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nairobi nairobi National Game Park lies on the osuthern border of the city. The dark green line is the Mbagathi River. The Kitengela communit lives south of the river, all the way to the Tanzanian border. This area is known as the Kapiti plains. The city of Kitengela, with 300,000 inhabitants, is the fastest growing city in Kenya.National Game Park lies on the osuthern border of the city. The dark green line is the Mbagathi River. The Kitengela communit lives south of the river, all the way to the Tanzanian border. This area is known as the Kapiti plains. The city of Kitengela, with 300,000 inhabitants, is the fastest growing city in Kenya.

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A man from the Maasai community of Kitengela, Kenya, gazes out to the Nairobi city skyline

CHALLENGES

drought  climate change  predators  privatization  urbanization  lack of marketable skills  pastoralism
loss of culture & tradition  poverty

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This Maasai community of approximately 7,000 people lives in a savannah area known as the Kapiti Plains, which stretches from the southern boundary of Nairobi National Game Park (dark green) south to the Tanzanian border.  It is an area of gently rolling hills, dotted with  houses, fences and dirt roads.  It is collectively known as Kitengela, as is the rapidly developing town located on the eastern side of the area. During colonization by the British, this community was forcibly moved from their more fertile lands in the Rift Valley.  They have occupied Kitengela for over a century and adapted well to their new environment, but they face many challenges in today's world. 

A Maasai boy herds cattle among zebra on the Kipiti Plains, Kenya

THE KITENGELA COMMUNITY

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drought

MAASAI SAYING

"You cannot seperate

a Maasai from his cows."

In Kitengela, over 300,000 cattle have died of starvation since October, 2022.  Although the rains finally arrived in March 2023,  the damage done through starvation and destruction of rangelands may take many years to repair. The Maasai culture is based on cattle, which are used to pay school fees and bride prices and function like a bank. The belief is that, as long as you have two or three cows and can breed with your neighbors' cattle, you can survive.  This leads to problems when too many cattle overgraze limited rangelands and die during drought or become so unhealthy that they cannot be sold.  There is a huge demand for beef in Kenya and Maasai are slowly switching to raising the animals for slaughter, but they still firmly believe that the more cattle a man owns, the wealthier he is. 

privatization

Kitengela is extremely valuable real estate.  Many Maasai landholders are forced to sell in order to survive.  New landholders always fence in their land.  This reduces grazing area for livestock and wildlife and interferes with seasonal migratory routes for species like wildebeest and zebra.

urbanizaton

The town of Kitengela, on the eastern edge of the plains, has grown to over 300,000 people in just 10 years.  It is an unplanned, sprawling mass that threatens to rapidly eat up the plains and the Maasai community.

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In despair, herders let their cattle roam freely in the streets of Kitengela, where they survive on garbage.

pastoralism

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The Maasai are semi-nomadic pastoralists who have practiced this lifestyle for centuries.  Their success lies in the availability of vast tracts of open rangeland so that they can use their intricate knowledge of their environment to make decisions about whether to remain put for a while or seek new grazing.  Their knowledge includes detailed observation of the grazing habits and movements of wildlife, such as zebra and wildebeest, as well as predators such as lions and leopards.  The Maasai have always lived in a peaceful harmony with wildlife. Many scientists believe that their livestock actually helps to maintain the environment for wildlife and vice-versa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


IS PASTORALISM DOOMED?

Pastoralism is practiced in over 100 countries, ranging from India to Switzerland, and involves several million people.  These indigenous peoples manage approximately 70% of the earth's land mass, yet they are the most vulnerable to exploitation.  Some scientists say that pastoralism in today's world is no longer viable.  Others say that pastoralism could be "the green economy" of the future as it is less damaging and aggressive than agriculture.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? 

WE'D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS VITAL TOPIC! 

ACACIA MOYO is introducing new methods of

restorative pastoralism to combat this issue.

ACACIA MOYO
Where Tradition Meets Technology

ikimann@earthlink.net     acaciamoyo@gmail.com

19 Espira Court, Santa Fe, NM 87508

+1646 479-5884

PO Box 76,  Kitengela, Kenya, 00241

 +254721428470

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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.

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