Date Posted: October 15th, 2012
The Maasai are famous for being warriors, for their culture and pastoralist lifestyle, and for their distinctive red robes and adornments. Maasai live in Tanzania and Kenya, and are traditionally pastoralists, whose survival and wealth is closely tied to their cattle – and therefore their land. Cattle are everything to the Maasai – their identity, their egos, their wealth, their bank account, and, recently, their source of school fees. But cattle need pasture and water to survive. Since colonial times, the Maasai have been forced into areas which are ever drier, and are now losing this land too. With only tribal rights and no legal land titles, land is easily taken for other purposes. The Maasai feel t they are not being consulted and have no voice with which to defend their culture.
While some, like Raheli Kilaye, make the most of the opportunities that development brings, others lament the swift erosion of their culture and the increased difficulty in passing traditional land rights down the generations. Our first story shows that there is a real danger that the one tribe in Tanzania which has managed to retain its culture may now lose it, through the threat posed to their land.
For more information about Testigo Africa, the NGO which has been working in Longido for some years, and facilitated our trip, visit: www.testigoafrica.org
This news story from last year shows the extent of the threat to land in Longido:
-Tanzania: Hundreds Rush for Plots in Longido
At this link you can listen to and download an AgFax story on the Maasai in Kenya, and how climate change is bringing culture change: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=503
Previous FRW stories about the Maasai and pastoralism:
-Tanzania: Maasai women gain access to land (November 2010, FRW 133)
-Kenya: Maasai mothers conserve natural resources to educate their children (March 2012, FRW 192)
-East Africa: Pastoralists survive drought by adapting (May 2010, FRW 110) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/05/10/2-east-africa-pastoralists-survive-drought-by-adapting-daily-nation-irin/
In 2005, Farm Radio International produced this script about the droughts in 2000 which severely affected Maasai communities in Kenya. Read how some Maasai began to work with camels:
-Camels provide farmers in drylands with milk and income (Package 76, Script 6, October 2005) http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/76-6script_en.asp
Farm Radio International has also produced scripts on how people adapt their livestock-rearing practices in order to maintain their livelihoods in the face of uncertain weather patterns:
-Livestock management practices to cope with climate change (Package 84, Script 7, August 2008) http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/84-7script_en.asp
-The role of native breeds in maintaining livestock health: Story ideas for the radio (Package 63, Script 3, April 2002) http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/63-3script_en.asp
We hope the two stories in this issue inspire your radio programming. How has your local region changed in the last 20 years? What kinds of changes have you and your listeners experienced – more schools, increased urbanization, new crop varieties, better access to telephones, or electricity? Have the developments always been welcome? What are the positive and negative aspects of change and its effects on local cultures? How do these changes affect men and women farmers differently?