The Marketplace in Marseille

Heads up- Do you know any conservationist who was in Marseille, France in the last couple of weeks? If you’re a conscious African citizen, you need to ask them exactly what they were doing and what they discussed at the IUCN world Conservation congress there. Personally, I was there as part of a group organizing resistance to the relentless advance of colonialism under the guise of conservation throughout the global south. Like most Conservation conferences today, this meeting was full of back-slapping and self-congratulatory nonsense exchanged between celebrities, politicians and business people. It is the ultimate irony because this is the group of people most responsible for the consumption patterns that have landed the world in the climate predicament we see today. Firstly, they created the most effective filter to keep out people from global south (where most biodiversity exists), the students who may be learning new scientific lessons on conservation, and the independent minded practitioners who may be there to share their views, rather than prostitute their faces status and credentials to the needs of their benefactors. This filter was the registration fee. The cheapest rate was the “special members fee” which was 780 Euros (slightly over Ksh. 100,000/- at today’s rates). While most of the Kenyan conservationists are now back from Marseille gushing to all and sundry about the beauty of the South of France (which is true), I am back home a worried man, even more perturbed than I was before, about the march of colonialism under the guise of conservation. To any African proud of his heritage, this worry is only made worse by the unending line of homeguards and uncle toms lining up and singing for places and positions from which they can eat some crumbs and leftovers from massa’s table in the form of small jobs, big cars and trips to conferences at which they will be prominent by their dark complexions, rather than the intellectual content of their contributions. These heritage salesmen and women will call themselves all sorts of fancy titles, but their brains are of no consequence to the European Colonizers. They are as much props as the obviously (physically, mentally or both??) uncomfortable woman unfortunate (or foolish?) enough to have her ridiculous image carrying a pangolin on the blueprint for the new scramble for Africa.

The biggest thing out of Marseille was the EUs grand plan to capture Africa’s natural heritage through a program called “NaturaAfrica”, and here is the link to the document Since they know that they have selected partners in Africa to whom prostitution comes easily, they couched this announcement in noise about ‘doubling of funding for conservation” on their twitter handle

In the first photo, you can see Mr. Philip Mayoux from the EU presenting the audacious grand plan. He expressly stated that they are going to use the “Northern Rangelands Trust model” which has served them well thus far. I’ve been saying for the last 5 years that NRT is a model for colonialism and some invertebrates here have been breaking wind in consternation at my disrespect to their cult. The financiers have now said that it is a pilot for their planned acquisition of Africa’s natural heritage. What say you now? Who’s in charge of the plantation? Do the naïve majority now understand the violence in Northern Kenya? Do the naïve majority now understand why foreign special forces are training armed personnel (outside our state organs) to guard the so-called conservancies? Following this extravagant declaration by Mayoux the CEO of NRT, Mr. Tom Lalampaa, barely containing his joy, took the stage and gushed that “NaturAfrica will be welcomed by all Africans” as Mayoux looked on indulgently.

It is only the irrational excitement that comes from massa’s praises that can make a mere NGO director purport to speak for the 1.3 billion inhabitants of the world’s second largest continent. Kwenda huko! (‘get out of here!’ for my non-swahili speaking readers) we can see through the scheme. In the close up of the map, you can see the takeover plan (darks green areas).

Tsavo, Amboseli (in Southern Kenya) and Mkomazi in northern Tanzania is a colony of the WWF “Unganisha” program In the west, there is the The Nature Conservancy colony consisting of the Maasai Mara wildlife conservancies association in Kenya, and the Northern Tanzania Rangelands Initiative in Tanzania. The rest are the NRT colony (including the rift valley, which is clearly marked) and the oil fields in Northern Kenya. East Africa’s entire Indian Ocean seascape is marked for acquisition, and spare a thought for the Island nations therein, because they have been swallowed whole. The plan has already been implemented around the Seychelles and documented I will repeat this as often as necessary:- The biggest threat to the rights and sovereignty of African people in the 21st century is not military conflict or terrorism or disease, hunger, etc. It is Conservation organizations, even governments that seek to dominate us come through conservation. They will bring their expatriates, their militaries, and their policies. If you look at the map, the relatively “free” countries like Nigeria, Congo, Ethiopia and Sudan, Somalia, etc are those where international conservation NGOs haven’t been able to get a foothold. Here in Kenya, our state agency KWS is busy counting animals, not knowing that they are well on the way to becoming irrelevant spectators in our conservation arena. If you think this is far- fetched, ask someone there why there are radioactive materials dumped by Naromoru gate to Mt. Kenya National Park. Or why KFS is standing by without any policy position while the Rhino Ark goes about fencing Mt. Kenya forest- a UNESCO world heritage site.

Has anyone asked the EU why this grand plan isn’t global, but only focused on Africa? Are there no conservation concerns in Europe, Asia, or the Americas? Ours is the land of opportunity and this is why they want it. The funding will facilitate immigration and pay to employ the expatriates that will look after their interests in our homelands. Their militias will keep us out of our lands which they need for ‘carbon credits’ so their industries and emissions can continue unabated. Lastly, they need our land for export dumping of their household rubbish, toxic wastes, and most of all radioactive materials. This is obviously a continental initiative, but addressing my compatriots (Kenyans), can you now see what I have been talking about for years, even as the European colonists tell Maasais, Samburus and other pastoralist communities that they shouldn’t listen to me because I am Luo? Can you now see how miniscule that school of thought is, how easily you have been diverted to discussing irrelevant minutiae vis a vis the scale of their grand plan?

As I said in the beginning, my mission, together with colleagues in Survival International, is the de-colonization of conservation in Africa and the global south. The violence and routine violation of indigenous people’s rights is the most visible symptom that brought this problem to our notice, but we must understand that the violence isn’t just for sport, as much as these organizations revel so much in it. Like the 18th and 19th century colonialism, it is a commercial venture that is just followed by political aims because it is too big to remain private. When Leopold’s Belgians massacred people in Congo, it wasn’t just for sport (although at some point it looked like that) – they were there to collect rubber and other resources. The conservation militias don’t just kill indigenous Africans for sport, they are here to protect colonies on behalf of capital interests. It is not about the wildlife, that is just the window dressing. After all, the people and the wildlife were here for thousands of years before we had militias.

This is why we cannot afford to give up. Its not just about biodiversity, but about our identity, our resources and our children. This is why we must fight intellectually to develop our own conservation philosophy and reject this paranoid, violent, and elitist western model that is based on ‘Tarzan’. In order to restore the rights of indigenous peoples, we must tackle the reason why they are being oppressed, tortured and sometimes killed. It is commerce. Conservation is just the attire in which it is clothed.

Find an African who was in Marseille, and ask him or her what they were doing there. If they cannot demonstrate what they said against this colonial project, they had better show you a lot of photos of them shopping and spending a wonderful holiday in the south of France. If they cannot come up with either of these, then they were in France selling or facilitating the sale of our heritage to corporate pirates.