Maasai: A Living Legacy
in harmony with nature...
We Maasai have lived in harmony within the rich ecosystems of East
Africa for centuries. In the balance of our ancestors found with
the natural environment, people shared the land with elephants,
giraffes, rhinoceros, and other majestic wildlife. We see ourselves
as custodians of the land, which to us is a sacred living entity.
The land contains our history; it is the keeper of our memories
and culture, and protector of our forefathers' bones. The Maasai
believe that the land is entrusted to the living for safekeeping,
to be passed on to future generations.
Devastated by triple disasters...
In the last decade of the 19th century, the Maasai were devastated
by triple disasters. Smallpox ravaged the people while our herds
fell victim to rinderpest, a disease of cattle. Both diseases
were introduced by European colonists who partitioned the land
into British Kenya and German Tanganyika. The two regimes implemented
policies of land alienation and cultural annihilation against
the Maasai. When Kenya and Tanzania attained independence in
the early 1960's, the new African states inherited these policies
from their colonial predecessors.
Maasai culture and wildlife of Maasailand are endagered...
Today, the triple disasters' effects are evident in attitudes,
policies, and actions that continue to devastate Maasailand. The
Maasai people have been systematically driven off our traditional
lands in the wake of economic development, irresponsible tourism,
large-scale farming, and other activities that destroy wildlife
Loss of traditional land tenure alienates Maasai people from our
land and culture. Through MERC, a broad spectrum of Maasai grassroots
groups is working to reclaim our land rights and our culture, with
its traditional respect for Maasailand and its wildlife.
"It is not possible for a free man to catch a glimpse
of the great elephant herds roaming the vast spaces of Africa
without taking an oath to do whatever is necessary to preserve
forever this living splendor."
~ Romain Gary: Roots of Heaven