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Investigating people-forest relationships around central Kenya's Nyandarwa forest reserve : understanding… Borona , Gloria Kendi 2017

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 INVESTIGATING PEOPLE-FOREST RELATIONSHIPS AROUND CENTRAL KENYA’S NYANDARWA FOREST RESERVE:  UNDERSTANDING THEIR SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS   by Gloria Kendi Borona   B.E.S., Kenyatta University, 2004 M.B.A., University of Nairobi, 2009  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Forestry)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)   November 2017  © Gloria Kendi Borona, 2017 ii  Abstract  This study explored how people-forest relationships are forged around Kenya’s Nyandarwa Forest Reserve, and how Indigenous Knowledge Systems of Agĩkũyũ people around the Reserve might contribute to healthy, sustainable people-forest relationships in light of the country’s changing social, economic, and political situations. The study sought to examine:1) how the indigenous communities around Nyandarwa Forest Reserve traditionally understood and sustained interdependencies with the forest; 2) how these interdependencies have transformed consistent with Kenya’s post-independence changes in social, economic, and political situations; 3) to what extent local, national, and international efforts to promote healthy sustainable people-forest relationships are incorporating local communities’ Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS); and, 4) how these communities’ IKS might inform the proposition of an environmental conservation framework for sustainable people-forest relationships. The study was guided by post-colonial indigenous research paradigms anchored in decolonizing methodologies. These methodologies were buttressed by indigenous theories that consider communities as spiritual beings with multiple relations. The study was informed by the traditions and cultural heritage of the Agĩkũyũ people, and augmented by Afrocentric philosophies that underlie African ways of knowing and value systems. Data were collected from community groups, elders, the Kenya Forest Service, and archives. The data corpus was analyzed using NVIVO consistent with the study’s theoretical framework and generated themes that address the research questions. In addition, the research participants contributed to the process as this study sought to elevate the community to the role of co-researchers and to create mutually beneficial long-term relationships. Results show that the pre-colonial manifestation of Agĩkũyũ people-forest relationships were understood through land, that land continues to be a central pillar of Agĩkũyũ indigenous environmental thought, and that one of the historical values of the forest is its role in sustaining the struggle for independence. Further, the study reveals that some indigenous practices tied to sacred sites and food sovereignty have endured, different governance regimes have shifted the way people-forest relationships are iii  constructed, and the Agĩkũyũ have been continuously mobilizing to protect their landscape. In the end, this study suggests how IKS can contribute to forging sustainable people-forest relationships, arguably the planet’s most threatened resource.    iv  Lay Summary  This study sought to understand how the Agĩkũyũ people of central Kenya interact with forested landscapes using local knowledge. The main goal of the study was to explore how to apply this knowledge to ensure that forests support community livelihoods, and to inquire into how communities can nourish forests. Results show that the Agĩkũyũ people do not see the forest as a place that is set apart from them, but rather as a part of their larger landscape. Further, local knowledge is produced and nourished by interacting with the land. Some of the active applications of local knowledge are in the recognition of the forest’s role as a site for the war against colonialism, and in seed saving and food production practices, all of which are directly tied to forest conservation. Finally, the study shows that the Agĩkũyũ have been working to protect their landscape for over 100 years.   v  Preface  This dissertation is an original, unpublished, independent work by Gloria Kendi Borona.  This study obtained the approval of the UBC Research Ethics Board (Behavioural Research Ethics Board; UBC BREB Number: H15-02401), and that of the Kenya National Commission for Science, Technology, and Innovation (permit no. p/15/3889/8381).   vi  Table of Contents  Abstract .......................................................................................................................... ii Lay Summary ................................................................................................................ iv Preface ........................................................................................................................... v Table of Contents ......................................................................................................... vi List of Tables .............................................................................................................. xiii List of Figures ............................................................................................................ xiv List of Abbreviations .................................................................................................. xvi Acknowledgements ................................................................................................... xvii Dedication .................................................................................................................... xx Chapter 1: Introduction ................................................................................................. 1 1.1 Context and research questions ......................................................................... 1 1.2 Background ........................................................................................................ 4 1.2.1 Forest management: The Kenyan context ................................................. 4 1.2.2 The study site: The Nyandarwa Forest Reserve within the Aberdare Conservation Area .................................................................................................... 6 1.3 The Agĩkũyũ people .......................................................................................... 10 1.3.1 The coming of “outsiders” ........................................................................ 13 1.3.2 British settlement on Gĩkũyũ territory ....................................................... 16 1.4 Land tenure: A national perspective ................................................................. 20 1.5 Justification for the study .................................................................................. 21 1.5.1 Indigenous knowledge in conservation .................................................... 22 1.5.2 An examination of African epistemology .................................................. 25 vii  1.6 My positionality ................................................................................................. 29 Chapter 2: Literature review and theoretical framework ......................................... 34 2.1 Introduction ....................................................................................................... 34 2.2 Global conservation discourse and IKS ............................................................ 34 2.3 Historical perspectives of conservation ............................................................ 36 2.4 Community engagement: Conservation with a human face.............................. 40 2.5 Traditional territories and IKS: This land is our land ......................................... 41 2.6 From ‘Pristine wildernesses’ to a cultural landscape approach ........................ 42 2.7 Merging natural and cultural heritage ............................................................... 43 2.8 A path forward .................................................................................................. 45 2.9 Concepts and theory ........................................................................................ 46 2.9.1 The anti-colonial discursive framework .................................................... 49 Dismemberment and remembering ...................................................... 51 The anti-colonial thought and environmental philosophy of Thomas Sankara and Amilcar Cabral .............................................................................. 54 2.10 African ethnophilosophy ................................................................................. 61 2.10.1 Stories and proverbs ................................................................................ 62 2.10.2 Afrocentric relational ontologies, epistemologies, and axiologies............. 64 2.11 Reflecting on my own dismemberment ........................................................... 65 2.12 Chapter summary ........................................................................................... 71 Chapter 3: Methodology ............................................................................................. 73 3.1 Introduction ....................................................................................................... 73 3.2 Selection of participants ................................................................................... 75 viii  3.3 Researcher-community relationship building .................................................... 76 3.4 Methods of data elicitation ................................................................................ 85 3.4.1 Talking circles .......................................................................................... 85 3.4.2 Elder interviews ........................................................................................ 90 3.4.3 Interviews with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) ...................................... 93 3.4.4 Archival research ..................................................................................... 94 3.4.5 Joint community meeting: Metaphorical strategies ................................... 94 3.5 Data analysis .................................................................................................... 99 3.6 Addressing validity and reliability .................................................................... 100 3.7 Significance of the study ................................................................................. 102 3.8 Reflection on indigenous research methods ................................................... 103 3.9 Ethical considerations ..................................................................................... 106 3.10 Chapter summary ......................................................................................... 107 Chapter 4: Data analysis and findings: Agĩkũyũ people-forest relationships ..... 109 4.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................... 109 4.2 Agĩkũyũ story of origin .................................................................................... 112 4.3 Gĩkũyũ conception of land and forest(s) in the pre-colonial epoch  (before 1895) ........................................................................................................ 113 4.3.1 Tears from the mountains ...................................................................... 114 4.3.2 Rainfall weaves a tapestry of Agĩkũyũ livelihoods .................................. 117 4.3.3 The sacred Mũgumo tree ....................................................................... 117 4.3.4 Trees as embodied in Agĩkũyũ cultural heritage .................................... 120 4.3.5 Trees and justice .................................................................................... 122 ix  4.3.6 Gĩkũyũ conception of land and forest(s) ................................................. 122 4.4 The colonial epoch (1895-1963) ..................................................................... 123 4.4.1 Colonial forest protection practices and governance .............................. 123 4.4.2 Entrenching colonial legislation .............................................................. 126 4.4.3 Disintegration of community livelihoods ................................................. 129 4.4.4 The politics of naming: What is in a name? ............................................ 131 4.4.5 Wĩyathĩ twarutire Githaka/our independence was derived from the forest/land ............................................................................................................. 133 4.4.6 How the forests sustained the Mau Mau ................................................ 142 The forest as a source of food and medicine ..................................... 142 Forests as a base for military combat ................................................ 145 Trees as homes ................................................................................. 149 Communication strategies ................................................................. 149 The forest as citadel of hope and spiritual nourishment ..................... 150 Death in the forest .............................................................................. 152 4.5 The post-independence epoch (1963 to present) ........................................... 153 4.5.1 Post-independence presidency as evocative of forest connections ....... 153 The Jomo Kenyatta presidency (1963-1978) ..................................... 154 The Daniel Arap Moi presidency (1978-2002) ................................... 156 Community self-mobilization to protect the forest .............................. 160 The Green Belt Movement ................................................................. 161 Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta regimes (2002-2013-present) ........ 163 4.6 Tree planting ................................................................................................... 165 x  4.7 The sacred Mũgumo in a contemporary setting .............................................. 168 4.8 Chapter summary ........................................................................................... 169 Chapter 5: Data analysis and findings: Agĩkũyũ people-forest relationships and Indigenous Knowledge Systems ............................................................................. 171 5.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................... 171 5.2 Positioning the Agĩkũyũ on the land through food .......................................... 173 5.3 Memorializing the landscape through food ..................................................... 181 5.4 Food production in the colonial & flag Independence epochs ........................ 183 5.5 Towards a cultural resurgence: Gĩkũyũ food sovereignty ............................... 192 5.5.1 Seed Sovereignty ................................................................................... 197 5.5.2 Firewood and food systems ................................................................... 200 5.5.3 Planting and propagating indigenous trees seeds .................................. 201 5.5.4 Indigenous Gĩkũyũ pest control .............................................................. 203 5.5.5 Indigenous Gĩkũyũ plants in food and medicine ..................................... 206 5.5.6 Indigenous trees and food ...................................................................... 207 5.5.7 Indigenous fertilizers .............................................................................. 208 5.6 Sankaraism: “Our stomachs will make themselves heard.” ............................ 210 5.7 Cabralism: “Return to the source.” .................................................................. 213 5.8 Towards an environmental conservation framework for sustainable people–forest relationships ................................................................................................... 215 5.8.1 The wrong bus syndrome ....................................................................... 215 5.8.2 Re-chiselling the three-legged African stool ........................................... 217 xi  5.8.3 Towards Gũcokia rũhi mũkaro/finding our path: Re-chiselling the three-legged African stool .............................................................................................. 219 Education ........................................................................................... 222 Tree planting: Restoration of forests and protecting existing forests .. 223 Community mobilization ..................................................................... 224 5.9 Chapter summary ........................................................................................... 227 Chapter 6: Discussion and conclusion ................................................................... 230 6.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................... 230 6.2 “I am telling you, there was no forest”: Land as the centrepiece of Agĩkũyũ people-forest relationships ....................................................................................... 232 6.3 Sacred trees and spaces: The enduring legacy and potency of the Mũgumo among the Agĩkũyũ .................................................................................................. 235 6.4 Wĩyathĩ twarutire githaka!: Our independence was derived from the  forest/land ............................................................................................................. 237 6.5 Post-Independence regimes and forest governance ...................................... 244 6.6 Making compost of the pumpkin ..................................................................... 249 6.7 Implications for theory .................................................................................... 252 6.8 Implications for practice, policy, and activism ................................................. 253 6.9 Implications for future research ...................................................................... 255 6.10 Study limitations ........................................................................................... 