Anatomy of a Paranoid, Prejudiced Cult…
Many of my friends, particularly those from outside the conservation sector have been puzzled by the silence that has followed the release of the “Stealth Game” report by the Oakland institute https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/stealth-game-community-conservancies-devastate-northern-kenya. This, my friends, is because you people mistakenly imagine that conservationists in Kenya are normal, functional human beings. They are NOT, and the rational ones are fewer than 5%, the scientific threshold for statistical significance. For those of us who know them well, we can read and interpret this silence to a high level of accuracy. First of all, rest assured that everyone who need to see the report has done so, including government officials at both county and national level. I personally forwarded it to an official at the highest levels of government, and the response I got was “thank you”, at least admitting to have seen it. Interestingly, two senior county government officers also forwarded the report to me, leaving me wondering what exactly they see as their role in the whole scandal, as opposed to mine as an individual. The silence is only in the public sphere. I have direct contacts in a lot of private spaces where there is a lot of wailing, gnashing of teeth and breaking of wind as a result of this report.
The key point we all need to understand here is that people are in trouble- bringing to mind that uniquely American expression about faecal material hitting a fan and splattering everyone in the vicinity. Here’s why; A couple of years ago, a few colleagues and I visited the US house of representatives in Washington DC to present a memorandum on abuses of human rights in central Africa by WWF under the guise of conservation, an issue we also brought to the attention of various European legislatures. It has taken time, but the cosh has come down on WWF, culminating in a Senate hearing earlier this year, which has severely tightened the screws on them. First of all, the consternation that has greeted the report is disingenuous, because none of this information is new- it is simply saying the same things that myself and a few colleagues have been pointing out since 2016.
The conservation sector in Kenya routinely dismisses any questions from black Africans and the consternation is because the report is coming from an American institution, and cannot be dismissed on racial grounds. An amusing anecdote I’ve heard from one of the conservation groups is “This is just the usual noise from Mordecai Ogada”… then another member says “No, its from the Oakland institute in the US” then all hell breaks loose with people crying “Oh my God, what are we going to do??”. In a separate forum, a senior participant (who obviously hadn’t read the report) dismissed it as lacking credibility “Since the only source of such information is Mordecai Ogada (again!!??). Another participant pointed out that it was the result of over 2 years’ research and she changed tack attacking the author Anuradha Mittal on her racial and family background. The bizarre thing is that this woman is also from the same racial background! Many people will find this bizarre, but I don’t. Our conservation sector is so steeped in racial and ethnic prejudice that it’s shameful. Apart from dealing with people who don’t want to hear me because I am black, I’ve had to deal with indigenous Kenyans who routinely tell me to keep off wildlife issues in Northern Kenya because I am a Luo from Western Kenya!