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.


Many young conservationists (particularly those who have found it difficult to serve the house of Windsor and other paranoid avenues of ‘Whiteness’) have often asked me about how they can do this, and how I have managed. First, you need to understand that the conservation civil society in Kenya is a miasma of corruption that defies belief. There is a reason why when Kenyans bemoan corruption, you won’t hear any voices from this sector.

In 2016, when I was still naïve, I got on the website of African Wildlife Foundation, put my name on the ‘prequalification list’ (yes, they did have prequalification) and did a technical and financial proposal for the next consultancy advertised. I got no response, but a couple of weeks later, almost at the deadline, I received an email from a random ‘management’ firm telling me they got my contact from someone at AWF and complimenting me on my qualifications and asking me to join their team! He attached their proposal and I easily recognized the technical elements from the proposal I had submitted. I refused, but I woke up.

TAKE HOME LESSON:- Any Conservation NGO who asks you to do (a) A financial proposal and (b) A technical proposal are dishonest. They have funding, but zero brains or skills to do the work, so they are looking to steal your skills. These 2 proposals are the key parts of any project, and if you submit them, the project can easily be done by any overpaid high school dropout. The email string below is one I did last week for sport, and to demonstrate this lesson to a friend of mine.

Water Quality Consultancy


Mordecai Ogada <>Wed, Apr 7, 10:53 AM (6 days ago)

Good Morning, I am writing to you in reference to a consultancy being offered by XXX for Mapping Of Water Quality and Quantity in Laikipia, Isiolo and Samburu Counties. I am a conservation policy expert with over 10 years’ experience in the said area (See CV attached) and I am offering my services for this project.

Please contact me if XXX would like to procure my services and we can take the discussion forward from there.

Kind regards

Mordecai Ogada

Dr. Mordecai O. Ogada
P.O. Box 880-10400

XXXWed, Apr 7, 10:59 AM (6 days ago)
to me

Hello Ogada,

Kindly use below link to make application;

Mapping Of Water Quality and Quantity in Laikipia, Isiolo and Samburu Counties – https:xxxxxx



Mordecai Ogada <>Wed, Apr 7, 11:28 AM (6 days ago)

Dear XXX thanks for the prompt reply. I had actually written to you because I had looked at the link, and I was surprised to see that it asked for applicants to prepare 2 crucial components of the study:

1. Financial Proposal (detailed itemized budget)

2. Technical Proposal (Technical and analytical methodology)

As a scientist I can tell you that these are the 2 most difficult and taxing parts of any study because it determines performance and outcomes. Am I supposed to donate this to XXX as a free service before being recruited? That is like asking a contractor to build you a house as an application for a contract. If you dont award him the contract, you remain with the house.

As a professional, I find that unethical. If XXX needs my services, I have given my CV and I am available, but if I take my profession seriously, I cannot offer technical services for free, while knowing that the client has received a grant for the same.

Kind Regards

Mordecai Ogada

XXXWed, Apr 7, 11:34 AM (6 days ago)
to me

Hello Ogada,

The Technical proposal is a basic document (Max 10 pages) to detail how you intend to carry out the assignment. We use this to evaluate the different consultants expressions of interest and if we find your proposal matching our needs, then we will engage you to implement the assignment.

If not suitable, we discard and will not use it according to the EU GDPR regulations.

Mordecai Ogada <>Wed, Apr 7, 11:44 AM (6 days ago)
to XXX

Hi Again, Thanks for your response. Information/ data is the new ‘gold’ in today’s world. This is highly technical and valuable information and nobody in the world (least of all SNV) is going to ‘discard’ it because they aren’t using it at this time. Actually, once I give the technical proposal, its like an architectural design, and the consultancy + my methodology + my budget can be given to anyone. You would not need to hire me.

No thank you. When XXX want a serious consultant for this assignment, you have my contacts.

Good day to you,

Mordecai Ogada

XXXWed, Apr 7, 11:52 AM (6 days ago)
to me

Your email is not in good taste Dr. Ogada.

If how SNV does it’s business does not please you as a professional, just ignore the advert and move on, there’s no need to go to the below extent.

