I am super glad to share with members of the ANEH family the superlative abstract sent in as part of the panel being proposed for the 3rd World Conference in Environmental History taking place in Brazil early next year. See below. Members are encouraged to send in their abstracts as soon as possible as the deadline approaches. Moreover, we have space for only four more abstracts.
Saving Africa from Africans: Resisting colonial models of conservation around Kenya’s Nyandarwa Forest
The Nyandarwa [Aberdare] forest is one of the key five forested ecosystems in Kenya. It is surrounded by the Agikuyu people on whose traditional territory it seats. This protected area was created in the colonial period and comprises of a national park, and forest reserve. Its creation marked the beginning of Agikuyu dislocation from their landscape. This began what has been an antagonistic relationship between government authorities (from the colonial period through to the post-independence period). In an attempt to address past injustices, Kenya reviewed its forest policies in 2005, and now seeks to engage with surrounding communities in forest governance. This paper seeks to discuss how Agikuyu people-forest relationships have shifted through time; from the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-independence epochs. These relationships will be juxtaposed with the values that are promoted by the government and conservationists. The author will demonstrate that there has been a sustained struggle at the community level to resist pristine wilderness preservationist doctrines, starting with the 1950s Mau Mau struggle for self-determination. Further, the author will show how communities have self-mobilized to protect their landscape, and how identities are shaped through the forest and land. In the end, the author will make a case for honest dialogue and engagement with communities, as a critical ingredient protection of forests, arguably one of the world’s most threatened resources.
Key words: Forests; land; land-use; colonialism; governance; Nyandarwa; Kenya