(Northern Tanzania & Kenya)
The Pan African Living Cultures Alliance (PALCA) is an international NGO led by and for Indigenous Peoples of Africa and registered in Kenya. PALCA’s mission is to safeguard communities’ biocultural rights, support inter-generational transmission, preserve indigenous languages, promote traditional governance of natural resources, with participatory video at its heart. Currently PALCA only includes Maasai communities, however their hope is to build the alliance between more Indigenous communities nearby such as the Sengwer and Ogiek, as well as beyond East Africa.
PALCA takes an innovative approach in addressing issues of indigenous cultures strengthening, decolonization of cultural spaces, climate change, networking with like-minded organizations, individuals, conservation of fauna and flora from indigenous knowledge perspectives and strategic, nonconfrontational engagement with nation states and regional bodies like East African community, ECOWAS, Au, Sadc and UN bodies.
PALCA is working with Oxford university Museum and the Pitts River Museum on the project of decolonisation of Museums and cultural spaces, reparation and possible reconciliation. The organization focuses on strengthening cultural and indigenous knowledge systems, conservation of natural environment and contribution to the global efforts to save the planet through promotion of the use indigenous knowledge systems and how they can be used to inspire the world and inform the efforts and strategies to save the planet.
Video by the Maasai community talking about how industry, government and conservation agencies steal and degrade their land.
“Modernization based development theory has spearheaded the destruction of endogenous development thinking and philosophies if indigenous communities in our planet and planted western cultural values through the colonially spirited formal education system which systemically and neo-colonialistically has made indigenous communities think less of themselves as human who have own knowledge systems which connects them with nature”
Samwel Nangiria, Maasai activist, explains the issues affecting indigenous people. Issues related to the colonialist idea of land occupation, conservation and issues of investment. Western ideology and education is trying to destroy their culture, to replace indigenous knowledge, discouraging the communal system to replace it with individual land owning.
“Capitalistic development model is the key culprit for propelling western overconsumption of natural resources and setting humanity on a no return road for self destruction through unabated release of greenhouse gas emissions. Students should understand [the difference between] the western model of development visavis the indigenous endogenous development model which discourages overconsumption and respects close and friendly harmony with the natural environment.”
An example of sustainable adaptation of pastoralism to shifting climate conditions, de-growing their own livestock: The rising practice amongst Maasai pastoralists of selling livestock in time to prevent mortality of animals during the annual dry season. The dry spells get more severe due to climate change and population growth and land alienation has reduced available grazing land. In order for the Maasai to maintain their centuries’ old way of life, it is crucial to reduce herd sizes and sell on a regular basis. In this way, sustainable pastoralism can be possible.
TO LAND GRABS
“We want to look at land issues not only from the conflict of one village, one district. We have decided to develop a very comprehensive pan-Maasai strategy, with PV hubs at community level at the heart: Living Cultures. We want to preserve our culture because it is under attack, it is slowly being eroded and as soon as we lose our culture, we lose everything, our land our livelihood, everything. And for us culture means land, means environment, a secure environment, a safe environment”.
The Maasai are not passive victims of this genocide. They are bravely resisting the onslaught, using non violent resistance, putting their bodies in front of the army who wants to evict them, showing incredible bravery in the face of danger.
Since the beginning of the evictions the community has mobilised in great numbers to deliberate and reach collective decisions on demands and strategies. They organized a large number of protests, including coordinated protests in Ngorongoro, Dar Es Salaam, London and Edinburgh, as well as launching an international campaign to boycott the tourist industry, which is the cause of the evictions.
The community also reached out to international media outside of Tanzania, securing sustained coverage of the evictions, is providing legal defence to all human rights defenders under attack by the state and organised emergency support for those Maasai who had to flee to Tanzania. They are currently submitting a complaint to the United Nations, to UNESCO and challenging the government’s actions in the East African Court of Justice. They have been engaged in this struggle for land and life for decades already. The courageous collective resistance of the Maasai community shows us that when people are determined to defend their land and fight together, they can face overwhelming odds.
Story of women maasai movement emancipating themselves while winning battles for their land rights against safari companies.
What is PALCA going to do with the money raised:
Money raised will support the Maasai run Participatory Video hubs in Kenya and Tanzania being able to document, create videos, a platform the challenges that Maasai communities face. As well as this being a powerful tool to expose and spread awareness of atrocities such as violent evictions, the Participatory Video process facilitates opportunities for Maasai communities to reflect and build a collective critical consiousness on the issues that face communities in order to mitigate them.
Moreover, funds will go towards the growth and resilience of PALCA: basic inception activities like office rent, website development and basic installation of financial and management systems in our organisation as well as networking to market the innovative strategy of PALCA. Setting up a network of hubs for indigenous educators.