KNOW what you wear, and OWN it

Today’s lesson is about beadwork amongst pastoralist communities. In the course of a discussion earlier today, I realized how few people are aware of the poisoned chalice that lies within this apparently innocuous activity that produces such beautiful items. First, we must understand context. The beadwork used for adornment is amazing in its beauty and variety. It is a crucial part of those cultures in identifying people, families, age groups, marital status etc. So many bonds are created by the exchange of these items as gifts, etc. This is GOOD. Now to beadwork as a tool in conservation projects. Here, it is a problem, and this is why- It is relentlessly pushed and harped on by foreign conservation pirates as a hoax to create the false impression amongst the Maa community that their culture is appreciated by these interlopers. It is NOT, because they take this small portion of Maa culture and reject the rest. They use beadwork as one of the so-called ‘alternative livelihoods’ yet it never was a livelihood. They pay pittances to women (I’ve heard figures like Sh. 45/- per hour, but I stand to be corrected if someone has more accurate figures) who spend whole days away from home. What is the price of a rural woman’s role in the home? What is the cost in lost care for her home? In lost tactile contact with her children? Certainly NOT 45/- (For the non-kenyans, that is 45 US cents). Let me state it here- the principle behind all these ‘alternative’ livelihoods is to get pastoralists away from livestock, where their power, pride, wealth and identity lie. CONservation science keeps saying livestock are bad, they are degrading the environment we need them out of “our” rangelands. I have never seen livestock walking around on their own without humans, so this is just a euphemism for them wanting pastoralists out of the rangelands that are their birthright! Livestock is the one part of Maa culture they HATE because it is the glue that binds you to your homelands. A Samburu (for example) who has no livestock will never go to Samburu. What is he going to do or see there? Same applies to all pastoralist communities- once you have been labelled ‘bandits’ your cows called ‘scrawny animals’ and starved by fences, if not shot by security forces, you will leave for Narok, Nairobi, Isiolo, Nanyuki and other towns and never go back. The rangelands will be called “protected areas” and remain as the domain of the pirates. To add insult to injury, they sell this beadwork abroad for hefty profits. One snapshot of this duplicity; A Spanish company called ‘pikolinos’ which has a ‘Maasai Project’ where they fly leather from spain (carbon footprint, anyone?) to be beaded by Maasai women in Kenya and sold for top dollar back in Europe. They love the beadwork so much that they fly leather from Europe to be worked on but they hate your pastoralism so much that they would never empower you by using hides from your animals. Other lodges demand that their employees dress in full traditional regalia and beadwork, yet they dont want to see a single cow or goat anywhere in the horizon. What witchcraft is this? Somebody told me that a beadwork project has made some women ‘self sufficient’. Pray what were they eating before the saviour came? These are women who have homes and have raised children, and someone suddenly thinks he is their ‘daddy’?? SMH
So, should you buy Maasai beadwork/ trinkets? Yes, of course! But just buy from your local makers and sellers. Avoid the ones sold by foreign projects that claim to ‘empower’ women, blah blah. These ones will be very costly in terms of the number of ritual sacrifices needed to exorcise the demons that feed on their production chain. We have such a long way to go.

Conservation thoughts from Kenya 2019…

Under the current conservation paradigm and structures in Africa (which was developed nearly a century ago, A black man’s place is to be a RANGER, enforcing western created policies against his own brothers, not unlike the case of colonial homeguards. Here in Kenya, KWS still doesn’t contribute to policy formulation, although they sit in the meetings and are expected to implement and enforce policy. Here are cases in point;
1. The corporate communications officer regularly reported donations to KWS. These include; a fleet of landcruisers from USAID, scenes of crime kits from AWF, Laptops for prosecutors from Space for Giants, and most recently advanced flight training for pilots from some American animal welfare group so they can better track and shoot poachers. I’m not aware of any donor giving funds for policy training, advanced human dimensions training, or studies in indigenous conservation norms. Black people in conservation in Africa are not supposed to think.
2. Last year KWS advertised for a new Director-General, then later re-advertised LOWERING the required qualifications. I speculate that too many highly qualified candidates applied (I know of 3 PhD holders). Its a crisis, and they desperately need a black person, but with lesser credentials. I also speculate that donors were behind the decision to re-advertise, because I refuse to believe there was no candidate in the initial round worth hiring. Black people in conservation in Africa are not supposed to think. In the final analysis, they hired a military officer.
3. I have seen regular ceremonies held to give (richly deserved awards) to the best and bravest rangers (some posthumous). Where are the awards for the best scientists? The awards for the rangers who maintain friendly relations with local communities? The best conservation policy ideas? We only award those who excelled in the arena of violence. I repeat- Black people in conservation in Africa are not supposed to think.
3. Senior staff are regularly taken for security training, including courses at the National Defense College, yet they are law enforcers, not military. Are they ever taken for conservation philosophy and ethics training? Has any donor ever offered to fund such an exercise? I don’t think so. Once more- Black people in conservation in Africa are not supposed to think.
The donors are busy ‘dumbing us down’ hence the raucous promotion of an African conference on protected areas. Why not a conference on conservation in egalitarian societies? Protected Areas today are an anachronism or throwback to days when locals had no rights. We shouldn’t create new ones and only keep the existing ones because they are part of our history and heritage, but donors realize that will make black people think that they own Africa’s landscapes. They want to create more, and expand the physical and intellectual empire.
I publicly offered to train Senior KWS (and Ministry!) staff on New Ethical Paradigms in Conservation philosophy.

It is 2021, and KWS never took up this offer. For the record, it is still open

More Coming!

Thanks for visiting! This is the spot where I share my thoughts on what goes on in the small part of the world that I observe… As always, my prayer is that people can find useful lessons here.