IS PASTORALISM UNDER THREAT?

IS PASTORALISM UNDER THREAT?

Sahara Abdi  

Pastoralism is our way of life, it is who we are as people, our identity. We just don’t move with our animals looking for water and pasture as many people think, we move strategically. We send out young men to find about a place before we move with our livestock, says Mr. Halake, an Isiolo resident.
Recently some white people came to live on our land and introduced something they call conservation. They say we are a threat to the wild animals, and take the animals to fenced places.
Wildlife has been part of us for centuries, our forefathers coexisted with them, we even had a time table to take our livestock for watering to the rivers. We could only take them after 6am and before 4pm, so that we give the wild animals time to graze, hunt and drink water.
For a white person who has not lived with animals for even half a century to come and point a finger at our relationship with animals, it is very unfortunate.
We have praise songs for lions, Elephants, Giraffes, crocodiles, how do we people who have naming ceremonies, and name their children after these animals, turn and become an enemy to them? How do we who consider some snakes sacred, turn and kill them? Poses, Mr. Halake.
“I think these white people want to settle on our land, and the only thing they can say about us is how much we are a threat to the wildlife, so that they get to fence everywhere and make us landless in the end”, he concludes.

“There is an ongoing silent war on land issue in Northern Kenya, a ticking time bomb, says Abdirahman, a youth resident of Isiolo. The issue of conservation is talked about with equal measure of love and hate. The most apparent question we the local communities keep asking is who the land is been conserved for if its access and usage is limited to non-locals who run it?
Why an arid poor man’s land is getting so much attention to conserve remains a mystery to us, and why the conservationists give little information to the public makes them lose touch with the us people.
Access to the conservancies remains to be a priority to a few, and this leads to many questions than answers.
Is conservation the new model to scramble for pastoral’s land?
Do we the pastoralists, owners of the land have a voice in conservation, he wonders?

Sahara is a social activist and Founder Director of Northern Voice Trust

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