Requirements for citizenship of the racist Kingdom

Dear Natives, here is a what seems like a very firm declaration, driven by the need to address the many many young people asking me for advice because they are trying to make their way in the conservation field in Kenya. Young people, stop trying to avoid making decisions, there is no advice I can give you that will replace the need for courage and conviction. You MUST be prepared to join one of the following groups;

1.           Those who fight for justice. You will FIGHT every day. It hurts in every way you can imagine, but you sleep well at night and walk with your head high. However, you must watch your back, because our conservation sector is organized crime. Anyone can do this, but you must be brave.

2.           The Slave owner (This position is only available to those of Caucasian extraction) no description required.

3.           The “Uncle Tom”. Working for the slave plantation, serving the interests of the slave owner. This position is available to all races, but black Kenyans doing this tend to pretend that they don’t know what they are doing and pretend to be focused on “communities”, beadwork, “alternative livelihoods” and other nonsensical minutiae. Homeguards or ‘ngaati’ as my Kikuyu brothers call them

4.           “Bundekamnara” This is a bastardized Dholuo insult corrupted from “Bunduki come nearer”. White colonials used to carry guns everywhere, and the most trustworthy, physically strong and intellectually stunted native available was designated as gunbearer. He was strong enough to carry a heavy rifle and ammunition all day and too stupid/ cowardly to turn it on the boss in spite of all the mistreatment he received. The gunbearer position in Kenya is mostly occupied by state agencies, but civil society is  loudly staking their claim to be gunbearers through the wildlife conservancy movement.

If you want to get into the conservation movement in Kenya, take your pick from these positions. They are the only ones available. And most importantly, don’t ever fall for the lie that there is any placement outside these categories. We are all one of these, and if you cannot fit anywhere here, go into banking or something else. One of the biggest lies told by conservationists in Kenya is that it doesn’t include racism or white supremacy. If it didn’t our government wouldn’t place our wildlife under tourism. The reason I don’t entertain arguments on this assessment of our conservation sector is because I have lived it for over 20 years and I still live it today. Below is a recent email exchange with a white british man who lived and taught biology in school in Kenya some years ago. Because he is white, he cannot believe that a black man with a PhD in wildlife ecology can have the temerity to question the actions of a white high school dropout (Leakey) in conservation. He is even appalled that I am talking back to a white biology schoolteacher, more so because white people bring in millions of dollars in aid to finance the ‘Tarzan’ lifestyles of white conservationists in Kenya. For the record, my feeling is that foreign conservation funding to NGOs has now become the biggest source of corruption, threat to our wildlife, our indigenous people, and the sovereignty of our nation. Because I do this, to him, I am racist and childish, and because we have corrupt politicians and poor people living in slums, we should never question white people on wildlife matters. This fellow is just too primitive to hide it, but that’s the dominant attitude in Kenya. I have often said that I do enjoy the art of the insult, and dispensing them, but please read the racism between the lines and relate it to what we see every day in the conservation arena in Kenya. 

On Wed, 21 Jul 2021, 16:06 Alan, <> wrote:

Dear Sir,

              I was very disappointed with your book, ‘The Big Conservation Lie.’ I was so looking forward to reading it. However, I found the utterly racist, forensic analysis of Leakey et al’s failures unnecessary. When are you going to stop whining about white colonialism and start making you own history? You have had independence for nearly sixty years, elected your own politicians and made your own beds. You have to lie in them I’m afraid rather than blaming things which happened a lifetime ago. I notice you do not object to the hundreds of millions of white dollars pumped into Africa over the years.

What have you done? Why are people still living in shanty towns and slums.

Before you assume that I don’t know what I am talking about, I am a biologist, conservationist and lived in Kenya a number of years. Perhaps your own corrupt politicians and so called ‘rangers,’ who look the other way in the pay of poachers could be part of the problem. Or is white colonialism responsible for that too?    

Alan Castree

On 21 July 2021, at 14:42, Mordecai Ogada <> wrote:

Hi Alan!! Wonderful to hear from you and thanks for your feedback. Firstly, I am happy that you’re disappointed because you’re precisely the ilk of person we intended to offend.

Secondly, I don’t know what kind of “Conservation biologist” you are because I can’t for the life of me find any evidence of Conservation work you’ve done in Kenya! I am not sure what the poor slum dwellers or corrupt in Kenya have done to attract your attention, but I can assure you, none of them knows or care who you are.

