When will life actually matter?
|· June 30th deadline for public comments on development plans for Nairobi National Park looms|
· Under the cover of Coronavirus, the government of Kenya has pushed through development plans which will have detrimental impact on indigenous communities and wildlife
· “To ignore an entire Maasai community and its livelihood for the enjoyment of a few, is the “othering” of our lives,” – Nkamunu Patita, Maasai community leader
· The fate of nature reserves across Kenya and Africa hangs by a string as a precedent is set
Social Hastags: #SaveNNP #SaveNairobiNationalPark #LoveandRageInTimesofCorona #XRAfrica
(XR AFRICA: Nairobi, KENYA) – As June 30th fast approaches, so does D-day for Nairobi National Park. This deadline is set for the greater public to submit their comments for consideration before construction begins heartily in July in Nairobi National Park on land reserved for indigenous people and the preservation of wildlife. The Kenyan government, using the global pandemic as a distraction, is charging relentlessly ahead to begin fencing off swathes of the world’s only urban nature reserve for the benefit of luxury developments. Time is ticking for the indigenous Maasai community and the wildlife who call this oasis of life home.
Once the public consultation formality is met, the Kenyan government remains committed to destroying African and global heritage, altering irreversibly an ecosystem untouched for centuries. Plans to fence off the African nature reserve, means the indigenous Maasai community, the land’s rightful caretakers and inhabitants, will be separated from its lifeline. A migratory corridor linking the only natural reservation within a capital city in the world to vital dispersal lands is under direct threat of being interrupted.
The proposed project by Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) will, in-itself, bring more harm than good to both the existing wildlife and the indigenous communities living within the park. This ancestral symbiotic community of life, untouched for millennia, is at great risk and requires a global push, if future generations are to enjoy this breathtaking natural monument.
“To ignore an entire Maasai community and its livelihood for the enjoyment of a few, is the “othering” of our lives,” explains Vincent Ole Simel, a Maasai community leader, who lives and fights for her people in NNP. “The othering of people ‘of a different kind’, in this case us, is the axis around which progress has revolved. Progress is taking our ecosystem to the brink of extinction. This progress enables the othering of black lives to the point that they do not matter as much as other lives and often not even at all. This is our reality. Let us call this a criminal disregard for our human rights. Because progress is the reason our leaders do not stop the systematic erosion of Nairobi National Park. Let us call this criminal negligence. The economy matters more than life, we are taught, and in this equation, our lives matter even less. Nothing changes.”
Endless monologue webinars open only to “friendly” questioning and removal of news stories from online media outlets are some of the tactics the national government has employed to dissuade dissent. All this to the backdrop of a pandemic in which governments around the world have set the example of putting life before economy as they relentlessly lockdown their citizens and commerce. “In Kenya, a mere few km from its locked-down capital, people’s concern and vulnerability have been taken advantage to push through a development project which would have been met with greater resistance and protests. Meetings to discuss the matter were often held after the strict 7 pm curfew imposed by the government. This meant, thanks to Covid restrictions, very few community members could take part. Other stakeholder meetings were held online which the community could not access due to a lack of technology. Meanwhile the news being dominated by stories of the virus around the world means there is no space for news what is going on in our own backyard,” says Reinhard Bonke, founding Executive Director of the African Sustainability Network.
The process being carried out for the development of implementation of the management Plan of Nairobi National Park goes against the constitution of Kenya that mandates the participation of the community in the stakeholder meetings, and goes completely against the National Wildlife Conservation strategy and set conservation principles. Most of Kenya’s wildlife thrives in community lands, fencing goes against the main objective of the plan to conserve habitats and thriving populations.
“We ask the world to join us and stand for safeguarding the posterity of the park. Whatever will happen to this park will determine the safety of other Kenya’s parks and Africa at large,” explains Fazeela Mubaraak from the African Sustainability Network. “We have filed a court case questioning the formulation process of this management plan and against the encroachment of Kenya’s parks.”
For Twitter – #Savennp
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