256 6.11 Final thoughts ............................................................................................... 256 Bibliography .............................................................................................................. 259 Appendices ................................................................................................................ 281 xii  Appendix A  Questions to guide discussions. ....................................................... 281       Appendix B   Breakdown of participants by gender and geographic location ......... 285  xiii  List of Tables  Table 4.1 Themes defined according to research questions ....................................... 109  xiv  List of Figures  Figure 1.1 Map of study area. ......................................................................................... 8 Figure 1.2 Kipande. ....................................................................................................... 19 Figure 3.1 Touring the forest in eastern Nyandarwa. .................................................... 77 Figure 3.2 From left to right: a) Meeting with community members of the GBM in western Nyandarwa; b) author planting a tree; c) GBM women hoisting tree seedlings on each other’s backs; and d) GBM community member planting a tree. ..................... 80 Figure 3.3 Returning the pictures in western Nyandarwa. ............................................. 81 Figure 3.4 A talking circle with a participant holding a winnowing tray. ......................... 87 Figure 3.5 Participants demonstrate how to use some of the cultural objects. .............. 88 Figure 3.6 Elder interviews. ........................................................................................... 93 Figure 3.7 From left to right: a) Community group discussion; and b) a group member making a presentation. .................................................................................................. 98 Figure 3.8 From left to right: a) Demonstration of grafting using indigenous forest plants; and b) reflecting on proceedings using a ball of yarn. ................................................... 99 Figure 4.1 A sacred Mugumo tree. .............................................................................. 119 Figure 4.2 A Nyayo Tea Zone adjacent to the forest in eastern Nyandarwa. .............. 158 Figure 4.3 Eucalyptus trees in western Nyandarwa. ................................................... 166 Figure 4.4 Trees on private land. ................................................................................ 166 Figure 4.5 Vacant land (foreground) in which no trees have been planted. ................ 167 Figure 5.1 Tea farms in eastern Nyandarwa. .............................................................. 187 Figure 5.2 From left to right: a) Some of the food prepared during the workshop; and b) Women preparing food during the workshop. .............................................................. 193 xv  Figure 5.3 a) Participant displays indigenous maize seeds; b) Participant displays arrowroot seed; c) Githeri, an indigenous Gikuyu dish; and d) Potato seeds (you do not plant the big ones on the right but the smaller ones in the middle). ............................ 200 Figure 5.4 Mole trap. ................................................................................................... 204 Figure 5.5 From left to right clockwise: a) Elder shows indigenous tree seeds; b) Elder uses the sling to chase away pests/birds; and c) nursery bed of indigenous tree species. .................................................................................................................................... 205  xvi  List of Abbreviations  BREB: Behavioral Research and Ethics Board  CFA: Community Forest Association FAO: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations GBM: Green Belt Movement GMO: Genetically Modified Organisms IBEAC: Imperial British East African Company ICCA: Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas  IIED: International Institute for Environment and Development IKS: Indigenous Knowledge Systems ILO: International Labour Organization IUCN: International Union for the Conservation of Nature KFS: Kenya Forest Service KWS: Kenya Wildlife Service NACOSTI: National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation NGO’s: Non-Governmental Organizations  NTFPs: Non-Timber Forest Products PELIS: Plantation Establishment for Livelihood Improvement Scheme PRA: Participatory Rural Appraisal TEK: Traditional Ecological Knowledge UNEP: United National Environmental Programme UNESCO: United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization WRI: World Resources Institute xvii  Acknowledgements My PhD journey has illustrated to me the philosophy of Ubuntu in very concrete ways. We truly, indeed, become human in the midst of others. I have benefited from the support of many individuals and bodies who have contributed in diverse ways. I am greatly indebted to my supervisory committee, Dr. Rob Kozak, Dr. Joleen Timko, and Dr. Samson Nashon Madera. I thank you for your guidance, mentorship, constructive suggestions, encouragement, and patience. I have learnt a lot from all of you. I extend special thanks to the communities that I worked with in eastern and western Nyandarwa. You opened your homes, your hearts and minds to me. You taught and reminded me of the meaning of generosity, compassion, fortitude, resilience, and the absolute power of our stories. You made me feel proud to be African. You demonstrated to me that our Indigenous Knowledge Systems are as formidable as the Mũgumo – ever unbowed, ever unshaken, ever uncompromising, and ever green. Ninadekena mũno/I am so happy. I was supported by an excellent team of research assistants, who made my fieldwork a source of great joy. Samuel Gathu Mbugua, Simon Thuni Mwangi, Agnes Kawira Gitonga, and Simon Kimani; your knowledge and interest in this project were sources of great inspiration to me. Thank you for making it so easy to gain entry into the community. It says a lot about what kind of people you are. You commanded so much respect among all the communities we worked with. I respect you so much for this. I will always carry with me all the memories of our trips into forests and homes, our drives, and so much laughter. I thank UBC staff for supporting me through this journey. I would like to mention Gayle Kosh, Heather Mulligan, and Nikki Li for your support with administrative matters, and Winfield Liu for helping with computer related challenges. I also thank Susannah Macandless for editing my thesis and for career guidance and friendship. I thank my colleagues at the FACT lab. I have benefited from our various discussions and the relationships that have blossomed over the years. Ana Elia Ramon Hildago, it will always be fun exploring the various dimensions of life’s joys and struggles with you. Fernanda Tomaselli, your energy and spirit are very inspiring to me. xviii  Andrea Vasquez, thank you for leading me to the path of indigenous research methods; what an eye opening adventure it has been! Mariko Molander, thank you for your encouragement to stay on the path of decoloniality – Aluta continua! Meike Seigner, I thank you for your sustained encouragement and faith in me. D’Arcy Davis Case, thank you for always opening your home to me; it has been a great space to be with and in nature, and to share thoughts on global environmental issues. I am also greatly inspired by your passion for justice.  I thank my family and friends for their unwavering support. I especially thank my mother Grace Borona for always encouraging me to pursue my dreams. Your support has helped me stay the course. Sincere thanks to my father, brothers, aunties, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. I thank my father for emphasizing to us that education will be our inheritance. I have walked the distance and I appreciate the boundless wisdom that is carried in that statement with greater appreciation. To my grandmother, thank you for steeping me in the cultures of our people. My auntie Nkatha Mwirigi – your struggle is my struggle. Special thanks to Robert and Judy Kobia for opening their home in Canada to me. It has truly been a home away from home. So many friends have supported me along the way. Aneeta Gauchan, you have been more than a sister and friend. All this would have been impossible without your companionship. Namaste! Selina Makana, thank you for walking this journey with me. Effie Thion’go, you pushed me to keep my eyes on the ball. Hollie Warner, your friendship and support has been such a joy. Ashenafi Alemu, Cecilia Mutanu, Pauline Kariuki, Gilbert Ndungu, Emmanuel Ndiema, Mercy Njeru, Prince Adu, Betty Ackah, Lucy Muthoka, Sally Kanini, Andrea Lyall, Monika Singh, Ajith Chandran, Ndukuyakhe Ndlovu, Pascall Taruvinga, Peter Gould, Murithi Mutiga, Shalom Addo-Danso, I thank you all for you for your encouragement.  I wish to thank the University of British of Columbia (UBC) for the Graduate Global Fellowship which enabled to undertake this PhD. Further, I thank UBC for their support through the Public Scholars Initiative (PSI), whose support enabled me to conduct my fieldwork. The PSI has also been a great learning opportunity on what doctoral research work should be about. I thank Dr. Susan Porter and Dr. Jenny Phelps xix  for all your work on ‘Reimagining the PhD’. I also thank the Rufford Small Grants for funding my fieldwork. I express my sincere gratitude to all those mentioned above and those that have not been mentioned. This journey has been eye-opening, min-expanding, heart-expanding, and so much more. Asanteni. Ibweya.   xx  Dedication To my grandmother, Sarah Corũi. As our people sing:  Uthambwe na iria/may you be bathed in milk, Uthambwe na naicũ/may you be bathed in honey!  Your love has always brought me utmost joy.1  Chapter 1: Introduction 1.1 Context and research questions    The most exciting and unsettling periods in culture are those uniquely creative times when humanity’s fundamental story becomes inadequate to its critical questions. By all evidence, ours is such as time. New ideas take things that before, seemed separate, even opposite and invite us to think in terms of some larger more dynamic fashion while bridging new ways of being towards a new cultural maturity. (Fatnowna & Pickett, 2002, p. 67)  The 1972 United Nations conference on the human environment placed the environment on the world’s agenda. Since then, various global agreements and protocols have been formulated with an aim of resolving the ever-escalating global environmental crises and attaining sustainable living. Incorporation of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) into resource use and conservation has been put forth as an important intervention in establishing a coherent and potent approach to promoting sustainable living and environmental sustainability (Christensen, 2014; Lertzman, 2010; Maathai, 2010; Pierotti & Wildcat, 2000). In recognizing this inevitable paradigm shift, Olusanya (2012) states that there is a growing global recognition that these knowledge systems can bring forth a rich legacy of intergenerational and contextual knowing, which has proven invaluable in the management of the environment over the centuries, as well as in providing a model from which we can learn not only about the earth but also the cosmos. Despite this increased global recognition of the value of IKS, their application in environmental conservation has yet to be fully understood or adequately integrated into environmental resource management (Adam, 2012; Huntington, 2000; IUCN, 2014; Ongugo, 2007).  Forests are central to addressing global environmental challenges, such as climate change, protection of biodiversity, desertification, food insecurity, health, and other livelihood functions. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (2012), there is growing awareness that an economy based on the exponentially increasing depletion of natural resources such as forests is unsustainable. Therefore, there is need for new ways of thinking about progress and development, and forest sustainability should be central to any meaningful transition (FAO, 2012). Yet, 2  today forests remain a resource under immense pressure globally. The World Resources Institute (WRI) estimates that the world lost more than 500 million acres of forests between 2000 and 2012 (WRI, 2014). In Kenya, for instance, forest resources have historically been a constant feature in the national discourse. The government of Kenya has over the years employed diverse strategies to protect its forest ecosystems countrywide. Some of these strategies have included: the Shamba system; the Nyayo Tea Zones; and the Plantation Establishment for Livelihood Improvement Scheme (PELIS). In the Shamba system, the landless were encouraged to cultivate crops on previously cleared forest land on the condition that they tended their crops alongside tree seedlings. The Shamba system has been repeatedly abolished and re-introduced since the 1950’s through to the present day. In 2011, it was re-branded as ‘PELIS’ and re-introduced on a pilot basis. The Nyayo Tea Zones were established in 1986 with the aim of promoting forest conservation by providing a buffer zone of tea to check against human encroachment into forest reserves. Establishment of these tea belts entailed clearing of indigenous forests and loss of forest land. In addition, some of the areas that were cleared were found not suitable for tea cultivation and remained de-forested (Kenya Forest Service (KFS), 2010). Despite these efforts, deforestation and forest degradation remain national challenges. The gazetted1 forests cover a total area of 1.4 million hectares, representing about 1.7% of the total Kenyan land area. This does not meet the internationally recommended minimum of 10% of country forest cover (Musyoki, Mugwe, Mutundu & Muchiri, 2013). Therefore, improving forest cover and reducing forest destruction and degradation have now surfaced as significant features in Kenya’s development strategy, underscored by the increased attention to climate change. Central to this is the Government’s recognition of the critical role played by forest-adjacent communities in ensuring that tree cover in the country is maintained above current levels (Musyoki et al., 2013). Community involvement in the management of resources is consistent with international practices in conservation (UNESCO, 2007). There is a general consensus that sustainable development will not be achieved by sidelining resource-dependent                                                  1 Designated for protection by the relevant government agency. 3  communities from conservation initiatives (Adam, 2012; IUCN, 2002; Maathai, 2010; UNESCO, n.d.).  FAO (2014, para. 1) points out that “It is time for forestry to shift perspective from trees to people, both for data collection and policy making.” To this end, knowledge held by communities becomes a critical entry point the world over towards establishing mutually beneficial collaborations within the framework of honest engagement (Borona, 2014). In the same vein, recognizing the inadequacies of research, the Aberdare [Nyandarwa] management plan in Kenya indicates that:  Most of the research has been conducted by external researchers with minimal involvement of the local community. Very little information is available at the local level. The community members have a lot of indigenous knowledge, which can be documented [emphasis added]. Endeavours to involve the community in research should contribute to both their welfare and that of the forest reserve. (Kenya Forest Service2 (KFS), 2012, p. 31)   This statement reinforces my desire to conduct research that is culturally appropriate, as well as research that is grounded in the desire to fully engage communities as co-researchers, with a goal of achieving sustainable people-forest relationships. By sustainable people-forest relationships, I mean a situation in which forests meet the human needs of communities living around them and in turn these communities respect the needs of the forest as well – a mutually synergistic relationship.  According to Mutangah (2015), modern trends characterized by migration from rural to urban areas, education systems, diets, medical care, and environmental changes have all contributed to the vulnerable and endangered state of indigenous knowledge systems. Ite (2003, para. 21) argues that:  Harmony between people and forests requires global and national forest managers to learn from local resource users by collectively challenging the prevailing received wisdom and negative views on the structural dynamism, policy relevance and scientific validity of local knowledge and local institutions in forest resource management.                                                   2 Kenya Forest Service (KFS) is a state corporation in charge of forest management in Kenya. 4  Indeed, as Fatnowna and Pickett (2002, p. 67) quoted at the beginning of this chapter write, IKS can make a significant contribution to “humanity’s fundamental story” and bridge “new ways of being towards a new cultural maturity.” Against this background, this study was framed to explore how people-forest relationships around the Nyandarwa Forest Reserve in Kenya and how local indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) might contribute to healthy, sustainable people-forest relationships in light of Kenya’s changing social, economic, and political situations.  The study was guided by the following questions:     How have the indigenous communities around Nyandarwa Forest Reserve traditionally understood and sustained interdependencies with the forest?  How have these interdependencies transformed over time consistent with Kenya’s post-independence changes in social, economic, and political situations?  To what extent are the local, national, and international efforts to promote healthy sustainable people-forest relationships incorporating local communities’ IKS?   How the might these communities' IKS inform the proposition of an environmental conservation framework for sustainable people-forest relationships?  