Lastly, you’re an example of the long term problem of colonialism. The bigotry survives long after independence. I find no substantive issues you have raised on the content of our book, so I won’t try to address noise. For the record, I have tagged my co-author and publisher because I didn’t want to enjoy this alone!  

Have a wonderful afternoon

Mordecai Ogada

On Wed, 21 Jul 2021, 18:45 Alan, <> wrote:


To address your points,

There’s only one bigot on this page and its not me!

I never said I did conservation work in Kenya. I was a teacher of biology. Maybe some of your associates were trained by me not that that would count for anything in your fantasy world.

I’m afraid I have to disappoint you, I am not offended (nor surprised) by your rhetoric. It is the usual hogwash I’ve heard all my life from people with enormous chips on each shoulder.

It’s evident nobody in power in Kenya gives a damn about the slum dwelling people either, too busy with their snouts in the trough.

I wasn’t even born when colonialism occurred so I don’t dee the connection.

Notice the measured response I have given you. A bit different to the childish racist bullshit of yours to me, with silly emojis.

If you want to write such rubbish, you must be prepared for criticism.

Hoping you will grow up soon,

Love to all the animals,

Alan Castree

Mordecai Ogada <>

              Jul 21, 2021, 6:48 PM (3 days ago)                        

to Alan

Ah…I obviously didn’t express myself clearly enough, because you’re obviously suffering under the impression that I actually care what you think.

Let me be clearer. I don’t.

No! Oppressors have no say in our freedom story

As I have narrated elsewhere on numerous occasions, the structured (or contrived) practice of African wildlife conservation is a 150-year caucasian hegemony. The initial reaction to talk of conservation colonialism and racism was complete denial by the Kingdom and their black acolytes. Later, as these ugly truths relentlessly appeared in literature and the online spaces through articles and talks, the denial transformed into professional ostracization and personal attacks on myself, Mbaria (my co-author  on “The big conservation Lie) and others speaking up against the vice. This was interspersed with thinly-veiled racism displayed in statements implying that conservation initiatives in Africa led by white foreigners were some form of altruism, based on the myth that black Africans cannot manage their environment or live with their biodiversity. Following the publication of “The Big Conservation Lie” in 2016 and several discussions around the issue, Western practitioners and scholars took notice and the first evidence of this was an international conference on “Decolonization and the Politics of Wildlife in Africa” hosted at Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study, South Africa in September 2017 by two eminent German Scholars, Drs Bernhard Gissibl and Felix Schürmann. I was excited and sent off and abstract. It was rejected, which was bizarre because I was the ONLY African scholar working on the issue at the time. I looked at the participants and it was only Caucasian ‘experts’ and their black African students. That basically meant no independent black African voices. I challenged the organizers on their decision and no answer was forthcoming. I realized that after colonizing Africa and excluding us from conservation, Europeans now wanted to control the decolonization as well. They had no interest in changing the ‘structure’ of colony, just the content. I never heard from these gentlemen again until 2019 when we shared a podium in Berlin as invitees of the German parliament to discuss excesses of conservation organizations in Africa. The tension there is a story for another day, and I still hope that my disdain didn’t show through. Second was a workshop entitled “Crisis Conservation: Saving Nature in Times of Extinction, Exception and Enmity” in May 2020 in Italy. Remember, Africa is still ground zero for this crisis, and even then, there wasn’t any other black African scholar working on these issues (due to lack of courage, not resources). I sent in an abstract and received the facetious response below from the organizer, another European ‘expert’ on how Africans are excluded from conservation in Africa.

Dear Dr Ogada
Many thanks – your email came in just as I was citing your wonderful book again, so the timing was great. Thanks for the abstract: I will get back to you ASAP after the deadline. But a thought more generally: I really like the abstract, but I wonder how it precisely connects with the themes of the workshop. Would you be able to make that more explicit? Much of the selection will in the end be based on how well the papers hold together in a cutting-edge special issue on this theme
Bram Buscher

They didn’t take my abstract, and the only black Africans there were their own students, acting as mouthpieces which is what academia demands of all students  who don’t have the courage to stand for themselves.

