It is likely that Uhuru Kenyatta will win the current election in Kenya. What he should do as a first focus of his administration is address practically the problem of landownership. His family has benefited from the trend in the post-colonial period of land consolidation in a few hands. Without pointing fingers, he should move to establish a constitutional committee to work out a means to restrict land holdings to a maximum size and create a mechanism for the transfer of excessive holdings to landless farmers and unemployed. Collective farms could be created to train the unemployed to work farms in a profitable fashion and then the farms could be devolved to the collective members if desired. Or the Group Ranch system could be combined with a collective farm educational process.
Kenya suffers from an unsustainable population growth that has mainly taken place in the post-WWII era. If we look at one of the areas least affected by population density in the pre-WWII era, for example, Loitokitok, a mainly Maasai area in the pre-WWII period, we find that most of the population growth was due to immigration from the central highlands. This has impacted the ecology of Loitokitok seriously with significant environmental degradation (David J. Campbell, David P. Lusch, Thomas A. Smucker, Edna E. Wangui, Human Ecology, Vol. 33, No. 6 (Dec., 2005), pp. 763-794). The Maasai adopted the concept of Group Ranches to protect their land and reduce overgrazing and legal challenges due to immigrant squatting on open grazing lands. This has worked fairly well in the savanna lowlands according to Campbell, et al., 2005). Grandin (Maasai herding - An analysis of the livestock production system of Maasai pastoralists in eastern Kajiado District, Kenya, eds, Solomon Bekure, P.N. de Leeuw, B.E. Grandin and
P.J.H. Neate, 1991: Chapter 3: the Maasai: Socio-historical context and group ranches) reports that in the area of highest density there were few Group Ranches, but the most Group Ranches appeared in Kaputiei where density was fairly low. Group Ranches had there origins according to Grandin (1991) in the early colonial period and Maasai lands have suffered continuous in-migration since then while considerable portions of traditional Maasai lands have been lost to migrants, especially Kikuyu and to the National Parks.
Some cultural practices drive population growth, an example is polygynous marriage (Polygyny among the Logoli of Western Kenya,: Edwins Laban Moogi Gwako, Anthropos, Bd. 93, H. 4./6. (1998), pp. 331-348). Population pressure is producing challenges for the future in tandem with climate change as drought is enhancing desertification in parts of Kenya, especially in the south in Kajiado District (The Prospect for Desertification in Kajiado District, Kenya: David J. Campbell, The Geographical Journal, Vol. 152, No. 1 (Mar., 1986), pp. 44-55).
Political and economic pressure will mount in Kenya unless the land issue is addressed in a fair and effective manner with special regard to Kenya's degrading lands. It is ironic that Uhuru's father, Jomo Kenyatta, pointed out the importance of land and its efficient distribution and use in his anthropological study of Kenya (Facing Mount Kenya, 1934). Uhuru Kenyatta has been attacked for the supposed vast land holdings of the Kenyatta family. Some sources claim the Kenyatta family owns between 500,0000 and 1 million acres (http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/...) which Uhuru denies. While claims and counter denials have multiplied during the election, the Kenyatta family has been successful in business and agriculture. Some have charged this is because of undue influence in government, others argue that the Kenyatta family, unlike many other Kenyan families has had no feuds since Jomo died and have remained together as a social unit (http://www.nairobiwire.com/...).
The problem of land titles and lack of land in the face of huge absentee landowners is especially acute on the coast. One means of achieving a fair distribution that would avoid an initial distribution and then later inefficient farming or quick sales for immediate profits fueled by speculators as has happened in other locations, would be the institution of the Group Ranch solution to the coast. But large tracts of land must be broken up and like institutional inequality in other nations, or the problem of breaking up large economic institutions like banks in the developed world, making this land available for Group Ranches would be a complicated process. The situation across the border in Tanzania is also conflicted with violence marring the relations between herders and farmers. Community-Based Natural Resource Management Area (CBNRM) named Emboley Murtangos, is a concept that has been tried to reduce conflict and relocate sqatters from pastoralist lands. It has had varied success (see Kelly Askew, Rie Odgaard and Faustin Maganga, "Of Land and Legitimacy: A Tale of Two Lawsuits," Africa, Volume 83, Special Issue 01 - Land Politics in Africa:
Constituting Authority over Territory, Property and Persons, February
2013, pp 120 - 141.).
Nevertheless, if Uhuru were to win now and announce land reform as a major project of his administration it could go far to defusing tensions. Without raising unrealistic expectations, such a move could focus attention on a severe problem facing Kenya and a land commission made up of all of Kenya's tribal groups might gain sufficient authority to succeed.