1.2 Background   This section will highlight the dynamics of forest management in the Kenyan context. This will be followed by a discussion on the study site.   1.2.1 Forest management: The Kenyan context  Kenya boasts of some of the most diverse forest ecosystems in East Africa, comprising coastal, rain, riverine, and montane forests that are biologically diverse and contain numerous local endemic species (Peltorinne, 2004). Prominent in Kenya’s landscape are five major forest ecosystems known as ‘water towers’: the Mau Forest Complex; Mount Kenya, the Aberdare [Nyandarwa]; Mount Elgon; and Cherangani forests. These forests deliver vital services, such as clean water, timber, fuel, and food, 5  directly to rural communities. In Kenya, over 90% of all water comes from these forested mountains and 70% of electrical power generation is derived from rivers that flow from these forests (UNEP, 2009). Ongugo (2007) argues that forest management challenges in Kenya have, to a large extent, been linked to policy formulation. From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, for example, there was an unprecedented acceleration in the destruction of forests in Kenya, which was largely blamed on a lack of appropriate and all-inclusive forest policy and legislation.  According to KFS (2007), the policies and legislation used to manage forest resources were developed in 1957 by the colonial government, changing only slightly after independence in 1968. This approach to forest governance was considered repressive and inconsiderate to less advantaged members of the various communities living in and around forest ecosystems. Thus, local communities yearned for policies and laws that would recognize and include them in the governance of the country’s forests (Ongugo, 2007). As an attempt to address this yearning, the new Kenyan constitution promulgated in August 2010 has formulated a new resource management system which significantly alters Kenya’s socio-cultural, political, legal, and economic spheres (Adam, 2012). The constitution now explicitly requires the government to involve communities in conserving and managing lands and ecosystems, thus opening more space for dialogue and deeper recognition of communities and their respective cultures (Wily, 2010). Other national laws, for example, the National Museums and Heritage Act 2006, Forest conservation and management Act 2016, the Participation in Sustainable Forest Management Rules 2009, the Environmental Management and Coordination Act 1999, and Environmental Management and Co-ordination Regulations 2006, recognize and encourage community participation in protecting ecosystems (Adam, 2012). In 2007, Kenya underwent a major change in the operationalization of the Forests Act 2005, creating an opportunity for communities to be involved in forest management through Community Forest Associations (CFAs) by embracing the participatory forest management approach. The Forests Act 2005 has been replaced by the Forests Conservation and Management Act of 2016, which aligns itself with the 6  provisions of the 2010 Kenyan Constitution. This legislation is a welcome paradigm shift from command-and-control towards greater participation and stakeholder engagement in forest management and conflict resolution over forest resources. CFAs are expected to play a critical role in safeguarding forests through protection and conservation activities. They are, in turn, supposed to receive revenues from timber and non-timber products, as well as from community-based industries ecotourism, recreation, scientific, and educational activities (Mogoi, Obonyo, Ongugo, Odera & Mwangi, 2012). This community engagement model is expected to contribute to poverty reduction, employment creation, and improvement of livelihoods through sustainable use, conservation, and management of forests. According to Ongugo (2007), there is vast potential in the indigenous knowledge of the members of the CFAs, since they have lived in and adjacent to the forest for a long time. The elders in the community often know the tree species in the forest, their uses, abundance, and diversity; such knowledge is important in education, research, and ecotourism. This, in addition to other local knowledge on timber and non-timber products, can position the community better as co-managers of the forest ecosystems with the Kenya Forest Service (Ongugo, 2007). There is growing recognition that the use and promotion of conventional scientific methods of forest conservation alone are not sufficient. Perhaps the answers to the environmental challenges we face reside with communities and within knowledge embedded in IKS and other local knowledge systems working alongside and/or with scientific management regimes. This calls for honest engagement with local communities in a constructive manner to establish a common ground and long-term solutions. This is especially critical in the African context, where environmental resources still remain a sophisticated pedestal around which culture, religion, livelihoods, and governance are constructed (Borona, 2014).  1.2.2 The study site: The Nyandarwa Forest Reserve within the Aberdare Conservation Area  The Aberdare Conservation Area (ACA) is a volcanic, mountainous, and forested landscape that forms the easternmost wall of the Great Rift Valley, to the east of the 7  high Kinangop/Laikipia plateau in central Kenya. It is on the tentative list for inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its outstanding universal value (UNESCO, 2014). According to UNESCO (2014, para. 1):  The ACA is one of the most impressive landscapes of Eastern Africa, with its unique vegetation, rugged terrain, streams and waterfalls that create an area of great scenic beauty…its high moorlands and diverse forests demonstrate exceptional ecological processes.  This conservation area is comprised of a national park (Aberdare National Park) and a forest reserve (Aberdare Forest Reserve), both managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Kenya Forest Service (KFS). The forest reserve is the study site. I will refer to the Aberdare Forest Reserve as the Nyandarwa Forest Reserve throughout the thesis because that is the Agĩkũyũ name for the landscape. The National Park lies above the tree line, with some forest and scrub at lower altitudes. It is renowned for “its torrential waterfalls plunging from cloud-shrouded heights to spray-filled ravines” (UNESCO, 2014, para. 2). The Nyandarwa Forest Reserve occupies the lower slopes and almost surrounds the park (see Figure 1.1). Covering an area of 149,822.03 hectares, the Nyandarwa forest is one of Kenya's five "water towers" and plays a critical role in supporting the country's economy (KFS 2010; UNEP, 2009). It provides water to feed four out of Kenya’s six drainage basins: the Indian Ocean; Lorian Swamp; Lake Naivasha; and Sasumua and Ndakaini dam (the latter supplies all the water to Nairobi City, Kenya’s capital). In addition, it also supplies water for irrigation and domestic purposes to the major towns in the neighbouring regions. Together with Mount Kenya, the Nyandarwa Forest Reserve contributes 70% of the country’s hydropower through the Tana River (KFS, 2012). The Nyandarwa forest was first gazetted as a forest reserve under Legal Notice No.7 of 1943. A total of 76,700 hectares of the forest was de-gazetted (in 1950 and 1968) to create the Aberdare National Park (KFS, 2012). According to UNESCO (2014), rainfall distribution in this area is greatly influenced by the movement of inter-tropical convergence zones of air masses in the southern and northern hemispheres. The eastern Nyandarwa/windward side has an 8  equatorial type of climate, being wet and humid, with reliable rainfall of 1,400 - 2,200 mm and extended wet seasons. On the western/leeward side, rainfall reduces sharply from about 1,400 mm at the forest border to less than 700 mm in the valley of the Malewa River, only 50 km from the forest boundary (UNESCO, 2014).   Figure 1.1 Map of study area. Source: National Museums of Kenya (2016).                          This difference in climatic conditions determines land use activities and socio-economic conditions of communities living around the forest reserve. KFS (2012) highlights the spiritual and religious significance of the forest for local communities living 9  adjacent to the ecosystem; many tree species of the ecosystem including the Ficus sycomorus (Mũkũyũ3), Ficus thonningii (Mũgumo), Indogofera erecta (Muthaara), among others, are considered sacred and are used during the performance of traditional rituals and ceremonies (KFS, 2012). The forest is intimately linked to the struggle for independence in Kenya as it served as a hideout for Mau Mau guerilla freedom fighters, who waged the war for independence against British colonialism in the 1950s. To this end, the forest has a rich heritage that weaves into the tapestry of the making of Kenya as a nation. For example, the legendary leader of the Mau Mau, Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi, used a giant tree as a post office where the Mau Mau would leave messages for his attention (UNESCO, 2014). It also provided a camping site for the runaway Italian Prisoners of War (POW) during the Second World War (KFS, 2012).  The Aberdare Conservation Area has rich biological diversity, both in terms of plant and animal species, some of which are endemic to the area. According to KWS (2014), a total of 778 species, sub-species, and varieties of vascular plants belonging to 421 genera and 128 families have been recorded in this ecosystem. Communities currently living adjacent to the Nyandarwa Forest are mainly agriculturists who also rely heavily on the use of timber and non-timber forest products (NTFPs) from the forest reserve. The Agĩkũyũ community occupies the entire area around the forest. Other pastoralist communities frequent the area during extended dry spells (KFS, 2012). The Agĩkũyũ constitute the single largest ethnic group in Kenya (of the over 40 Kenyan communities/ethnic groups). According to KFS (2012), households’ reliance on the forest depends on the distance from the forest, socio-economic status, land size, and number of trees on their farms. Main forest uses include: firewood; building materials; grass harvesting for animal fodder; livestock grazing; beekeeping; and water collection for domestic purposes (KFS, 2012).  According to UNEP (2009), illegal cultivation of crops and settlements present a major threat to the integrity of the ecosystem, having already led to the destruction of well over 6,100 hectares. Other conservation challenges include: excisions (usually                                                  3 I choose to not italicize Gĩkũyũ or Swahili words in the text in order to disrupt English language hegemony.  10  highly political in nature); overgrazing; poaching of wildlife; illegal water abstraction and over abstraction; destruction of riparian areas; marijuana and tobacco cultivation; illegal charcoal production; wild fires; invasive plants; inadequate community support coupled with a lack of understanding of participatory forest management; and game damage to forest plantations (KFS, 2012). Human-wildlife conflict has long been intense around the borders of the National Park and the forest reserves. Marauding animals regularly damage crops, and occasionally kill or injure people (UNESCO, 2014). An electric fence was erected around the forest to reduce human-wildlife conflict and to prevent illegal exploitation of forest resources (UNEP, 2003). The various complexities of this forest landscape position it as a suitable and interesting case study for an investigation on the community dynamics of resource access within the framework of IKS.  1.3 The Agĩkũyũ people  The Anglicized name for the Agĩkũyũ is Kikuyu, which is the current name in use, but the elders I spoke to during the course of this project recommended that I use proper terminology. I will use the Agĩkũyũ (plural)/Mũgĩkũyũ (singular) or Gĩkũyũ (in reference to the land) as appropriate throughout the text. The term Kikuyu will only be retained when quoting from other sources. Agĩkũyũ ancestors are believed to have arrived in Kenya during the Bantu4 migrations of 1200 - 1600 AD. The formation of the Agĩkũyũ nation as we know it today was a result of complex migrations and remigration involving different groups of people. By 1800, however, the Agĩkũyũ people had coalesced into a distinct community (Muriuki, 1974). The original inhabitants of what is now known as Gĩkũyũ territory were Athi/Digiri hunter and gatherers. The Agĩkũyũ purchased land from, intermarried with, or assimilated the Athi/Digiri into their community (Kenyatta, 1965; Leakey, 1977). While Agĩkũyũ people are primarily agriculturalists, theirs is also a mixed economy that includes livestock-keeping. Goats, sheep, and cattle are important as they signified wealth and were used in many aspects of Agĩkũyũ life, such as ceremonies, sacrifices, and prayers. Gĩkũyũland is                                                  4 A cluster of African peoples that speak closely related languages. Bantu speaking people are found in Central Africa, the Great Lakes region, and Southern Africa.  11  characterised by ridges and valleys. This topography had a significant influence on original settlement, land acquisition, and the ensuing land tenure.  Claim to land was laid through either of two methods: first clearance of the virgin forest (kuuna kĩrĩti) or initial hunting rights (mĩgũda ya mĩtego) (Muriuki, 1974). Among the Agĩkũyũ, land is the most important factor in the social, political, religious and economic life (Kenyatta, 1965). Kenyatta (1965) further points out that land ownership amongst the Agĩkũyũ was not communal; while the whole community collectively defended their territory, “every inch of land had its owner” (Kenyatta, 1965, p. 27). Land was owned by individuals, families, or clans. However, this form of private ownership did not give the owner(s) exclusive rights. Land was shared with other members of the community in a system that was anchored in reciprocity and pursuit of collective good. Europeans mistook this collective usage as communal/tribal ownership of land (Kenyatta, 1965). Land was tied to rites of passage or transition from childhood to adulthood. A man without land was simply a boy. [It did not help that the British were referring to grown men, including those older than they, as “boy”]. A woman became a woman through cultivation of crops and providing for her family. Without this, she was a girl. In essence, a Mũgĩkũyũ could not become a Mũgĩkũyũ without land (Elkins, 2014).  Muriuki (1974, pp. 34-35) points out that:   Land was owned by the Mbarĩ, (a lineage or sub-clan depending on numbers, tracing its origin to a common male ancestor a number of generations back), and its administration was entrusted to a mũramati (guardian/custodian) who was the nominal head of the Mbarĩ. Mbarĩ ownership of land was further reinforced by the people’s religious beliefs, especially reverence for ancestors, which fostered a deep attachment to ancestral lands.  The religious beliefs that Muriuki (1974) refers to above included pouring of libations and propitiation of the ancestors to ensure the well-being of the family. The only areas that were communally owned were saltlicks (for animals), rights of way, and areas for the collection of firewood. Landlessness was curbed by a system of ahoi or tenant-at-will on those that had land. Tenants-at-will were individuals who would occupy land that was owned by wealthier members of the Agĩkũyũ community. They could cultivate, raise livestock, and live on the land but they understood that they did not own it. This system 12  of land use was tempered with the assurance that their tenancy was safe for as long as they operated within the limits of the law of the land (Kenyatta, 1965; Leakey, 1977). Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o5 (2010, p. 65) writes that Agĩkũyũ people believed that Ngai had blessed them with a land of abundance. This was incorporated into Gĩkũyũ teachings, and lyricized by the Agĩkũyũ as follows:  God has given the Agĩkũyũ a beautiful country Abundant with water, food and luscious bush The Agĩkũyũ should praise the Lord all the time For he has ever been generous to them!   Muriuki (1974) further explains that, besides adequate rainfall, Gĩkũyũ land is endowed with moderate temperatures and fertile soils. The productivity of the soil was derived from the volcanic tuffs, and was rich in humus from the cleared primeval forest. It was a perfect habitat for the Agĩkũyũ who:  For a long time made it the granary of their neighbours as well as for the European and Swahili caravans who passed by or through their country especially in the 19th century…they produced food in surplus in order to be able to trade with their neighbours. Trade was an important activity both internally and externally. (Muriuki, 1974, p. 33)   According to Leakey (1977, p. 55), in 1885 the explorer, Thompson, travelled in Gĩkũyũland and wrote the following:  Enormous quantities of sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, sugar cane, indian corn, millet etc, are raised and the supply seems to be quite inexhaustible. On my return journey, I found a caravan of over 1,500 men, staying at ngongo [ridge] who remained there a month, and carried away little short of three months’ provisions, yet it did not seem perceptibly to affect the supply or to raise the ridiculously low prices. Extremely fat sheep and goats abound while they (the Kikuyu) have also cattle in considerable numbers.                                                   5I will use the full names of Gĩkũyũ scholars who have chosen to be named the Gĩkũyũ way whenever I refer to their work(s) in the text. The use of just a surname is inappropriate for these individuals because there is no surname as such. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o means – Ngũgĩ, the son of Thiong’o. The two names are joined together and cannot be separated. If I use “wa Thiong’o” that would mean any of the other children of Thiong’o or, indeed, Thiong'o’s wife.  13  This was the land of plenty, abundant with all the good things. It is this goodness that drew non-Gĩkũyũ people to Agĩkũyũ territory. This is discussed in the following sub-section.   