Last was a paper being written by white scholars at Oxford University WildCRU (Wild Carnivore Research Unit) about the lack of diversity in African carnivore researchers.  I was invited to be a co-author, and after giving my input, the lead author Dr. Hans Bauer (he who ‘discovered’ lions in Ethiopia in 2016) saw that there was too much truth and asked me to edit it to meet ‘Academic standards’. This native doesn’t take shit like that, so I deleted everything and removed my name from the authors’ list. The embarrassing whining that followed demonstrates that they needed my name for credibility, but not my truths. Eventually, the only black African name in the published paper ( was that of his student.

A number of people have told me about a bizarre project spending a lot of money to bring some captive elephants from Kent in the UK  to be “rewilded”  in Kenya. This is a symptom of the same malaise. ( We have a morally stunted school of thought wracked with guilt about the wanton destruction of African wildlife under an illogical desire to control it. We have now awakened another level of guilt about the oppression they have visited upon us in this misadventure and exposed their cruel avarice. They are now struggling to make their depravities look good by attempting these pathetic ‘reparations’. Their challenge is that racism is so ingrained in the obsession with African wildlife that they cannot relate to black African people. They would rather spend millions on some romantic childhood dream of “returning wildlife to Africa”. Kenya is the only foreigner-obsessed intellectual vacuum where you can pull off such a caper. That’s why even “Northern” white rhinos that were stolen from Sudan were “returned” to Ol Pejeta in Kenya. We don’t need those elephants. We don’t care that you’re bringing them and we aren’t grateful. You should never have stolen them in the first place. Charlatans. The structure must fall. Aluta continua!

The smell of Putrefaction

One of the worst challenges to our intellectual development in this country is the inexplicable deference to titles (rather than intellectual fibre) and the consequent failure to criticize universities (particularly those we attended). I remember one invertebrate once telling me that I shouldn’t criticize the nonsense going on at the university where I got my undergraduate degree unless I am willing to discard the said piece of paper. I was invited by Kenyatta University to a webinar discussing the quality and merits of two new course offerings that they were very excited about- MSc and PhD in conservation biology. At this point, let me be clear- I am a graduate of KU (MSc and PhD), but I was shocked and saddened by the hollowness I saw. Now the department chair is someone whom I consider my academic senior, having defended his PhD before the same panel on the same day I defended my MSc. At around the turn of the Century (yes we are old scholars!) and has wide experience in the conservation civil society, so I thought this might be worth my time. As the Department Chair made his remarks, I picked up all the bullshit lines ‘market oriented’, Millenium Goals, serving Kenya conservation agenda, leaders in the industry, climate change, innovation (someone with a PhD thought innovation was use of drones, but I will keep that story for my grandchildren). They proudly presented all the ridiculous units they were going to teach, including proposal writing, how to do consultancy and grant management and project management (Nyasaye nyakalaga!!). There was no comment from any of the NGO stakeholders present, who knew very well that grants and consultancies in conservation are given based on skin colour, beauty, handsomeness, ethnicity, kickbacks, blood relations, friendships, and other considerations that aren’t obtained in universities. Time for comments! I raised my hand FIRST and made my points clearly. Kenya has NO conservation agenda, Conservation is NOT biology, lastly that they need to design a course in conservation philosophy and policy in order to SET Kenya’s conservation agenda. This is a challenge that I think any university should be excited to take up. There were over 15 senior academics in the meeting. NOBODY understood any of my points or responded in any way. The best thing about working from home is that you can attend to other things, and I noticed that there were some interesting birds in the garden. Kenyans will be familiar with the adjective “…quietly like you’re going to the toilet..” That’s how I left the meeting. Later as I was happily watching birds, the convener (a former MSc classmate) sent a message asking why I left, and whether I would be willing to give talks to the students. My answer was a firm ‘NO’. Like most ridiculous things in Kenya, this course is likely to happen, and I think it will produce wonderful slaves for the conservation plantation. Some will even be capable of raising funds to drive the white conservation agenda. However, KU will have a hard time competing in producing slaves for the conservation plantation. ALU in Rwanda is already miles ahead, even offering an MBA in conservation, the most bizarre course I’ve ever heard of. Intellectual death of Africans is a deliberate western neoliberal agenda, and its now being pursued through our educational institutions. Resist it, fight, and feel free to make enemies because of it. Our intellect is our most powerful weapon today. Aluta continua!

