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, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
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?
On 21 July 2021, at 14:42, Mordecai Ogada <email@example.com> 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
On Wed, 21 Jul 2021, 18:45 Alan, <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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,
Mordecai Ogada <email@example.com>
Jul 21, 2021, 6:48 PM (3 days ago)
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.