1.3.1 The coming of “outsiders”  It is trade that brought Agĩkũyũ people into contact with the first “outsiders”, the first of these being the Arabs/Swahili traders who travelled in caravans into the interior in search of ivory. The Agĩkũyũ had an immense respect for trade and were willing to supply the caravans with food. The Arabs and Swahili were later joined by European traders. While these relations started off as cordial and mutually beneficial, bad relations crept in when the “outsider” caravans started raiding the Agĩkũyũ. This opened up space for warfare between the two groups, especially after the establishment of Imperial British East African Company (IBEAC) in 1895. The IBEAC was established at the 1885 Berlin conference, during which European countries met to share what the Belgian King Leopold referred to as the “magnificent African cake” (Davidson, n.d.). The IBEAC was the precursor to the establishment of British Colonial rule in Kenya. It was this contact with the British that was to change the trajectory of the Agĩkũyũ people forever. Legend has it that Mũgo wa Kibiru and Cẽgẽ wa Kibiru (Gĩkũyũ seers) had warned the Agĩkũyũ people about the coming of people who looked like:  Small white frogs because of their oddly-coloured skins, their dress would resemble the wings of butterflies, they would carry sticks that spit fire, and they would also bring an iron snake which would belch out fire. (Muriuki, 1974, p. 137)  The IBEAC set up its first trading fort south of Gĩkũyũ land in 1895. This served as the base from which the British infiltrated in Gĩkũyũland inch by inch, and completely subdued a community, which up until then, had absolute authority over their lives. The Gĩkũyũ resisted British invasion for several years, but a combination of factors worked against them. The first of these was internal divisions and competition for power and wealth. As Elkins (2014, p. 14) reminds us:   14  The Kikuyu certainly did not live in a pre-colonial socialist utopia without class divisions. The competitive environment that spawned the chiefs was a direct result of the intense internal competition for resources and wealth that peaked at the time of colonization.   Tied to the above factor is a second factor, underlined by the fact that that the British misunderstood the Gĩkũyũ system of governance. The Agĩkũyũ did not have a centralised system of governance, rather there were athamaki/leaders in every ridge. People who were considerably wealthy (by way of holding large tracts of land), such as Waiyaki wa Hinga, were accorded a lot of respect by the Agĩkũyũ (Leakey, 1977). The British assumed that Waiyaki was the king/leader of the Agĩkũyũ people, but this led to disastrous consequences for Waiyaki and the community as a whole.  Waiyaki swore blood brotherhood with the empire builder, Captain Lugard, in 1890 to establish a trading post for the IBEAC on Gĩkũyũland. The agreement was based on the understanding of mutual respect especially that the IBEAC would not take away Gĩkũyũ land or property. According to Maathai (2007, p. 62), “this was quickly reneged by Lugard’s porters who were then raiding nearby settlements and raping women.” A series of battles were fought which culminated in the capture and eventual expulsion of Waiyaki wa Hinga. It is widely believed that he was buried alive – head first! Some Gĩkũyũ scholars (Muriuki, 1974) disagree and argue that Waiyaki simply died and was buried in Kibwezi on his way to exile and trial on the Kenyan coast, i.e., he was not buried alive. The pain and betrayal was and is still palpable among the Agĩkũyũ. As Maathai (2007, p .62) further explains:  The Kikuyu were stunned by Waiyaki’s humiliation and death. In Kikuyu culture, everybody had a right to shelter and space. People who had land were expected to share with people who did not. It was profoundly shocking that the British did not recognize the oath.  This event became entrenched in Agĩkũyũ people’s consciousness and Waiyaki was later transformed into a martyr for the nationalist cause. Emotive songs of protest featuring Waiyaki were composed during the Mau Mau period to memorialize his death and inspire the struggle against colonial rule.  15  The third factor is that Gĩkũyũ resistance was weakened by a series of natural disasters (locusts, drought, famine, and cattle plague) between 1894 and 1899, with a mortality rate estimated at between 50-95%. Those who survived moved further north. This combination of disasters account for the “empty land” which was alienated for European settlement in 1922/23 (Muriuki, 1974). This was probably the biggest setback to Gĩkũyũ resistance.  The fourth and last factor is that, at this point, Gĩkũyũ weaponry and bravery were no match for the “stick that spits fire”. Besides, as Elkins (2014, p. 4) succinctly puts it, “imperial warfare more resembled big game hunting than it did combat.” And, thus, began the enslavement of the Gĩkũyũ nation on their own land. Pax Britannica was now in full effect. The Union Jack fluttered in the air – a symbol of conquest, control, and oppression. For the Gĩkũyũ nation, the physical defeat was as devastating and as catastrophic as the psychological one. Loss of land was the chief lens through which the Agĩkũyũ viewed their now unfortunate state of affairs. Kenyatta (1965, p. 48) sums up the loss of Gĩkũyũland through this pithy anecdote:  Once upon a time an elephant made a friendship with a man. One day, a heavy thunderstorm broke out, the elephant went to his friend who had a little hut at the edge of the forest and said to him: “My dear good man, will you please let me put my trunk inside your hut to keep it out of the torrential rain?” The man seeing what situation his friend was in replied: “my dear good elephant, my hut is very small, but there is room for your trunk and myself. Please put your trunk in gently.” The elephant thanked his friend, saying: You have done me a good deed and one day I shall return your kindness.” But what followed? As soon as the elephant put his trunk inside the hut, slowly he pushed his head inside, and finally flung the man out in the rain, and then lay down comfortably inside his friend’s hut saying: “My dear good friend, your skin is harder than mine, and there is not enough room for both of us, you can afford to remain in the rain while I am protecting my delicate skin from the hailstorm.  Yes, the elephant was in the hut. The British were in Gĩkũyũland. And the Agĩkũyũ were out in the rain. In the following section, I discuss how the elephant made himself comfortable in the Gĩkũyũ hut.    16  1.3.2 British settlement on Gĩkũyũ territory   The white man cannot speak the language of the hills and knows not the ways of the land. (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 1965, p. 8)  By the 1920s, there was a steady inflow of settlers coming into Kenya in search of fortunes and prosperity. Substantial effort was directed towards encouraging settlers to migrate to the new colony. Adverts such as the following were disseminated widely:   Settle in Kenya, Britain’s youngest and most attractive colony. Low prices at present for fertile areas. No richer soil in the British Empire. Kenya colony makes a practical appeal to the intending settler with some capital. Its valuable crops give high yield, due to the high fertility of the soil, adequate rainfall and abundant sunshine. Secure the advantage of Native labour to supplement your own effort…Eventually, thousands of settlers responded to the call, migrating to Kenya in search of their fortunes. They came determined to forge “white man’s country.” (Koff and Howarth, 1979 as cited in Elkins, 2014, p. 3)  It is estimated that, by the time the settlers arrived, the central highlands were home to a million or more Agĩkũyũ people (Veit, 2011). Many of these were displaced to create land for British settlement. Veit (2011, p. 2) further states that:  The temperate fertile highlands – [later renamed] the ‘White Highlands’ – became the enclave of white immigrants (some Britons, but mainly white South Africans) engaged in large scale farming and dependent on African laborers who were mainly Kikuyu, but also Kalenjn, Luhya, Masaai, and Luo. Settlers with 1,000 British pounds in assets could receive 1,000 acres (4 km2) for free.   According to Maathai (2010), the settlers chose to settle in strategic locations near emerging town centres, in areas that had the potential for large-scale farming and livestock keeping. They were issued title deeds for their newly acquired land and those that were displaced were absorbed either into the settler farms as tenants-at-will or relocated to the Rift Valley as labourers on settler farms. This tenure system recognized private ownership of land through freehold title. While this was ideal in securing private land for settlers, it conflicted with the customary land tenure system that was already in place. Customary tenure was anchored on a complex system of nested and overlapping individual rights which was not compatible with individual ownership of land. As a result, most customary land was not registered and inevitably fell into the category of ‘empty 17  land’ (Veit, 2011). According to Maathai (2010), the settlers were attracted to the highlands because of the same reasons that the Agĩkũyũ were. The weather was perfect (not too hot or cold), the soils were fertile, and there was no malaria. As the colonial project progressed, the Gĩkũyũ people found themselves “hemmed in on all sides” (Elkins, 2014, p. 25). Prior to the colonial affront, people moved according to the prevailing conditions or needs. If there was too much pressure on land, for example, young men moved to other places and established homesteads. With the coming of the British, they found themselves locked in; “to the south, east and north were settler farms, to the west were government-controlled forests of the Aberdares [Nyandarwa] and to the south east was the expanding urban centre of Nairobi” (Elkins, 2014, p. 14). The British introduced a policy to settle Africans on ‘native reserves’ which were structured around ethnicity. The reserves resembled the homelands in South Africa or Native American reserves. Divide and rule was the cornerstone of the colonial administration. The Gĩkũyũ, consequently, lived in the Gĩkũyũ Reserve. Traditional farming practices, such as crop rotation and resting land/fallowing, were abandoned. These changes had a major impact on the people in myriad ways, including the overexploitation of the land base leading to severe soil erosion and food shortages. The former was to later become key focus of colonial conservation policies, such as terracing, which the Agĩkũyũ loathed and equated with oppression.  The conditions in the reserves, coupled with the colonial government’s introduction of taxes, created a monumental humanitarian crisis. For the first time, a people who were self-sufficient found themselves in conditions of extreme poverty. They were now locked into a monetary economy in a race to the bottom. Money could only be obtained by working for the Beberu6/colonizers in their settler farms in the ‘White                                                  6 There are various terms that Agikuyu people used to make reference to white settlers: Nyakeru; Athungu; Comba; and Beberu. While they all mean the same thing, i.e., white man or white people, the Swahili term ‘Beberu’ is a better metaphorical encapsulation of colonial oppression and domination. Male goats are also known as Beberu and are known for their legendary sexual greed. They are to be found mounting one female goat after the other or the same goat over and over again. They are dictatorial; they are uncompromising. The British Beberu could not have enough or looting, raping, murdering, torturing. They were the epitome of 18  Highlands’. As such, the colonial experiment was launched through a two-pronged approach: the colonization of land and of labour. This is further exemplified by Veit (2011, p. 5) who argues:  To protect their land, the settlers banned the growing of coffee by Africans, introduced a hut tax, and granted landless Africans less land in exchange for their labor. As the ability of Africans to provide a living from the land dwindled, there was a massive exodus to the cities. Beginning in the late 1930s, the government further intruded on ordinary Africans through marketing controls, stricter educational supervision, and additional land changes7.  As early as the 1920s, there was widespread dissatisfaction with the policies of the colonial government. Harry Thuku led the establishment of the Young Kikuyu Association, the very first protest movement in the colony. Their aim was to fight oppression and this was encapsulated around the recovery of Agĩkũyũ land (Veit, 2011). Harry Thuku was deported to Somalia, after which a massive protest broke out and several hundred people were killed. This was the second strike (in terms of the humiliation of Gĩkũyũ leaders) for the Agĩkũyũ in their already thoroughly embittered relationship with the colonial government. When World War I and World War II broke out, Africans were forcibly recruited into the ‘King African Rifles8’ to fight for the British. When both wars ended, the British soldiers were rewarded with huge tracts of land for their service to the crown. The African soldiers who had fought alongside the British soldiers in Burma, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and other locations in the British Empire got nothing, and to make matters worse, some of their land was given to their British counterparts. As Kariuki (1964, p. 27) states:                                                                                                                                                               gluttonousness. The term Beberu is also a more apt description of the true nature of colonialism – that colonialism was a ‘one armed bandit’ (Rodney, 1972) that extracted without ever giving anything back. Rodney (1972) came up with this expression to challenge the unfortunate and surprisingly still pervasive notion that Africans were better off during colonialism and that they benefited from colonialism. 7 Several strategies were instituted to sabotage African agriculture, including burning of crops to the ground to prevent Africans from competing with white settlers.  8 British colonial military comprising of native soldiers in East Africa.  19   The African soldiers were rewarded with the colourbar, unemployment and the kipande. [Yet] there had been no colour bar to prevent us from dying for Britain in the war. Those who had been stagnant in their misery now began to look for happiness.  The kipande (Figure 1.2) was a form of identification enclosed in a metal container that had to be worn around the neck by those who worked on Beberu farms. According to Edgerton (1989, p.15), the kipande had to bear the names and fingerprints of the wearer, the past employer’s recommendation and the present employer’s signature; “It jingled like a bell as a person walked. The Kikuyu called it Mbugi (goat’s bell), and detested it as a mark of their servility.”               Figure 1.2 Kipande. Apart from the obvious livelihood consequences, there was a bundle of other social and psychological consequences of what Elkins (2014, p. 14) aptly describes as the “British land grab.” All of these events and issues, starting with the death of Waiyaki, land dispossession, racial discrimination, infantilization of the African, innumerable humiliations, pauperization of the Agĩkũyũ people, and more, coalesced and birthed the 20  Mau Mau9 revolt, described by Elkins (2014, p. 28) as “one of the bloodiest and most protracted wars of decolonization fought in Britain’s 20th century empire”. The central tenets of the revolt were Ithaka na Wĩyathĩ, or land and self-rule. I now turn to a discussion of the evolution of land tenure in the Kenyan context.   1.4 Land tenure: A national perspective   Land is a highly complex and emotive issue in Kenya. Beyond serving as a means of production or supporting community livelihoods, it embodies the social, cultural, and spiritual aspects of the over 40 communities that call Kenya home. Land tenure in pre-colonial times was governed through the application of customary laws that varied among the different ethnic groups. Odera (2004) argues that supreme power in overseeing land related issues, such as regulating use and excluding and negotiating rights with outsiders, was vested in the council of elders or equivalent leadership structures of the respective communities. Kenya was declared a British protectorate in 1895. To pave the way for the alienation of land for British settlers, the Crown Lands Ordinance was crafted. This piece of legislation declared “all waste and unoccupied land” as “Crown Land” (Aggarwal & Thouless, 2009, p. 3). The terra nullius concept was at play in Kenya as in other colonized parts of the world. According to Kenyatta (1965, p. 37):   In actual sense these empty tracts of land were pasture lands, salt licks, public meeting and dance places, the woodlands including big forests along the frontier of the Agĩkũyũ and the neighbouring tribes…big tracts of land were used for purposes other than cultivation and were equally important to the community.  An amendment of the Crown Lands Ordinance in 1939 created native reserves (also known as trust lands) which were overseen by the Native Land Trust Boards. In 1959, alienation of land to individual community members in native reserves was instituted, setting in motion private ownership of land through title deeds. This created a                                                  9 The actual name of this movement was ‘Kenya Land Freedom Army.’ There are several explanations regarding the origin of the Mau Mau. According to the Mau Mau themselves, there was no such thing as Mau Mau. But the name has attained discursive currency and will be used throughout the text.   21  situation where heads of households (mainly male) became the sole owners of the land, often at the expense of spouses, female relatives, or those with customary rights of use (Wakhungu, Huggins & Nyukuri, 2008). According to Wakhungu et al., (2008, p. 1), “by 1934, European settlers, who represented less than a quarter of one percent of the population at that time, controlled about a third of the arable land in the country.” The colonial period marked the beginning of systematic dispossession, disenfranchisement, and land-related conflicts which continue to plague the country to this day. After independence, the un-adjudicated trust lands were managed by the county councils/local governments and the Crown Land became government land (it should be noted that the majority of forests fall into this category). The fundamentals of the colonial land tenure system described above, especially state control over land and the undermining of customary tenure, continued after independence. Land became intrinsically tied with politics, ethnicity, and massive corruption exemplified by extensive land grabbing of forestlands in the 1990s.  As a result, Kenyans have been pushing for reform in land governance and the 2010 constitution is seen as a critical step forward in setting in place significant reforms on land governance, land use, and land ownership (Wily, 2010). Of note is the recognition of customary land tenure. The constitution states that “all land in Kenya belongs to the people of Kenya collectively as a nation, as communities, and as individuals’’ and that ‘‘community land’’, which includes ancestral lands, ‘‘shall vest in and be held by communities’’ (Government of Kenya, 2010, p. 42, 45). All other land is either government land or private land, which can be held under freehold or leasehold tenure.  1.5 Justification for the study  In the following section, I will make a case for the need to apply indigenous knowledge in conservation. I will illustrate the deficiencies of the dominant western conservation mode and highlight the need for engaging with Afrocentric knowledge systems in understanding people-forest relationships, and general ecosystem health.   22  1.5.1 Indigenous knowledge in conservation   The creation of protected and conservation areas the world over followed the Yellowstone model, which is based on the belief that nature and non-human animals must be protected from human interference and that true conservation entails setting aside tracts of land from which human settlements or even humans themselves may be excluded (IUCN, 2010). This kind of approach is consistent with western thought and attitudes towards nature. Pierotti and Wildcat (2000) argue that western attitudes towards nature have their foundation in European philosophical roots that advance the narrative that humans are autonomous from and in control of the natural world. Other ways of knowing embedded in Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) (Emery, 1997) or Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS10) (Nakashima, Prott & Bridgewater, 2000) of non-western societies view humans as an integral component of the natural world. Indeed, one of the defining elements underpinning the construction of TEK/IKS is that all things (living and non-living) are interconnected through a complex web of life. Pierotti and Wildcat (2000, p. 1336) remark that this interconnectivity is “not simply a homily or romanticized cliché but instead a realization that no single organism can exist without the web of other forms of life that surround it and makes its existence possible.”  One of the critiques often directed towards these knowledge systems is that they would not take hold in the current large populations; that they only worked in the past when populations were sparser. Anderson (1996) argues that the origins of TEK are based in the knowledge that native societies existed under conditions of constant pressure on the resources upon which they wholly depended. Therefore, he argues, a means had to be found to convince communities and families to economize with respect to their use of natural resources. Hence, the argument about IKS/TEK being untenable because of high population growth falls away. We have no evidence to suggest that communities would not have adjusted to increasing populations with more innovative practices regarding resource use.                                                   10 IKS will be used throughout this document, but TEK may be referred to as appropriate when reference to other works is made. Both terminologies represent the same thing.  23  According to Cajete (2000), IKS encompass both science and spirituality in the sense that the latter is the ritual representation of the community and a device for sanctioning moral and ethical codes. Lertzman (2010, p. 120) argues that the spiritual philosophy and cultural teachings of TEK are its foundation and cannot be divorced from its application. Such wisdom is critical in providing a broader philosophical and spiritual context in the terrain of ecosystem management by “inspiring an ecological sense of identity and behaviour.” In the same vein, Dietz, Ostrom and Stern (2008) note that global and national environmental policy frequently overlooks community-based governance and traditional tools, such as informal communications and sanctioning, yet these tools can have a significant impact in relation to governance of common pool resources, such as forests. Pierotti and Wildcat (2000, p. 1335) emphasize that TEK is very different than the comfortable and romantic image of the Rousseauian “noble savage”, or the concepts of ‘‘love of nature,’’ ‘‘closeness to nature,’’ ‘‘communing with nature,’’ or ‘‘conservation of nature,” all of which are commonly used to refer to indigenous communities.  One of the challenges in the application of TEK in research is the belief that TEK does not qualify as “science”, and hence is not objective, culturally neutral, and does not somehow exist outside of culture/is not affected by culture. Cajete (2000) writes that the counterargument to this notion is that social scientists, in particular, must agree that nothing people do is divorced from culture, including systems of knowledge, technology, and education. Everything is contextualized in culture. TEK is a constantly evolving way of thinking about the world. Anderson (1996) explains that, although views covered by TEK are described as “traditional”, this should not be taken to mean that they cannot or do not change. The essence of traditional beliefs is that they have existed long enough for long range consequences to affect them. Nothing is static about TEK. Each generation makes observations, compares their experiences with what they have been taught, and conducts experiments to test the reliability of their knowledge (Anderson, 1996). I believe that the exclusion of TEK from management of resources is a loss for humanity because it locks a majority of the world’s population out of contributing to knowledge production and from crafting context-dependent resource management 24  interventions. With regards to research, this presents a big gap in knowledge and opportunities for exploration of other ways of knowing and understanding resource use, especially in the face of escalating global environmental challenges, such as climate change.   In the same vein, Rist, Shaanker, Gulland and Ghazoul (2010, para. 2) argue that TEK can “not only add to an existing body of scientific knowledge but can present a completely different picture of reality, especially when held within a different cosmological and ethical framework.” In addition, Dei (2002, p. 8) points out that the use and revitalization of IKS offers a critique of the wholesale degradation, disparagement, and discard with ‘tradition’ and ‘culture’ in the interest of ‘modernity’ and the ‘global space.’ The dominant discourse regarding culture in Africa is that it holds back progress or development; that, the way to embrace globalization, modernity, and development is to strip yourself of all aspects of African culture and learn from the ‘developed world.’  Indeed, as Emeagwali (2014, p. 2) argues, modernity is perceived as a situation where progress “is conceived as a unidirectional movement toward a fixed and abstract goal called ‘modernity’ a haven where, supposedly, all cultural and religious sensibilities are either numbed, or totally eradicated, and, where Eurocentric values and norms reign supreme.” Several authors have argued that using IKS in development enterprises enables indigenous peoples and local communities to actively participate in the decision-making process (Arora, 2006; Elías, 2012; Kothari, Camill & Brown., 2013; Maathai, 2010; Ongugo, 2007; Pretty et al., 2009; Skutnabb-Kangas, Maffi & Harmon., 2003). IKS is a powerful resource of rural peoples and, therefore, a key element in the fight against poverty and social exclusion for many rural communities worldwide. “Reliance on local knowledge and links with local cultures can make decentralized systems”, such as those initiated under the new forest policy in Kenya, “more resilient in the face of changing external conditions” (Kuchli, n.d., p. 21).  At the same time, UNSESCO and Nuffic (2002) recognize the fact that culture is not static. Therefore, the incorporation of IKS into policies and programmes should not be constructed merely as a process of ‘transmission’, but rather as a ‘generation of indigenous knowledge’ or the ‘social reconstruction of indigenous knowledge.’ 25  According to the World Bank (1998, p. iii), “knowledge as an instrument of development has not received the needed attention in developing countries in general, and Africa in particular.” The need to investigate and apply this knowledge is vital. For as Lertzman (1999) argues, if the transition to ecological sustainability requires a decrease in our demand on natural capital, perhaps this can be offset with a greater supply of social and cultural capital. This social and cultural capital is embedded in IKS. As several authors (Ongugo, 2007; Adam, 2012; KFS, 2012) have noted, there is a vast body of knowledge that lies within communities and it is worthwhile to explore how this resource can contribute to resolving forest management challenges in the Kenyan context.  Agrawal (1995) argues that, if we wish to save IKS, there is need to move beyond the dichotomy of ‘indigenous’ vs. ‘western’ and seek to advocate for methods of conservation that engage with politics to bring issues of power and modification of political relationships to the core of these interventions. Preservation of the diversity of different knowledges might lie in attempting to re-orient and reverse state policies and market forces to permit members of threatened populations to determine their own futures. In rapidly changing times, traditional knowledge systems must be both consolidated and extended by modern policy tools (Elías, 2012). The IKS that I will be engaging with in this thesis are grounded in African ways of knowing. I now turn to a discussion on the need for this epistemology.   1.5.2 An examination of African epistemology  The river is flooded by tributaries. – Shona of Zimbabwe proverb  African epistemology is experiential knowledge based on a worldview and culture that is relational (Chilisa, 2012; Maathai, 2010; Owusu-Ansah & Mji, 2013). Sarpong (2002) argues that at the heart of this worldview are the values of wholeness, community, and harmony, which are deeply embedded in diverse cultural heritages. Sarpong further posits that a person becomes human in the midst of others and seeks both individual and collective harmony as the primary task in the process of becoming a “true person” (Sarpong, 2002, p. 40). Acquisition of knowledge in African societies is a collective and community-oriented endeavour. Central to African worldviews is a strong 26  emphasis on a collective ethic anchored in communal values which acknowledge that the survival of a group of people must be supported by the spirit of interdependence and interconnectedness (Achebe, 1958; Mkabela, 2005). As Owusu-Ansah and Mji (2013, p. 2) point out, “African knowledge, and its method of acquisition, has a practical, collective, and social or interpersonal slant.”  While ancient writing traditions do exist on the African continent, African epistemology is predominantly oral in nature and is transmitted from generation to generation. Forms of writing can be seen in the Ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Ethiopian Ge’ez scripts. According to Maathai (2007), the Agĩkũyũ had a form of writing transmitted through the gĩchandi made from a gourd which was filled with stones and seeds, to make music when shaken. This music relayed teachings through riddles, proverbs, and wisdom. Further, its outer surface was inscribed with writings that conveyed information. Some of these artifacts were destroyed by missionaries, while others were taken to Museums in Europe and America, where they are held currently. Emagalit (2003) notes that oral knowledge has been looked down upon in part, for its oratory formulation, as well as the fact that not all of it is measurable. It has, thus, been sidelined from systematic scientific investigation because it is perceived as simplistic. Ngara (2007), however, argues that this kind of knowledge is, indeed, highly complex and vast repositories of this knowledge is stored in communities’ ceremonies, rituals, story-telling, folktale recitations, demonstrations, sports, epics, poetry, riddles, tongue-twisters, dances, music, artefacts, and other cultural objects or representations.   The invocation of African epistemologies in research is supported by the philosophy of Afrocentricity outlined by African-American scholar Molefi Kete Asante in his works, The Afrocentric Idea (1987), Afrocentricity (1988) and Kemet, Afrocentricity and Knowledge (1990). Asante (2009, para. 3) writes:  The Afrocentric paradigm is a revolutionary shift in thinking proposed as a constructural adjustment to black disorientation, decenteredness, and lack of agency. The Afrocentrist asks: what natural responses would occur in the relationships, attitudes toward the environment, kinship patterns, preferences for colors, type of religion, and historical referent points for African people if there had not been any intervention of colonialism or enslavement? Afrocentricity answers this question by asserting the central role of the African subject within the context 27  of African history, thereby removing Europe from the center of the African reality. In this way, Afrocentricity becomes a revolutionary idea because it studies ideas, concepts, events, personalities, and political and economic processes from a standpoint of black people as subjects and not as objects, basing all knowledge on the authentic interrogation of location.   With respect to research, Mkabela (2005) writes that Afrocentricity is the examination of the African reality from the perspective of the African; one that places the African experience at the core, recognizes the African voice, and reaffirms the centrality of cultural experience (emphasis added) as the place to begin to create a dynamic multicultural approach to research. At the core of Afrocentricity is a call for respect to other ways of knowing irrespective of skin colour or geographical positioning.   Owusu-Ansah and Mji (2013) contend that the creation of a level playing field enhances the mutual exchange and synthesis of information at all levels. Further, Afrocentricity encourages cultural and social immersion as opposed to scientific distance in research, as well as the use of tools and methods indigenous to the people being studied (Owusu-Ansah & Mji, 2013). According to Mudimbe (1988), as cited in Archie (n.d.), when examining African issues, it is important to ask a fundamental question: what is the basis for discussions about Africa and from where and whom did it come? Mudimbe (1988) argues that western anthropologists and missionaries have, throughout history, introduced dichotomies not only for outsiders, but also for Africans trying to understand themselves (Archie, n.d.). Mudimbe, therefore, calls for an understanding of the construction of Africa through an examination of three general areas of exploitation: physical land and space; the domination of the mind and body; and the infusion of western ideas into already established civilizations (Mudimbe, 1988, as cited in Archie, n.d.).  Eyong, Mufuaya and Foy (2004, p. 2) contend that “what we know about Africa today stems from the ideologically coloured glasses of ‘prejudiced’ colonial anthropologists who documented African cultures as raw, uncooked, primitive and uncivilised in a bid to justify the high-handed colonisation scramble.” Colonialism largely repressed the development of indigenous technology in Africa and destabilized some of the existing processes of technical growth and that indigenous manufacturing capability 28  was deliberately undermined to facilitate European exports (Eyong, 2007). Engaging in research guided by African ways of knowing is one of the ways in which one can contribute towards a greater understanding of the African continent. Afrocentricity links with the African Renaissance philosophy11, which is anchored in the belief that African people and nations can, should, and shall overcome the current challenges confronting the continent and achieve cultural, scientific, and economic renewal. At the heart of the African Renaissance is the appreciation, revival, use, and promotion of IKS. Linked to this is the drive to enhance indigenous capacity so that “the grains of the liberation culture of the continent and the restoration of African confidence as a people can be consolidated” (Kalawole, 2012, para. 4). Indeed, as Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo wrote, dreamed, and hoped, “the day will come when history will speak. Africa will write its own history…it will be a history of glory and dignity” (Lumumba, 1961, n.p.).   