Being Maasai, Becoming Indigenous: Postcolonial Politics in a Neoliberal World

Being Maasai, Becoming Indigenous: Postcolonial Politics in a Neoliberal World

Being Maasai, Becoming Indigenous: Postcolonial Politics in a Neoliberal World

Being Maasai, Becoming Indigenous: Postcolonial Politics in a Neoliberal World

Synopsis

What happens to marginalized groups from Africa when they ally with the indigenous peoples' movement? Who claims to be indigenous and why? Dorothy L. Hodgson explores how indigenous identity, both in concept and in practice, plays out in the context of economic liberalization, transnational capitalism, state restructuring, and political democratization. Hodgson brings her long experience with Maasai to her understanding of the shifting contours of their contemporary struggles for recognition, representation, rights, and resources. Being Maasai, Becoming Indigenous is a deep and sensitive reflection on the possibilities and limits of transnational advocacy and the dilemmas of political action, civil society, and change in Maasai communities.

Excerpt

Toward the end of 1987, as I was preparing to leave Tanzania after three years of working in community development for the local Catholic Diocese (now Archdiocese) of Arusha, I was invited to lunch by Lepilall ole Molloimet. At the time, Lepilall was in his second five-year term as the member of Parliament for Monduli District, one of the so-called pastoralist districts comprised of predominantly (but not exclusively) Maasai people. I was completing my second year as coordinator of the Arusha Diocesan Development Office (ADDO), the organization responsible for coordinating and implementing community development and food relief efforts for the local Catholic Diocese of Arusha. We used participatory problem-posing methods to encourage dialogue, critical awareness, and self-defined development among communities. Since the boundaries of the Diocese of Arusha encompassed the entire former “Masai District” (which was initially the “Masai Reserve”), much if not most of our outreach, education, and development work occurred with Maasai. I had therefore come to know Lepilall through our work in Monduli District, as we asked for (and received) his constant help in navigating the bureaucratic thickets of the Tanzanian government and oneparty state for permissions, delivery of materials and supplies, secondment of personnel, and more.

We met in the lush garden of the Equator Hotel, a formerly glamorous hotel in the center of downtown Arusha that was somewhat rundown by 1987. Over a lunch of grilled goat meat and beer, Lepilall discussed his dream:

I want to start an NGO [nongovernmental organization] that is run by Maasai
to serve Maasai people and interests. We have been well served by ADDO,
and we have learned a great deal about how to do development. We very much
respect the work that you have done. But it is now time that Maasai take re
sponsibility for themselves. Several of us been talking about forming our own
NGO and we would like your help. Could you perhaps review our constitution

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.