The pirates have found out that our souls are attached to our land…

Being a natural resource specialist, many people have been asking me about the seemingly illogical bill to regulate (in Kenya, that basically means “strangle”) beekeeping. We must read more widely, because if you don’t very little will make sense in Kenya and so much evil will escape our notice. Remember the farm bill, a couple of years ago, when we were told that the application of farmyard manure was to be proscribed? Don’t you recall the “Dairy bill”, which proposed to ban rural dairy farmers (like my neighbor) selling milk to their neighbours (like me)? As is typical with fishy things in Kenya, all these bills are couched in copious amounts legal fluff and nonsense which baffles whoever chooses to try and understand them in isolation.

Now to the natural resource/ conservation sector, the extra fishy field of my specialization. For decades now, conservation policy and practice in Kenya has been driven by avaricious western interests whose target is our land. Our beautiful wildlife is just the (very effective) tool they have chosen to implement this scheme. Earlier this year, Kenyan conservationists demonstrated their ‘whiteness’ by shouting and breaking wind (due to pressure the diaphragm on the abdomen) over a 180 acre avocado farm on the boundary of Amboseli National park. NEMA obliged and for the first time since I started observing these things, I saw an agricultural project halted for “environmental concerns”. I instantly knew that the owners were ‘black’. In this context I mean local Kenya citizens without any ‘foreign investor’ backing the project. Lets talk agriculture and natural ecosystems: In 2010 Mumias sugar company wanted to farm sugarcane in 40,000 hectares of the Tana Delta (prime wildlife habitat and pasture). NEMA didn’t stop it, and it only stalled because the communities threatened the “investors” with violence (see I can name the PhD scientists who signed a pathetic environmental impact assessment document stating that there was no significant impact on biodiversity despite the well-known number of endemic aquatic and terrestrial species there. This is over 400 times the size of the avocado farm, and the carbon/ water footprint is huge. Another one is the 10,000 acre Galana Kulalu white elephant which collapsed, but under the weight of corruption, not any protests by conservationists (see This is over 50 times the size of the KiliAvo farm in Amboseli. These all threatened wildlife habitats, but the only difference in that KiliAvo made the mistake of threatening a “white space” (read: a recreational area enjoyed by foreign tourists and investors). The actual threat to habitat was just a (poor) excuse for apartheid, and the authorities fell for it. All the noise the scientists are making is covered as the “Prostitution of Science” in chapter 6 ‘The Big Conservation Lie’.

Now back to honey. Beekeeping is one of the key black (read: indigenous) use of (otherwise ‘protected’) forests and riparian areas.  It is listed against the reasons to fence forests, it is one of the reasons that the Ogiek people need to stay in their forested ancestral homes. Pastoralism is being strangled (with the assistance of conservation organizations) because it is the key link in the fabric that binds Maasai, Samburu, Rendille, people etc to their homelands, denying a free pass to white activities like sport hunting, world championship rallies, and “Karen Blixen model” tourism. In a very rich irony, conservationists are shocked at the honey bill, because it interferes with one of the ‘alternative livelihoods’ they have been using to kill pastoralist livestock production. Conservationists should suck their lemons in peace and stop whining. They should actually be flattered that the government of Kenya recognized the efficacy of their destruction of indigenous livelihoods as a subjugation method. Now you can understand the dairy bill. When you know just how much money pastoralists make from sale of manure to farmers, youwill also understand the farm bill. Social evils in Kenya are deeply interconnected.

Let us treat conservationists with the same degree of caution that our ancestors should have applied to missionaries. We must question their methods, words, and objectives. We must also read widely and in depth. These people are just as bad for our social fabric as missionaries were 150 years ago, but at least today have the benefit of knowledge. Aluta Continua.

Privateers and Buccaneers

The reason why “privatization” is in quotes is because it is just a word that covers up for a lot of the wrong things that are afoot in our public arena. For the sake of absolute clarity, whether one calls it privatization, private-public partnership, contracting, concessioning or whatever it may be, my considered opinion is an unequivocal “NO”. The first thing we as Kenyans must stop is the tendency to describe things as acceptable, simply because they have been done in other countries, especially those in the west, or described using that ludicrous term ‘developed’. Secondly, we must resist any comparisons with South Africa, firstly because Africa is not a village and secondly because the private “parks” there are products of Group Areas Act. If the person comparing us with South Africa is white, make sure you use aggressive language, and if he is black, feel free to insult him for his foolishness. We must fix this place.