It is worthwhile noting that African epistemologies are very similar to those of indigenous peoples around the world. Gregory Cajete, a Tewa Indian from the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico, for example, discusses the epistemologies of Native Americans in his books Native Science (2000) and I Look to the Mountain (1994). In reading Cajete’s work in Native science, I substitute the word Native American with African and I find myself making sense of the text. According to Cajete (2000, p. 4):    In the past 500 years of contact with western culture native [African] traditions have been viewed and expressed largely through the lens of western thought, language, and perception. The western lens reflects all other cultural traditions through filters of the modern view of the world. In order to understand native [African] cultures one must be able to see through their lenses and hear their stories in their voice and through their experience…for native [African] people, seeking life was the all-encompassing task. While there were tribal specialists with particular knowledge of technologies and ritual, each member of the tribe in his or her own capacity was a scientist, an artist, a story teller, and a participant in the great web of life.                                                  11 This philosophy was first articulated by Senegalese anthropologist Cheikh Anta Diop, in a series of essays beginning in 1946, which are collected in his book, Towards the African Renaissance: Essays in Culture and Development, 1946-1960 (African Union (AU), 2013). This concept was further popularized by former South Africa President, Thabo Mbeki, and is one of the underlying principles of the African Union. 29   Given the historically oppressive processes, African knowledge and methods of knowing have yielded results and contributions that have been discounted and undermined by multiple forms of oppression. Ngara (2007) argues that contributions made by Africa and her people to history and civilizations are conspicuously missing from scholarship and research. Yet, as Owusu-Ansah and Mji (2013, p. 1) note, “Africa has historically made a host of contributions to world civilisation which remain unknown and subliminally perpetuate the myth that African and or traditional African societies are incapable of rigorous scientific inquiry.” Back to the river proverb outlined at the beginning of this section, it is worthwhile exploring the tributaries that have been sealed off. We need more water in the river. Since a river is flooded by its tributaries and the world needs and deserves a full and functional river, it is time to work towards the uplifting of subjugated African (and other) knowledge systems. The river is flooded by its tributaries!  1.6 My positionality   In framing a study to investigate the research questions in this study, I am guided by Mathaai’s (2010, p. 288) call below:  I call for Africans to discover and embrace their linguistic, cultural and ethnic diversity not only so their nation-states can move forward politically and economically but so that they may heal a psyche wound by denial of who they are…It is they who must begin a revolution in ethics that puts community before individualism, public good before private greed and commitment to service before cynicism and despair.   This call is further reinforced by my eight years of engagement with diverse communities’ heritages and its value as discussed in the paragraphs that follow, articulate my interest and biases towards this topic. I am inspired by the works of several scholars (Brown, 2009; Cajete, 2000; Chilisa, 2013; Freire, 2012; Kovach, 2009; Owusu-Ansah & Mji, 2013; Wilson, 2008), who argue that reflexivity and starting from one’s own experience in education and research is methodologically sound. As Chilisa (2012, p. 3) writes, I, too, feel uncomfortable with research practices that “disconnect 30  me from multiple relations that I have with the community, living and non-living things and my life experiences”. I, therefore, wish to state my positionality and explain how my life experiences have shaped my thinking, as well as interest in this type of research.  Prior to enrolling in my Ph.D. programme, I worked with and learned from diverse communities on the use, valorization, conservation, and promotion of natural and cultural heritage in East and Southern Africa. During this time, I was immersed in projects that wove together spirituality, local history, an intricate fusion of cultural and natural heritage in dynamic cultural landscapes. Through this work, I had the opportunity and privilege of interacting closely with the Abasuba people of Lake Victoria’s Mfangano Island, the Iteso of western Kenya, the Abagusii of western Kenya, the Turkana of northern Kenya, the Iteso of eastern Uganda, the Warangi of Central Tanzania, and the Chewa of Malawi. My dialogues with communities interwove issues around masterpieces of art immortalized on stone, ritual, spirituality, nature, community ecological governance, livelihoods, health, peace, rites of passage, and many more aspects. I was able to glimpse into their collective memories as expressed in stories, songs, dance, folklore, proverbs, myths, cultural values, beliefs, rituals, cultural community laws, local languages, artefacts, forms of communication, and organization, experiencing a range of histories as impressive as that found anywhere else in the world.  It dawned on me that all of these communities held vast reservoirs of knowledge that they themselves did not see as important, in some cases, because it is not ‘modern’ or informed by formal education. I started developing an interest in an appreciation of indigenous worldviews, how they structure the ways of life for communities, and how they link to resource use and livelihoods. Basil Davidson, in his documentary series ‘Africa’ which highlights the continent’s history, says “…unwritten rules were respected because they determine community survival…civilization is not a matter of technological advancement but of social responsibility.” Similar views are shared by Kenyan scholar and writer, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (1993), who writes that what prevented our cultures from being completely annihilated was that the rural masses continued to breathe life into them by refusing and resisting complete surrender in the political and economic 31  spheres. Davidson (n.d., n.p.) further acknowledges that, “miraculously these cultures have survived the onslaught of missionaries, colonizers and conquerors.” This is what I witnessed in my various engagements with communities and travels around the continent. My experiences sparked my interest in concepts, such as Afrocentricity and the African Renaissance discussed earlier. The ideals of these concepts shine through the work of Davidson (n.d., n.p.) who says that:   Through their long history, Africans display their creative energy and power. The energy and power of the past can be renewed. Africa is going to overcome its crises in the measure that it develops from its own roots and draws strength from its own history and skill and enterprise and independent civilizations. And as this new development begins to flower in Africa now, will the future begin to reflect once more the manifold achievements of the past.   Echoing the same beliefs, Mbeki (1996, n.p.) writes:  I am born of a people who are heroes and heroines…Patient because history is on their side, these masses do not despair because today the weather is bad. Nor do they turn triumphalist when, tomorrow, the sun shines...whatever the circumstances they have lived through and because of that experience, they are determined to define for themselves who they are and who they should be.   This is a belief that I embrace. It is clear that many communities have not forgotten their history and that their cultural traditions are still important to them. In as much as these traditions have been subjugated, underdeveloped, exploited, or undergone mutations, they still retain the potential for human and social development as they continue to echo through the ages. In 2012, I got the chance to interact and work with Aboriginal communities in Australia’s northern territory. Here, I marveled at the application of IKS in the management of Kakadu National Park and other surrounding cultural landscapes. This experience strengthened my resolve to explore the potential and creativity that lies within communities through utilizing the wisdom of our coherent indigenous knowledge systems to achieve sustainable resource use and relevant development interventions.  I say ‘our’ to situate myself as an African, Kenyan, Mumeru woman who shares specific and collective heritages with the continent as a whole and my own community specifically. I am driven by the conviction that what will consolidate our strength is our intuition and creativity as a people in all spheres of engagement. My life experiences 32  working on the African continent and my desire to contribute to resolving the challenges facing Africa drives me to conduct research that honours indigenous ways of knowing and ways of life of communities, while showing respect to community values systems and imperatives. Indeed, as Achebe (1972) writes, “I believe it is impossible to write anything in Africa without some kind of commitment, some kind of message, some kind of protest…my role as an African … is to help my society regain belief in itself and put away the complexes of the years of denigration and self-abasement” (Achebe, 1972, as cited in Turkington, 1977, pp. 7-8). In essence, I perceive my research journey as an intellectual voyage of discovering who I am as an African and a commitment to use my work to contribute towards the African Renaissance.  The other reason that drives me to explore this form of scholarship is a deeply personal one. I was born and raised near a natural, indigenous protected forest in Meru County. It was only because of the waters flowing from this forest that I did not have to walk for long distances to fetch water, a task expected of girls in my community. Water is a game-changer for any woman in Africa. If you spend several hours in a day looking for water, there will be no time left to dedicate to anything else, much less education. Luckily for me we obtained access to piped water drawn from this forest just as I was about to turn five or six years old. I had just got a taste of what fetching water meant on one occasion and I clearly remember resigning myself to my fate. There was no point of having any dreams or hopes. But the water came and that changed everything! The most important factor is that this forest and its critical watersheds are protected through application of IKS. There are designated regions in this forest in which elders perform sacrifices to appease Murungu/God. This is one of those practices that has miraculously survived the missionary and colonial assault. Coincidentally, these regions are set around springs and are absolutely out of bounds to all except the designated elders. This system, therefore, protects critical watersheds, hence providing water for the community. I am a beneficiary of this forest. I am a beneficiary of this traditional custodianship system. I am a beneficiary of IKS. Were it not for this forest and this knowledge system, I would probably not be here. I owe it to elders and this knowledge system to do something about the devaluation of 33  IKS. I opened this section with the words of Wangari Maathai. I chose to end the way I started, with the words of this iconic daughter of Africa, because her poignant words are as pivotal today and for the future as they were during her initial efforts in sustainable forest management:   Those of us who have witnessed the degraded state of the environment and the suffering that comes with it cannot afford to be complacent. We continue to be restless; if we really carry the burden, we are driven to action. We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk. (Maathai, 2007, p. 295)  This call to action – to rise up and walk – is a theme and thread that is going to feature throughout this dissertation. Forests remain a resource that is under siege globally. They also remain a key to unlocking some of the most protracted environmental challenges of our time. This chapter has sought to position the research topic and questions in the greater global, national, and local contexts. It has centred communities and land as the stepping stone towards understanding people-forest relationships. In the next chapter, I present a review of literature and theoretical formulations that guided the study.    34  Chapter 2: Literature review and theoretical framework 2.1 Introduction  The underlying theme in this literature review on people-forest relationships and the articulation of a theoretical framework that guided my framing and analysis of the study is captured in Simpson’s (2011, p.104) narrative:  If we do not live our stories and our teachings, the echoes become fainter and will eventually disappear. When the land is not being used in a respectful and honourable way, the power of her teachings are lost. Healers know that plants will disappear if one takes too much, and also if one does not use them at all. The more we tell stories, the more stories there are to tell, the more echoes that come up to the present.   The central goal of this thesis is to understand people-forest relationships through the lens of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS). Imbued in this is the attempt to explore actual living practices relating to forest use and conservation among the Agĩkũyũ people of central Kenya. Further, I seek to ground this study within a revitalization perspective which aims to contribute to the reinforcement of the validity and legitimacy of Africa’s IKS. To this end, in this chapter, I present and examine the historical development of conservation discourses in Africa and how this has changed over time. Further, I highlight global conservation thought in relation to IKS. I also highlight the theoretical and philosophical frameworks including Dei’s (2000) “anti-colonial discursive framework”, Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o’s (2009) “dismemberment and remembering” theory as well as the anti-colonial, and the environmental thinking of Amilcar Cabral (1970) and Thomas Isidore Sankara (1988, 1989). Further, the study is enriched by African orature and ethnophilosophy as manifested through stories and proverbs employed in framing the study and interpreting its findings.   2.2 Global conservation discourse and IKS  Proponents of IKS (Cajete, 2000; Hoppers, 2002; Kovach, 2010; Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2006; Smith, 1999) have promoted its integration into the management of 35  natural resources over the last two decades, both at the local and international scales, and especially in the face of escalating environmental crises. This integration, further, features in current global conservation discourse and agreements. The 1987 Brundtland Commission12 report, for example, recognized the interdependence of ecological and political-economic systems, within which humans are key to addressing the planet’s environmental problems and achieving sustainable development. The Commission asserted that:   Tribal and indigenous peoples’ lifestyles can offer modern societies many lessons in the management of resources in complex forest, mountain and dry-land ecosystems. These communities are the repositories of vast accumulations of traditional knowledge, and experience that link humanity with its ancient origins. Their disappearance is a loss for the larger society, which could learn a great deal from their traditional skills in sustainably managing very complex ecological systems. (United Nations 1987, p. 19 & p .98)   The 1992 ‘Earth Summit13’ in Rio de Janeiro resulted in several international agreements outlining a global policy context for sustainable development. The role of Indigenous peoples and their communities in sustainable development is explicitly recognized in these agreements, including the guiding principles on forests, the Convention of Biological Diversity, and Agenda 21 (Olusanya, 2012). Other international conventions, such as the 2008 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and the 2003 UNESCO Convention of Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage, as well as the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression (of which Kenya is a signatory), have been ratified; these relate to the protection of Indigenous peoples’ intellectual and cultural property, and strengthening their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditional territories (Borona, 2014). These kinds of community-friendly policies bring back to centre stage knowledge, practices, and skills of these communities and, hence, create possibilities and avenues for meaningful partnerships with governments and other stakeholders.                                                   12 Our Common Future: The World Commission on Environment and Development.  13 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. 36  The Rio+2014 conference stressed the importance of the participation of indigenous peoples in the achievement of sustainable development and recognized the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the context of global, regional, national, and subnational implementation of sustainable development strategies (United Nations, 2012). The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recognized Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) in 2003. This kind of recognition is a significant step forward in acknowledging that these community-managed areas are some of the oldest conservation spaces on earth. IUCN recently (2016) argued for stronger measures to protect sacred sites by ensuring that they are off-limits to extractive industries (Gaia Foundation, 2016).  In the same vein, the United Nations has recognized earth jurisprudence, which the Gaia Foundation (2016, para. 7) describes as “a practical philosophy for earth-centred living and governance that, like indigenous traditions, recognizes earth as our primary source of law.” Despite all of these efforts, IKS has not received the recognition that it deserves in the management of forest and other natural resources. While several examples illustrate the effectiveness of applying IKS in resource management contexts, wider applications of IKS-derived information remain elusive and inadequate. In part, this is due to continued inertia in favour of established western scientific practices and the need to describe IKS in western scientific terms (Huntington, 2000).  