How does ownership of land resonate?

The lust for proprietorship has led to the loss of countless lives in expensive endless wars over the centuries

How does ownership of land resonate?

The lust for proprietorship has led to the loss of countless lives in expensive endless wars over the centuries

‘Trespassers will be prosecuted’. ‘Plot for Sale’. The former sentence is now a fashionable disclaimer with showboating landowners and other genuine cautioners trying to protect this greatly valued asset called land. The latter is yet another common invitation to prospective purchasers of land. Some are entitled to plenty. Like the world’s largest landowner, the custodian of over 29 million acres, Gina Rinehart in Australia. For Leo Tolstoy, perhaps only six by four feet is enough.     

 At the beginning of the twenty first century, the newly elected government in the 2002 general election held in Kenya commissioned an Inquiry into the illegal or irregular allocation of land that was published in a 2004 Report. The content of this report was reiterated in the Truth Justice & Reconciliation Commission Report (TJRC), published in 2013. All of these efforts were set in place to unravel the cause of cyclical violence experienced in nearly all general elections in Kenya. Indeed both reports revealed that the lust for proprietorship has led to the loss of countless lives in expensive endless wars over the centuries in our communities.

What is land ownership anyway? ‘Land’ is one of the oldest words in the lexicon. It was first recorded in the tenth century. Given that the English word land is older than ‘sea’, and we know the Earth has more sea than land; Simon Winchester, the enduring writer on this subject posits that in fact we should call our planet ‘Ocean’, because of the rapidity with which we are sinking. The horror of global warming, which hovers over every page, undermines the argument that land is the only thing of value that can ever really last.

Land means borders

In perspective, land means borders. Some borders are ancient and natural, such as the Himalayas, but most are manmade and fashioned in the 19th and 20th centuries. Winchester further outlines this in numerical fashion: 50,000 miles of extra borders were agreed upon in the first two decades of the 20th century; there are currently 317 land borders in the world, covering something like 154,000 miles; the longest — at 5,525 miles — is between Canada and the United States.                                                                                                                              

Winchester bought 123 acres of wooded mountainside in Wassaic village of Armenia, the town of Dover, the country of Dutchess, the state of New York, the country of America. This was his first land ownership. The original inhabitants of his land were the Mohicans who were later expelled by the Dutch. The land was also owned, in the titular sense, by Charles II, James II, Mary II, William III and Georges I, II and III, and had passed ownership through various farmers and Sicilian immigrants.

Winchester helpfully discusses the injustices of private ownership, and on the irony that his English forebears, dispossessed of their own land by the enclosures of the 17th and 18th centuries, also relocated to America where they, in turn, dispossessed the indigenous people of their land. The author asks, ‘an entity which, in truth, cannot possibly be owned, by anyone, ever’, that generates such greed and passion? What does it mean to ‘love’ the land, to lose your land, to respect the land, to ‘rewild’ the land, to parcel land up and put hedges around it, or to have a community buy-out of land, as recently happened to the 4,500 acres of the Scottish island of Ulva?

Land has a special significance and so special formalities are required to transfer of an interest in land and eventually confer ownership in a valid Certificate of Title to be held by a party as evidence that the person registered thereon is the absolute proprietor of the suit land. However, we know in a world of treachery, deceit and human frailty sometimes things would go terribly wrong. You may end up being a valueless paper owner. And evicted instantly. A homeless beggar. Or lose your life savings and face bankruptcy.

We all deserve a trusted professional to secure a genuine land deal. As Martin Luther King Jr once said, “it is always the right time to do the right thing”. Don’t hesitate to engage us to demystify the land buying process and hack an unshakeable title to land ownership.

 This News alert is provided for general information purposes only; the opinions expressed and arguments employed herein are of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views of Kubwa & Co Advocates. Be sure to seek specific legal advice on the subject matter. If you have any query regarding the same, please do not hesitate to contact kubwa@kubwaadvocates.com; or info@kubwaadvocates.com

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Yuvenalis Kubwa is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya.

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