Back to Kenya. Public private partnerships aren’t new in this country, particularly in the arena of infrastructure where projects are built by external partners who then run them for a given period to recoup their investment. The building is what they bring to the table. It is a false equivalent to imagine that the same thinking can be brought to our natural heritage. Just what does a foreign partner bring to a park? Elephants? Lions? Forests? Mountains? Our state agency is mandated to hold our natural heritage in trust for us and future generations. The heritage is not theirs to lease or contract or whatever to anybody. The thing that defies belief here is that KWS is looking at the unsustainable, NGO run, donor funded “community conservancies” and imagining that it can do the same with National Parks. They haven’t even contemplated public participation and discussion with citizens which must necessarily precede any discussion with EU diplomats who are foreigners. There are always Kenyans who are traumatized into supporting even the worst decisions by government and will be telling us how good this is. I’d like to refer them to two relatively minor concessions at KWS which were spectacular failures. Who remembers some strange animal called Ranger’s Restaurant or Sebastian’s? These two “concessions” are both at KWS Hq, spitting distance from the accounting and internal auditors’ offices, but never earned KWS anything and are moribund. You see, the elephant in KWS and the rest of Kenya which we pretend not to notice is that any such concessions are always made to the connected, not the competent. When we are told that KWS will contract the revenue collection to an outside person, what message does that send about the millions spent on installing and maintaining the smart card entry system? This is obviously a human problem, not an electronic engineering problem. Concessions are policy plans, and not reactions to real or perceived inefficiencies in organizations. Those are only solved by having qualified professional, and committed staff at the helm. In 2018, the Government of Kenya contravened its own recruitment rules in installing a new Director-General, so these are self-made problems and they should kindly leave our parks out of any discussions with foreign buccaneers. If the KWS ship appears to be straying off course, and plagued with inefficiencies, then concession the captain to someone who could use him more efficiently.

Another act in the Theatre of the Absurd

In the last couple of days, many friends have been talking to me about this bizarre statement from our Tourism and Wildlife minister, implying that we should consider privatizing various tourism facilities under his ministry (including National Parks) . Why are we psychologically unable to escape from this fallacy that National Parks are tourism facilities rather that repositories of our natural heritage?? The very first function of KWS listed in the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act (2013) is to “Conserve and manage national parks, wildlife conservation areas, and sanctuaries under its jurisdiction”. There is no mention of removal of the said parks from KWS jurisdiction. However, looking at the recent legal debacles in Kenya, one can be forgiven for thinking that the top echelons of our government are challenged in legal thought, so lets ignore that for a moment… In fact let’s forget about everything else including sovereignty and heritage questions which would tax philosophically challenged minds. Water is life. Our most important water catchment, the Aberdares which supplies Nairobi (including the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife Hq.) is a national park, as is Mt. Kenya, Chyulu Hills, Mzima springs (supplying Mombasa, the Minister’s hometown). What struck me like a thunderbolt was the Minister’s assertion that this would ‘bring efficiency’. I haven’t heard any protests from the Director General, or the Board so I assume that they have accepted this assessment. Bwana Waziri, if the KWS management has failed, disband the board and change the CEO. We know that since the departure of the Chairman, the board currently doesn’t include a single independent member with the requisite qualifications to advise on wildlife conservation matters. The CEO is a career military officer. Dear Sir, where on earth was this mythical “efficiency” supposed to come from?? It should be anathema to disregard the efforts of hundreds of hard working, brave and professional KWS staff in this manner. Handing over our heritage to foreigners will enslave our children. NO Sir, that is not acceptable. There are qualified and committed Kenyans who can sit on that board and be custodians of our most precious gems. If your DG has failed, remove him and call any of the qualified Kenyans you know (and yes, you even have my phone number). EU diplomats and other foreigners are most welcome to our parks as visitors. Not as management.

