, where she began her university studies and learned English.

Along with some of her siblings, including her sister Elaha as her partner, Mahboob established ACS shortly after. 

“I think digital literacy can give women a voice in our global conversation. Then, they can find different skills and get their financial independence,” she says. Read More

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