2.3 Historical perspectives of conservation  The conservation movement can be traced back to “ethical and aesthetic pre-occupations” that were far removed from communities and the ecosystems on which they depended (Kothari et al., 2013, para. 15). It is only relatively recently that conservationists have begun to acknowledge, appreciate, and engage with the numerous value systems and practices which communities apply in conservation (Kothari et al., 2013). Marginalization of IKS stems from the colonial encounter, imperialism, neo-colonial envelopment, and development doctrines (Hoppers, 2002; Maathai, 2010; Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2010; Nyamnjoh, 2012; Okot p’Bitek, 1966). Murphy                                                  14 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development: Rio+20. 37  (2009, p. 4) makes a case for examining imperialism (in the past and present) based on the following intersecting reasons:    (i) a more accurate account of the origins of environmentalism which emerged in the colonies and not in the imperial centre; (ii) understanding the legacies of colonialism and how these continue to shape contemporary environmental challenges; (iii) insights into generic processes of imperialism which might be operating through the environment today; (iv) a deeper understanding of the contemporary environmental crisis and how it might be overcome.  Murphy (2009) traces the linkages of environmental colonialism to the dispossession of land, livelihoods, and the destruction of the culture of Gaelic Scotland and Ireland by the Anglo-Normans in the 11th and 12th centuries. This dispossession prompted Aogán Ó Rathaill, an Irish Gaelic Poet to write “Our land, our shelter, our woods and our level ways are pawned for a penny by a crew from the land of Dover” (Murphy, 2009, p. 7). Irish people were cast as “wild and barbarous” and “beyond the pale”, which has echoes of Africa as “the dark continent” and the “wild west” in the United States of America (Murphy, 2009). The colonization of the Irish is central to understanding the colonial experiment and its impact on “language, culture and social memory” because as the first colony of England, Ireland “became a prototype for all other English colonies in Asia, Africa, and America” (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2009, p. x-xi). As Murphy (2009, p. 8) points out:   The scale of colonialism was staggering. At its height in 1922, the British Empire included around 458 million people, one-quarter of the world’s population at the time, and covered more than 33,670,000 km², approximately a quarter of the planet’s land area   Colonialism had a direct impact on the environment because it was fueled by agricultural production to feed the needs, not of the colonized, but of empire. Sugar, tobacco, tea, wool, coffee, furs, feathers, gold, diamonds, groundnuts, rubber, pyrethrum – a variety of crops and other things that are not essential for human survival – were the cornerstone of colonial agriculture all over the world (Beinart & Hughes, 2007; Maathai, 2010; Murphy, 2009; Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2010). Land became a 38  commodity for empire. As Murphy (2009) argues, this interlinkage between the land, environment, business, and colonialism resulted in the ‘commodification of nature’, a foreign concept to many of the colonized peoples. This commodification of nature was tied to extreme brutality as manifested by the chopping off of hands of colonial subjects who could not harvest the expected rubber amounts in King Leopold’s Congo, floggings, starvation, and other forms of torture (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2009). The Agĩkũyũ people, under discussion in this thesis, had to, for instance, produce food to support the war economy in World War II. They were encouraged to continue producing on already depleted soils, which inevitably led to an ecological catastrophe for which they were blamed and forced to resolve through punitive soil restoration programs (Elkins, 2014). In the African context, the practice of separating communities from their environments dates to the colonial period. One of the key defining elements of the colonial regime in Africa, and indeed elsewhere, was the promotion of conservation policies that were unsympathetic to the needs of local people (Makombe, 1993). According to IIED (1994), communities’ access to land-based livelihoods was criminalized. People were excluded from areas that they and their ancestors had previously inhabited, and fencing was sometimes erected to keep them away. Nelson (2003, p.65) coins the phrase “saving Africa from Africans” to interrogate contemporary conservation practices on the continent. This salvation conservation is characterized by the creation of pristine wildernesses which Nelson refers to as “gardens of Eden”, “cathedrals,” and “paradises” for the enjoyment of westerners. What is the place of Africans within these spaces? They are auxiliary staff: tour guides; waiters; porters; and entertainers. These are not positions of power. As Nelson (2003, p. 65) further points out, the results of contemporary environmentalism:   Have not been as devastating as the experience of slavery, yet they have often served Western interests and goals much more than the interests of ordinary Africans. In some cases, local populations have been displaced and impoverished in order to create national parks and to serve other conservation objectives. Under the banner of saving the African environment, Africans in the last half century have been subjected to a new form of "environmental colonialism.”  39  Cribb (2007, p. 50-51) argues that the term, “national park”, emerged from the United States and New Zealand, both of which were settler colonies where the goal was to assert “a quasi-spiritual guardianship of the land in order to counter the older claims of indigenous inhabitants.” The spiritual guardianship doctrine has remained pervasive in conservation spaces. As Nelson (2003, pp. 67-68) explains, modern-day environmentalism is cast in Christian religiosity as exemplified by the notion of:  Saving the earth from rape and pillage, building cathedrals in the wilderness, creating a new Noah’s Ark with laws such as the Endangered Species Act, pursuing a new calling to preserve the remaining wild areas, and taking steps to protect what is left of creation on earth.   This kind of language and the documentaries that are beamed across the western world about African wildlife reinforce the image of Africa as a place that is full of animals, undestroyed by human civilization – pristine. African peoples only enter the discourse through the lens of ‘poaching’, ‘slash and burn’, ‘deforesters’, and all another manner of ugly terminologies. If they are cast in a semi-positive light, it is only as Maasai peoples (or equivalent), who are posed as the quintessential tourism product in the African landscape. All you see is a Maasai, clad in traditional regalia, jumping into the sky entertaining western tourists. This is Eden. Conservation spaces were primarily created for empire. As Murphy (2009, p. 20) points out, these were “places where the recreational hunter and recreational traveler emerged as key characters of colonialism.” The only difference is that the recreational hunter/trophy hunter is not a poacher. The African who is hunting for subsistence is the poacher. So, the trophy hunter continues to hunt in places where it is allowed. In countries where game hunting is prohibited, the travelers can only ‘shoot’ the animals with their cameras.  Until very recently, “flag independence15” governments in Africa have continued to advance the preservationist approach which has been a source of conflict between communities and governments at many of the protected areas around the continent. This has resulted in communities forming a negative attitude towards conservation and                                                  15 This refers to the mere change of flags at independence for African countries. The economies continue to be dominated by former and current colonial powers.  40  associated efforts. In as much as laws are changing to be more inclusive of communities in the management of natural resources, those implementing conservationist initiatives are often game guards or wardens trained in protectionist techniques (Adams, 2001). Arora (2006) argues that the ‘guns and fences’/fortress approach has, to a large extent, undermined conservation itself by “creating arenas of conflict when the forest-dependent and forest-dweller communities were forcibly evicted or denied their usufruct rights” (Arora, 2006, p. 59). Calling for the recognition and legitimization of the forest-dwellers’ rights in forests and other conservation areas as primary stakeholders ensures their constructive participation towards the achievement of conservation goals. Arora (2006, p. 59) recommends that “ultimately, conservation strategies have to respond to local contexts and mobilize local cultural perceptions of nature by taking account of their appropriation, the use and the abuse of nature.”  2.4 Community engagement: Conservation with a human face  Top-down approaches to development and conservation have failed to deliver economic growth, as well as social and conservation benefits to communities (Kothari et al., 2013). Many governments, as well as other players in the conservation sector, are now seeking to engage with communities living around or within protected areas in an effort to craft sustainable solutions (Reid et al., 2004). UNESCO (2007, p. 2) contends that:  Heritage protection without community involvement and commitment is an invitation to failure. Coupling community to the conservation of heritage is consistent with international best practice, as evidenced by comparable international regimes. Heritage protection, should, wherever possible, reconcile the needs of human communities, as humanity needs to be at the heart of conservation.  In the article, ‘From Communal to Protected Area’ discussing examples from Guatemala, Elías (2012) postulates that conservation should guarantee access for subsistence activities, above all for the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. Conservation efforts should be seen as a mechanism for poverty reduction, and not of poverty entrenchment. It is, therefore, critical that all projects, irrespective of whether their principal motivation is conservation and/or development, should assume 41  an integrated approach for the fight against poverty (Elías, 2012). Drawing examples from the Tholung Sacred Landscape of North Sikkim, India Arora (2006, p. 60) argues that policies that seek to engage with communities in conservation need to address the following questions:  Who is the local community and what are the livelihood needs? What are their local practices and indigenous knowledge/the historical and cultural linkages to the adopted conservation strategies? What is the current relevance of their local environmental knowledge? Who is to conserve what and for whom? Who are the other stakeholders in this landscape?  These kinds of questions are critical in ensuring understanding conservation spaces and people living around them. They also provide answers to the question – whose land is this?  2.5 Traditional territories and IKS: This land is our land  Conservation spaces are often found in territories claimed by indigenous peoples and local communities. These spaces, therefore, provide “a crucial sense of ‘place’ and identity” (Kothari et al., 2013, p. 13). This recognition is important in the furtherance of conservation goals because “environmental and cultural education attuned to specific places and peoples can play an important role in reviving or cultivating this sense of pride in ‘place’, as also the new relationship of the local with the global” (Kothari et al., 2013, p. 13). Application of IKS in conservation opens spaces for communities to participate in decision-making processes which, in many instances, have a great bearing on their livelihoods. In addition, it is critical to the improvement of livelihoods and the struggle against the exclusion of rural people worldwide (Boven & Morohashi, 2002).  This ‘sense of place’ is highlighted in a study conducted by Arora (2006) entitled, ‘The Forest of Symbols Embodied in the Tholung Sacred Landscape in the North Sikkim, India’. The study articulates the role of sacred landscapes in crystallizing community identities (the Lepcha in this case), recognizes sacred groves as an indigenous forest management system, examines cultural politics in the landscape, and brings to the fore issues of conflict between development and conservation of sacred 42  sites (Arora, 2006).  Essentially, Arora emphasizes that “conservation is a latent consequence while the idea of a sacred site preserves the forest and keeps it inviolate” (Arora, 2006, p. 55). The research project under discussion in this thesis anchors on some of these principles to enhance understanding of forest landscapes as cultural landscapes that are intrinsically tied to the communities’ ways of life and well-being.   Research has demonstrated that ‘‘most aspects of the structure and functioning of Earth’s ecosystems cannot be understood without accounting for the strong, often dominant influence of humanity’’ (Vitousek et al., 1997, p. 494). Irrespective of this level of awareness, environmental issues continue to be more intractable. Mascia (2003) recognizes that conservation policies and practices are inherently social phenomena and that the success of environmental policies should be interrogated through a social lens because they require changes in human behavior to succeed. According to UNESCO and Nuffic (2002), many case studies and research projects have shown that there are no general technical western solutions for solving contextual problems. The failure of many development interventions has been attributed to the fact that “these interventions have lacked both the will and the instruments to allow people to use their own knowledge” (UNESCO & Nuffic 2002, p. 8). UNESCO and Nuffic (2002, p. 8) further recommend that “greater efforts should be made to strengthen the capacity of local people to develop their own knowledge base, and to generate methodologies that promote activities for improving livelihoods in a sustainable way.”  2.6 From ‘Pristine wildernesses’ to a cultural landscape approach  In addition to embracing IKS, there is yet another paradigm shift taking place in the conservation community; the need to move away from the island mentality which Kothari et al., (2013, p. 5) describe as “zealously protecting a few isolated protected areas within a degrading landscape” to conservation in landscape settings, “in which multiple strategies of protection and sustainable use are employed in an integrated manner to ensure ecological connectivity.” This embodies a cultural landscape concept which recognizes the intricate linkages between the cultural and natural values in landscapes.  43  Essentially, most protected areas or landscapes or seascapes are not ‘pristine wildernesses’ without human presence. They have been shaped by human activities through an array of intangible and tangible cultural values, hence making them a diverse archive of human stories and venture (Kothari et al., 2013; Pretty et al., 2009). The Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory is an outstanding example of a cultural landscape. The park is inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List as a living cultural landscape for its fusion of cultural and natural properties that espouse its outstanding universal value. The park is managed through a mixed methods approach encompassing both scientific and IKS (UNESCO, n.d.). Cultural landscapes personify and reflect the historical, social, and economic relationships between people and place. The cultural landscape framework can provide a deeper understanding of landscapes and should inform management discussions and directions. However, the historical dimensions of people-landscape ties are not often recognized in contemporary management approaches.  Although the past cannot be changed, it can provide a more comprehensive understanding of historical society and landscape interaction that can act as starting point for management decisions and practices (Mahanty, 2003). At the heart of understanding cultural landscape is the need to interrogate environmental history. Smith (1999) adds that an exploration, deconstruction, and reconstruction of history is a critical and essential part of decolonization. By positioning and investigating questions of environmental and social change against a large mosaic of historical changes, an understanding of environmental history can contribute to a multi-layered appreciation of current global environmental issues. Employing a historical lens on questions related to human relationships with the environment is, therefore, extremely important to understanding the long-term implications of current environmental concerns (Govindrajan, 2007).   2.7 Merging natural and cultural heritage  In the same vein as a cultural landscapes approach is the effort to link both cultural and natural diversity in conservation efforts. Many of the world’s biodiversity 44  hotspots are also repositories of cultural diversity, but as knowledge on the links between culture and nature is advancing, the complex systems in landscapes are receding (Skutnabb-Kangas et al., 2003). Pretty et al. (2009) argue that, while conserving nature alongside human cultures presents unique challenges, any hope for saving biological diversity is only feasible through deliberate efforts to recognize, understand, and protect cultural diversity. Therefore, it is important to enhance the active regeneration and use of this “culturally ingrained capital” because it can enable communities to secure livelihoods with the limits of their environments, as this capital would act as a form of “cultural insurance” in the event of extreme events resulting in loss of resources (Pretty et al., 2009, p. 104).  