Kenya’s Heritage Persists- In spite of our Scientists

As this, and all the media reports say,

This is apparently the oldest known burial site in Africa, being over 78,000 years old. There is some inordinate excitement over the fact that this was a ‘deliberately’ dug hole where the child was laid to rest in some ‘funerary rites’. This begs the question; why the surprise and excitement? Are these Europeans thinking that civilization began in Europe and that we learnt to inter our dead from them? Why on earth is it a surprise that African people have caringly buried a child? This is what many scholars describe as the terra nullius mentality that still makes European people presume to ‘discover’ things that involve precolonial African societies. When will desecration of graves in Africa, South America and the rest of the Global South be regarded as barbarism, rather than ‘science’? Were any of the local people asked about cultural implications of unearthing a grave before they proceeded? No, of course not, this is “science”! According to the foreign researchers, this find “Highlights the emergence of both complex social behaviour among Homo sapiens, and cultural differences across populations of modern humans in Africa” Yes, in plain English, it shows that African Homo sapiens were civilized. Earth-shaking stuff. The only more vexing thing is the insipid and spineless local scientists who accompany these charlatans as “watu wa mkono” (to my non-swahili speaking friends, those are basically logistic assistants). As is always the case with “discoveries” in Africa, the key task of the ‘watu wa mkono’ is to facilitate the removal of the heritage from situ and facilitate its shipment out of the country. In this case, the bones were taken to Spain, A throwback to the brutal colonial days when everything of value or interest found in Africa was spirited off to Europe. Artifacts, humans, heads of humans, monuments, etc. Many countries are in the middle of repatriating their heritage, but its no surprise that Kenya is still shipping out heritage. I’m not impressed. Before anyone boasts to me about our ‘scientists’ finding a 78,000 year old grave, let them find us a 64 year old grave that is a crucial piece of our heritage somewhere in Kamiti. We even know the name of the person whose bones are there. Our heritage is, and should always be what WE say it is. Not what outsiders find exciting about us. Only then will we have an identity as a Nation.

“Love” for wildlife…and other neglected illnesses

Our world famous compatriot Lupita Nyong’o was one of those who have been recruited in the past to get us to ‘love’ wildlife. My friend Ted Malanda writing about Lupita Nyongo’s homecoming in back in 2015 opined that she was lost, and said this; “If you want to save elephants, never say you love them. Revere and fear them. Love blinds one to reality.” Lupita as an actress probably didn’t know better and learned from Ted’s cup of wisdom. Conservationists who profess ‘love’ for wildlife on the other hand, aren’t blinded to reality. They know what is real and use these emotional expressions to shield it from observation. What reality are they hiding? One might ask. Many things, including schizophrenia, cruelty, racism, depression and all manner of neuroses. An interesting aspect I have observed directly and through media over the years is that the acuity of this neurosis is directly proportional to the sharpness of the focus of the ‘love’. Simply put, someone who ‘loves’ a certain wildlife habitat/ landscape is normal. One who loves a single species exclusive of others is an eccentric oddball. One who works to protect a particular species from others is suffering schizophrenia. The one who loves and ‘follows’ or ‘owns’ a particular (named) individual of a species is in stage 4. For your own welfare, avoid this individual, particularly if you are a native of the country in which his or her illness is manifesting. Who are these people? Stage 4 examples include the late Diane Fossey, Joy Adamson, and George Adamson. There are many living ones, but I won’t name them in order to avoid alarming those who cannot avoid them like their spouses, employees, or children. What are the symptoms of this neurosis within African conservation practice?

  1. People who ‘love’ elephants so much that they kidnap calves from the wild and cuddle them in orphanages (where black men sleep with them in stables)
  2. People who ‘love’ chimpanzees so much that when a chimp snatches and eats a (black) human baby, they move the humans away, and do nothing to the chimp.
  3. People who ‘love’ grevy’s zebras so much that they enclose them behind a fence, and request for permission to kill lions to protect the beloved zebras
  4. People who love northern white rhinos so much that they “euthanize” and old male because he is “suffering”, but only after the surgically harvest all the sperm they can from him for use in impregnating his daughter apparently to “save the species”
  5. The same people in #4 who love white rhinos so much that they spend millions to anaesthetize females and surgically harvest their ova for in vitro fertilization with their father’s sperm in a lab in Europe
  6. People who love wildlife so much that they will insert cameras into the wombs of pregnant females to photograph the unborn fetuses. See

There are many more examples, but you get the idea. Unlike most mental illnesses, this schizophrenia is contagious, and infects African people and institutions too. Examples are:

  1. Cabinet minister and County Governor attending a ‘funeral’ for a wild animal that was killed by the very people who ‘loved’ it so much.
  2. A state authority that can accept the naming of giant-tusked elephant after a former hunter (who also sits on its board)
  3. Black  conservationists who can advocate for agreements that remove their kinsmen from their ancestral lands to make room for foreign tourists and ‘investors’
  4. Black conservationists who want us to ‘fall in love’ with our wildlife
  5. Wildlife veterinarians employed by a state authority running around in the bush treating wild animals that have been injured in interspecific or intraspecific fights with other wild animals.

