Maasai Community of Laikipia
Photographs by Tom Rankin
In July I traveled to Kenya with Wend Wendland of the World Intellectural Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva and Guha Shankar of the American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress to continue our project to assist the Maasai community of Laikipia in documenting their own culture. Working with the Maasai Cultural Heritage, we spent nine days training Maasai to document their own community, producing new images and audio recordings that will help preserve and protect Maasai creativity and history. The fundamental goal of the project is to build an archive about the Maasai by the Maasai, supplementing and countering the many ways in which the tribe has been “pictured” by others.
In addition to the partnership between WIPO, AFC, and CDS, we also worked closely with Kiprop Lagat of the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi, another major partner. Our time in Kenya, where we stayed in the Il Ngwesi community, was a continuation of training begun in Washington and at CDS last year when Ann Tome Sintoyia and John Ole Tingoi, both of Maasai Cultural Heritage, and Kiprop Lagat visited here.
In a community ceremony, under the shade of a majestic acacia tree, still cameras, audio recorders, and computer equipment for supporting a digital archive, all provided by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), were formally handed over Chief Kisio and other elders of the Maasai community.
Director, Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University
Articles about the Project
“Who Owns the Image of the Maasai?” by Philip Ngunjiri (The East African, posted August 24, 2009)
For additional information, please contact Tom Rankin.