Daniel Salau Rogei

 

From Daniel’s Activity Report:

As a beneficiary of Darrel Posey Fellowship program, I became one of the first ISE Masters Fellows early this year (2012).  The fellowship funds are being used to support my research on inter-generational transfer of indigenous knowledge for purposes of collecting information to promote, preserve and propagate the Maasai language and culture through teaching. Additional travel funds were provided for my participation at the 13th ISE congress taking place at France on 21st -27th 2012.

13th ISE Congress

The 13th ISE conference was preceded by a student’s workshop which was an ice-breaker on issues regarding ethnobiology and the ISE congress. The workshop laid a firm foundation on the understanding and our role in ISE both at the congress and after.  It was a great opportunity to interact, share experiences and draw knowledge from people of diverse backgrounds. The rich knowledge gained from mentors and tutors’ facilitating the workshop was invaluable not only for our work as students but also for general understanding.

The congress was a rich platform that brought science and indigenous knowledge together. My participation was the best experience I have ever had and has changed me for the better. I participated in various sessions and did as much as I can to optimally benefit from the proceedings. The information that was at my disposal has greatly enriched my knowledge and understanding of global issues especially regarding the academia and research institutions. The networks built and emerging collaborations during and after the congress will for along impact on my work for the better.

My participation at the Indigenous session and specifically session 14 on Indigenous Resource Management made feel at home as I could easily identify with the same issues that are almost homogeneous across the indigenous world.  In this session I contributed to this theme through a presentation on Kenya’s Indigenous Knowledge systems:  Challenges and Opportunities with specific reference to the Maasai community.

The highlight of my participation is the poster session where my poster was awarded with the mention of honor by the panel. This was very encouraging and motivating to keep on going with the work.

The work supported by the
ISE Darrell Posey Fellowship Program

Research process

The research work has been going on well. I have been able to collect data from over 50 sages. I have 25 more to go. The information collected relate to words of wisdom (proverbs), folk tales, environment, gender roles, livelihoods (importance of cows), spirituality, weather and change of climate, peace and conflict resolution mechanisms, herbal knowledge and family life.  I have also taken part in major traditional ceremonies where a lot of cultural events take place. The activities implemented so far are;

  • Data Collection – Both qualitative and quantitative data has been collected through structured questionnaires. I personally have been interviewing elders and occasionally school students have also been doing as a way to have them learn and appreciate the process.
  • Graduation Ceremony – This is where young warriors graduate into junior elders. This is a month long process and has deep teachings on governance (community’s decision making processes), inter-generational knowledge transfer, role of men and women in society, cattle herding skills, life skills and many more.
  • Making of the Council Elders – This is a rite of passage from the junior elders to senior elders who are entrusted with the responsibility of providing advice, making peace, decision making, mentoring a younger generation and providing education.
  • Cultural Show- This was organized by SIMOO in July and it was a good opportunity for the community both old and young came to display their cultural prowess in dances, poetry, folk tales, and artifacts among others. This was a great opportunity to collect more information and sensitize the community on this project.

There are several other ceremonies coming up at the end of the year and I should be able to attend and capture the epic moments of a rich culture in practice. Key among them is another cultural show taking place in another part of the community (close to Mt. Kilimanjaro) and will also present a great opportunity for this research work.

Studies

For update purposes, it is prudent to mention here that I have since enrolled for my master’s course work at University of Nairobi and not Daystar University that had admitted me at the time of application for this fellowship. The reason for this change is that being a private university, Daystar was quite expensive compared to University of Nairobi which is a public institution and more affordable. I have therefore since commenced my graduate studies in August 2012 and my course is Master of Science in Climate Change; focusing on the impact of climate change on IPs and specifically Maasai culture, language and livelihoods. So far, am finding it very interesting area to study and it has a direct bearing which shall compliment well with my fellowship research work.

Expected Results

At the end of my research, I will have built great deal knowledge on the Maasai culture and language; and this will be passed on to the community. This will be in form of photos, videos, publications (magazines features, children books and training manuals). This will be both reference materials to other scholars as well as learning resources to be used at our language centre.