This marginalized community of some 7,000 people lives on the Athi-Kapiti plains just south of Nairobi National Game Park in Kenya. Their livelihood is focused on livestock which functions as a "bank account" when money is scarce. Their very existence is threatened by the spreading city, by dire poverty and by the forced sale of their grazing lands in order to survive. Without grazing land, a Maasai cannot keep cattle and without cattle, he is not a Maasai. The loss of land leads to loss of identity, culture, tradition and community.
The loss of land also causes havoc to the wildlife population of the Athi-Kapiti plains, which is a dispersal and breeding area for many species of animals that live in the Nairobi National Game Park, and form part of the essential migratory corridor for animals moving to and from the Serengeti in Tanzania and Maasai Mara in Kenya. The Maasai are a vital element in this equation as they are natural conservationists who do not hunt but live peacefully alongside wildlife and possess irreplaceable knowledge about each species’ habits.
With its familiar umbrella shape, the acacia tree that dots the plains of Kenya provides food, shade and a welcoming arena for both wildlife and human beings. A hardy species, it survives drought, flood and even fire.
Moyo is the Kiswahili word for "heart."
We work with the Maasai community of Kitengela in Kenya to develop sustainable sources of income alongside traditional pastoralism. We hope that - just like the acacia tree - our teamwork will enable the people of this community to withstand whatever obstacles may come their way, be it climate change or severe drought, cultural poverty or political unrest, and to maintain their balance between their cultural traditions and the modern world.
It is this relationship with the natural world that must be seen as “sustainable development” and is therefor worthy of preservation. We can no longer view their efforts as distant and unrelated to “our” world but must instead recognize their knowledge as intrinsic to our own survival and start to build new knowledge alongside them that can sustain life for all.
ACACIA MOYO - WHERE TRADITION MEETS TECHNOLOGY is fiscally sponsored by Creative Visions Foundation (CVF). CVF is a publicly supported 501c3, which supports Creative Activists who use the power of media and the arts to affect positive change in the world.