There are myriad examples, but the question we must ask is: What is this ‘love’ for something that is wild and doesn’t even know you? My friend Darius Okolla (an economist) has an elegant description these people; They are a “Paranoid elite who are unable co-exist with anything that they cannot appropriate in one way or another”. That appropriation can be in the form of capturing them for entertainment, killing them for trophies or to satisfy bloodlust, or even naming them. You will note that none of the unfortunate named creatures bears an African name. Indigenous Africans through the ages have revered wildlife, lived with wildlife, killed wildlife, been killed by wildlife, and even named children after wildlife (unlike the schizophrenics, who do the reverse). However, we do not ‘love’ wildlife, because we never aspired to appropriate it, and that is why we have more wildlife remaining than the countries from which these saviours come with their gospel. A foreigner’s love for our wildlife is usually a measure of their hatred for indigenous people and paranoia. In Africa, we need to protect ourselves and our heritage from this schizophrenia which has decimated wildlife in other continents. Here in Kenya If you’re black and someone who has never told you that they love us tells you how much they ‘love’ our wildlife, back off slowly and protect your children from them. A famous stage 4 schizophrenic who loved a particular lion after its mother was killed by her husband is described thus by George Monbiot writing in ‘The Guardian’ in 2002: “Joy Adamson, who was one of the most viciously racist and brutal characters ever to carve a career in Africa, used the status afforded by her books and the films they inspired to wage war on the indigenous people.”

Protect yourself from professed “Love” for wildlife.

Tarzan of the Apes: Misplaced Hubris in Conservation Graduate Students

Broadly speaking, there are 3 kinds of students who seek to interview Dr. Mordecai Ogada as part of their research.

Firstly, there is the lazy one. These are (mostly Kenyan) students who are looking for a shortcut. They know I am knowledgeable in their chosen field, but above all, they don’t want me as their supervisor because they know I am serious and will make them work (read; THINK). The lazy supervisors they have chosen advise them to come to me for ideas and even give them my contacts. They expect me to be flattered because they were referred to me by a professor.

Secondly, there are the foreign students (mostly from the UK and the US). They have obviously read enough of my work and seen enough about me on the internet to know that my thinking is important in the field of conservation. However, due to racial prejudices, they feel that having an (indigenous) African name on the references list at the end of your paper on conservation in Africa will compromise its “Tarzan” value and your credentials as an ‘Africa expert’ (whatever that is). They are also extremely averse to having me as a supervisor, because my name on their thesis could imply that they have been exposed to the truth and compromise their chances of getting a ‘Tarzan’ (or Jane) job at the Nature Conservancy, WWF, and the like. I’m still trying to work out if it is an anglo-saxon thing, because this attitude is completely absent from students I have dealt with in Germany and India.

Third (and frankly, the greatest threat to my mental health) are the Kenyan students in western universities (they combine the worst of the 2 above categories).They want to impress their peers and teachers with their knowledge, but don’t want to quote an African name in their writings. This is because they want to show their hosts how much they have embraced the knowledge being imparted on them, and they also want to reassure the host that the scholarship is ‘developing Africa’ and that there is no substantial knowledge that preexisted what he or she is going to take ‘back home’. They always want to do these zoom interviews and ask ‘casual’ questions on serious policy issues in a manner that cannot be referenced in any literature. The most vexing part of this is the ubiquitous reference to time (‘The interview will take 45 minutes of your time’). It takes an intellectual invertebrate not to realize that the knowledge they are seeking to pilfer from me took over 20 years to gain.

This isn’t ignorance, it is hubris and internalized prejudice. Most importantly, this particular scholar won’t stand for it

This post is just to rebuke those whose pretensions of academic work irritate us. There are the wonderful ones who ask to be supervised, who quote our works, challenge our writings, and even write to us asking for clarifications of our work. The ones who listen to our talks and conversations and reach out to us. You’re the reason we do all this. Aluta continua.