Special Practitioner Event - short documentary films on land grabbing and live discussions with Massai leaders and filmmakers
A short film presentation and panel discussion on the Massai people and their struggles to protect their rights to common land and other resources.
- Amos Karino Leuka, Member of the Loita Council of Elders and Loita Land Committee
- Nick Lunch, Director and Co-Founder at InsightShare
- Samwel Nangiria, Founding Director of Oltolio Le Maa
In this special practitioner film and panel session, conference participants will hear from Maasai Nation Leaders and cultural heritage advocates from InsightShare as they prepare for land and community healing ceremonies in Kenya post-conference. The session will be divided into two parts: (1) short documentary film presentations and participatory discussion facilitated by Maasai filmmakers; and (2) an open panel discussion with Maasai leaders and InsightShare who were involved in the production of these films, and/or are working to protect the Masaai rights to land and other natural resources from enclosure. They will discuss the history, policy, and actions that have led to their current lived experience, and what might be possible for resolving land stewardship conflict that has persisted for several decades.
Participatory video is a method used by Indigenous peoples to highlight the struggles and issues they face. Through a reflective dialogue between Maasai activists, co-founders of the Pan African Living Culture Alliance (PALCA), and the co-founder and director of InsightShare, this session will share films and discussion that trace the emergence, impacts, and challenges of the Living Cultures alliance of Indigenous community video collectives.
Recognized by UNESCO as “an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalization,” Intangible Cultural Heritage not only represents inherited traditions, but also significant contemporary rural and urban land custodianship practices that are grounded in community. When the expression of cultural heritage is not taken into account or respected by governments and organizations during conservation policy efforts, indigenous communities are at risk to lose access to sacred lands and territories that are a part of that heritage; these lands are those which support agricultural livelihoods, grounds for ceremonial rites of passage, and the opportunity to live in freedom and peace. In considering the commons we want to see, which includes addressing historical legacies to establish collective future actions, there is a violent legacy of battling for stewardship and access to common ancestral lands, which is at the heart of this moment – as we convene in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Maasai Nation, with 25 sections living in Northern Tanzania and Southern Kenya, have a long history of being evicted from ancestral land to make space for conservation areas, including UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, Serengeti National Park. Since June 2022, the Tanzanian government has been forcing eviction of Maassai communities in the Loliondo Division of the Ngorongoro District to make way for a controlled game reserve. Protests and violence escalate as security forces advance on the forcible eviction of an estimated 80,000 Maasai from ancestral lands in the adjacent Ngorongoro Conservation Area; this forced eviction counters legal and customary ownership which was granted to the Maasai living on these lands, when it was initially divided by the government to establish the Seregenti National Park.
Amidst calls from the United Nations to the Tanzanian government to halt plans for relocation of nearly 150,000 people living in Loliondo and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Maasai Nation continues to fight for guaranteed security of their common land and a human-centered decision-making process for land access and protection that is a benefit to all.
Indigenous peoples are the most affected by social and ecological crises today but also hold the key to solving these crises. 400 years of resistance to colonialism and capitalism have given Indigenous Peoples vital perspectives, and their voices in local, national, and global spaces must be amplified. However, they often lack access to communications technologies and training, rendering their stories and perspectives largely untold, or at best ventriloquized by well-meaning outsiders.
 UNESCO: What is Intangible Cultural Heritage? https://ich.unesco.org/en/home
 UNESCO’s Publications of the Urgent Safeguarding List, Representative List and the Register of Best Safeguarding Practices: https://ich.unesco.org/en/publications-of-the-lists-00492
 Losing the Serengeti: The Maasai Land that was to run forever: https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/sites/oaklandinstitute.org/files/losing-the-serengeti.pdf
 UNESCO World Heritage Criterion for Serengeti National Park: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/156
 United Nations: Tanzania: UN experts warn of escalating violence amidst plans to forcibly evict Maasai from ancestral lands https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/06/tanzania-un-experts-warn-escalating-violence-amidst-plans-forcibly-evict
 Human Rights Watch: Tanzania: Maasai Forcibly Displaced for Game Reserve: https://www.hrw.org/news/2023/04/27/tanzania-maasai-forcibly-displaced-game-reserve