By: Shadrack Kavilu
Date: July 31st 2016
KITENGELA, Kenya, July 31(Thomson Reuters Foundation) - It's just before sunset, the time of day when Maasai herdsman Josphat Ole Tonkei would have been counting his herd of cows after hours in the grazing fields, a few years ago.
Today Tonkei must wait until darkness to perform the check. The routes to grazing fields and water points have been blocked and he has to take a long, alternative route to reach his "Manyatta", or homestead, where he counts his herd.
An area that for years provided grazing ground for his cows has been built over with commercial properties and gated communities, leaving him and other herdsmen with no choice but to walk long distances in search of pasture and water.
He is not sure how pastoralists' communal grazing land has passed into the hands of private developers.
"We don't know who sells our land to private developers. We only realise it has been sold when we see them erecting concrete fences and putting up structures," Tonkei said.
Tonkei is among Maasai herdsmen reeling from the impact of rapid urbanisation that is encroaching into the plains of Kitengela town, around 30 km (18 miles) south of the capital Nairobi.