This is not to say that cultures should be maintained in a fixed state, but that cultures should be allowed to evolve and chart their own paths as necessary, without being forcibly assimilated into dominant cultures. Thus, cultural groups could, for instance, evolve, embrace, and integrate modern practices into their ways of life, but still emerge as distinct cultural entities through time (Pretty et al., 2009). According to Kothari et al., (2013), there is an urgent need to identify and document initiatives dealing with the conservation of cultural diversity and acknowledge their contributions to conservation and social objectives. This should be done through:  Issues relating to tenurial security, respect for cultural and institutional diversity, integration of traditional and modern knowledge, sensitive recognition that does not undermine local institutions, dealing with local inequities, sharing, and devolution of decision-making authority, generating appropriate and sustainable livelihoods, maintaining or reviving community values in the face of cultural and economic changes, encouraging a facilitating role for external agents, the importance of a process vs. a project approach, and the need to focus on community-based conservation within large landscapes/seascapes should be integrated in the conservation process. (Kothari et al., 2013, p. 13)  Irrespective of the increasing appreciation of the role that IKS and culture can play in conservation and development, they remain under-researched because they are seen to be associated with the irrational parts of human life that do not lend themselves for rigorous research and scholarship (Lesley, Trigger & Mullock, 2005). Culture is seen as separate from other aspects of life rather than as an integral part of it, and is 45  associated with a high degree of variability. This is especially the case amongst indigenous and ethnic groups rather than mainstream society, making it seem like the indigenous and ethnic groups are a failed attempt at being like the mainstream society (Lesley et al., 2005). While recognizing that not all cultural ideas or practices are good for nature, Pretty et al. (2009) argue that, in many cases, communities that are largely resource-dependent have positive synergies with nature and that these synergies should be nurtured for the future. At the same time, Elías (2012) cautions researchers against the danger of falling into a romantic view of ‘primitive’, non-acquisitive villagers as environmental saints. Critical alertness and sensitivity to the limitations of indigenous communities’ knowledge and tools in present situations should be fully acknowledged (Elías, 2012).  2.8 A path forward  There is growing global consensus that the redesign of development interventions should start by examining local constructions, to the extent that they are the life and history of the people (UNESCO & Nuffic, 2002). This implies a change that comes from within communities themselves, having confidence in and deploying indigenous knowledge, among other things, to bring about economic and social progress (UNESCO & Nuffic, 2002.) The world stands at a pivotal moment in history in the search for a more equitable form of development that recognizes the place of human beings as crucial players in this endeavor. Global efforts point to greater interest in promoting paradigms of sustainable development that builds on knowledge resources existing in communities (Hoppers, 2002). In a study on recognizing the sacred natural sites and territories in Kenya, Adam (2012) finds that there is inadequate recognition of communities’ customary governance systems of sacred natural sites and territories. Further, there are an abundance of human-centred and reductionist legal frameworks, compounded by voluminous complex and contradictory policy frameworks. The study, however, recognizes opportunities for legal recognition under Kenya’s new 2010 Constitution, and recommends nurturing of community ecological governance and a furtherance of the philosophy of earth jurisprudence with guidance from elders (Adam, 46  2012). This recommendation reinforces the need for the kind of study under discussion in this thesis as it is specifically designed to bring local ways of knowing to the front burner with regards to forest management. IKS represents an immensely valuable database that provides humankind with insights on how numerous communities have interacted with their changing environment through time, but very little of this has been documented (Byaruguba & Nakakeeto, 2008). At the same time, humanity is losing these cultural value systems due to multiple factors such as the influx of western cultures and practices, high population growth, modernization, and high demand for resources, as well as poor documentation of such practices and knowledge (Hoppers, 2002). There is an abundance of rich knowledge of traditional practices and knowledge that could be assessed from the citizenry that lives near and within the natural resource in question. (Byaruguba & Nakakeeto, 2008). As Hoppers (2002, p.10) argues, IKS enables us to re-establish science as the story of all animals and not just the lion. It creates a process in which those that she refers to as being regarded as “refractory to the scientific gaze” become part of the empowering process and strengthen their capacity to forge genuine partnerships, as well as informed alliances for development. There is, indeed, an urgent need for a mutually respectful, synergistic relationship amongst various knowledge systems in our efforts to ensure sustainable development. The diversity of skills, expertise, and knowledge that communities bring to conservation initiatives, alongside those brought by external actors, makes for greater innovation and adaptability (Kothari et al., 2013). These synergies cannot be achieved if IKS remains inaccessible. One cannot integrate the two knowledge systems (if that is deemed desirable or appropriate) if one does not have knowledge of them, especially IKS. In the following section, I define the key concepts and theory used in this study.   2.9 Concepts and theory   Curiosity about the object of knowledge and the willingness and openness to engage theoretical readings and discussions is fundamental. However, I am not suggesting an over-celebration of theory. We must not negate practice for the sake of theory. To do so would reduce theory to pure verbalism or intellectualism. By the same token, to negate theory for the sake of practice, as in the use of dialogue 47  as conversation, is to run the risk of losing oneself in the disconnectedness of practice. It is for this reason that I never advocate either theoretic elitism or a practice ungrounded in theory but the unity between theory and practice. In order to achieve this unity one must have an epistemological curiosity – a curiosity that is often missing in dialogue as a conversation. (Freire, 1970, p. 97)   This study will adopt the International Labour Organization (ILO) definition of Indigenous people as “tribal peoples in independent countries whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other sections of the national community, and whose status is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions or by special laws or regulations” (ILO, 1989, p. 2). The idea of indigenous knowledge is a relatively recent phenomenon, gaining conceptual and discursive currency in the 1970s (Smith, 1999). The 1970s were a watershed moment in the struggle for the emancipation of indigenous people around the world through the constitution of the United Nations working group on indigenous populations. It is the dialogues initiated by this working group that led to the crafting and adoption of the 2008 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people. According to Hoppers (2002, p. 8), IKS refers to the “combination of knowledge systems encompassing technology, social, economic and philosophical learning or educational, legal, and governance systems. It is knowledge relating to the technological, social, institutional, scientific, and developmental including those used in the liberation struggles.” Further, IKS is not about cultural objects/artefacts and expressions, such as dances, but rather about the traditions, technologies, and thinking behind those cultural objects and expressions (Hoppers, 2002). Dei (2002) posits that Indigenousness refers to the traditional norms, social values, and mental constructs that guide, organize, and regularize African ways of living in making sense of the world. Different forms of knowledge, for example, knowledge as superstition, knowledge as belief in the invisible order of things, and knowledge as “science”, all build on one another to provide interpretations and understanding of society.  Thus, different knowledges represent ways that people perceive the world and act on it (Dei, 2002 as cited by Chilisa, 2012). The goal of this research project is to explore ways in which we can forge sustainable people-forest relationships through 48  engagement with, and use of, IKS. The concept of sustainability was popularized by the 1987 Brundtland Commission of the United Nations. The Commission defined Sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (United Nations, 1987, p.16). In as much as the term was coined in 1987 (United Nations, 1987), I have found through my interactions with many indigenous communities around the world that sustainable resource use is a practice that was embedded in their way of life prior to their encounters with colonialism.   In an effort to understand sustainable people-forest relationships, I seek to anthropomorphize (Nashon, 2004) the forest/land (attributing human characteristics to the forest). Maathai articulates this concept in her work ‘Replenishing the Earth’. She writes:    If we live in an environment that is wounded – where water is polluted, the air is filled with soot and fumes, the food is contaminated or the soil is practically dust – it hurts us, chipping away at our health and creating injuries at physical, psychological and spiritual level. In degrading the environment, therefore, we degrade ourselves and all of humankind. The reverse is also true. In the process of helping the earth to heal, we heal ourselves. If we see the earth bleeding [emphasis added] from the loss of topsoil, biodiversity…and we help reclaim it for instance, through regeneration of degraded forests – the planet will help us in our self-healing and indeed survival. (Maathai, 2010, p. 17)  In anthropomorphizing the forest, I am interested in a process that embraces the unity of theory and practice that Paulo Freire (1970) talks about in Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I seek to use theoretical frameworks that the community can relate and contribute to. I am, therefore, drawn to indigenous theories. I am compelled to explore ways in which indigenous knowledge can contribute to theory building, and how the crafting of conceptual frameworks can challenge deficit theorizing and inform research interventions that valorize the cultural heritage and worldviews of communities. I will use Dei’s “anti-colonial discursive framework” (Dei, 2000) as an umbrella term comprised of the various Afrocentric theoretical formulations that I will engage with in this research project.   49   2.9.1 The anti-colonial discursive framework  The missionary had traversed the seas, the forest, armed with the desire for profit that was his faith and light and the gun that was his protection. He carried the Bible; the soldier carried the gun; the administrator and the settler carried the coin. Christianity, Commerce, Civilization: the Bible, the Coin, the Gun: Holy Trinity. The native was grazing cattle, dreaming of warriorship, of making the soil yield to the power of his hands, slowly through a mixture of magic and work bending nature’s laws to his collective will and intentions. In the evening he would dance, muthunguci, ndumo, mumburo in celebration or he would pray and sacrifice to propitiate nature. Yes: the native was still afraid of nature. But he revered man’s life as much as he revered nature. Man’s life was God’s sacred fire that had to remain lit all the way from the ancestor to the child and the generation yet unborn. (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 1977, p. 88)  According to Dei (2000, p. 7), the anti-colonial discursive framework is “a counter/oppositional discourse to the repressive presence of colonial oppression. It is also an affirmation of the reality of re-colonization processes through the dictates of global capital.” This framework hinges on the theorization of colonial and re-colonial relationships, and unpacking the manifestations and consequences of asymmetrical power relationships that characterize our world today. These power asymmetries are seen in “the process of knowledge production, interrogation, validation and dissemination; claims of indigeneity and indigenous knowings; and, the recourse to agency, subjective politics and resistance” (Dei, 2012, p. 112). Dei (2012, p. 112) further points out that anti-colonial theorizing should aim at transformation and not only the understanding “of complexities, messiness, disjunctures, contentions, and contradictions of social realities.” The use of the word ‘discursive’ is meant to avoid the totalizing nature and rigidity that theory is associated with. The use of the term ‘discursive’ also encourages fluidity and transparency (Dei & Asgharzadeh, 2001). It moves away from the tendency to over-valorize certain theoretical formulations at the expense of enaging with new ideas and view points. The anti-colonial discursive framework emphasizes the celebration of cultural traditions through:  50  Celebration of oral, visual, textual, political, and material resistance of colonized groups, which entails a shift away from a sole preoccupation with victimization. It engages a critique of the wholesale denigration, disparagement, and discard of tradition and culture in the name of modernity and global space. (Dei & Asgharzadeh, 2001, p. 301)  This framework further warns Africans against being “intellectual imposters” Nyamnjoh (2012), whose mission is to embrace, regurgitate, and promote western theories at the expense of African interests, because this leads to “cultural violence, self-hate, and mimicry” (Nyamnjoh, 2012, p. 4). In that sense, then, Dei (2012, p. 102) stresses that “we need to develop theoretical prisms or perspectives that are able to account for our lived experiences and our relationality with other learners, prisms rooted in our cultures, histories, and heritage…We must stake out our own discursive and political positions.”  Dei (2012) argues that the value of any social theory must be judged against its philosophical underpinnings and its ability to contribute to social and political questions.  This is related to “consciousness and responsibility to/of producing, sharing, claiming, and gaining knowledge” (Dei, 2012, p. 104). The anti-colonial framework draws from the well of African knowledge systems and takes a stance against “the everyday devaluation, denial, and negation of the creativity, agency, resourcefulness and knowledge systems of African peoples” (Dei, 2012, p. 107). To achieve this:   We must understand the relations of political power and geographical and social spaces, as well as the strategic importance of land as a place of affirmation of histories, identities, and cultures of resistance. Anti-colonial intellectuality and praxis is about bringing ideas into fruition as social practice, as grounding and testing theories in the contexts of the liberatory struggles of our peoples as well as the people with whom we work in political solidarity…recognizing the links among culture, knowledge production, and colonization of land and space…our development of anticolonial knowledge production and intellectualities should remain rooted in histories, cultures, and revolutionary political traditions of African people's radical resistance to colonialism. Our work benefits from rich legacies of committed and visionary political action and our theories must be sophisticated enough to broach and sustain good political practice. (Dei, 2012, p. 107)  Drawing from Dei’s thoughts, this research work will be anchored on land and Agĩkũyũ cultural heritage as formulated in their socio-political, spiritual, and economic worlds. In the following sub-section, I will discuss Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o ‘dismemberment and 51  remembering’ theory and the theoretical formulations of Amilcar Cabral and Thomas Sankara’s anticolonial and environmental thought. To my mind, these theories fall within the umbrella of Dei’s ‘anti-colonial discursive framework’. Dismemberment and remembering   It was becoming clear to me that the question of memory may not only explain what ails contemporary Africa but may also contain the seeds of communal renewal and self-confidence. (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2009, p. ix)   Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o uses the terms ‘dismemberment’ and ‘remembering’ to theorize the struggles of African peoples, as well as for presenting solutions going forward. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o (2009) understands dismemberment as a tearing apart of the continent and its peoples. The first of these dismemberments happened during the brutal slave trade, which dislocated millions of Africans from their homes and spread them all over the world in the service of empire. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (2009, p. 6) writes that the slave trade represented the:   Dismemberment of the diasporic African, who was now separated not only from his continent and his labour but also from his very sovereign being. The subsequent colonial plantations on the African continent have led to the same result: division of the African from his land, body, and mind.    The slave trade, therefore, was a precursor to colonialism, which then led to the enslavement of Africans on their own land. It is this second form of dismemberment that I will focus on in this thesis. Dismemberment in the colonial period manifested itself in various forms. According to Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (2009), these included decapitation of African heads, loss of land and livelihoods, loss of memory, and loss of cultures. I will now examine these briefly.  To assert colonial authority, the builders of empire employed several strategies to subdue the population, and to stifle dissent and resistance. One of the most prominent strategies was the elimination of leaders of the respective groups. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (2009) draws from the examples of Waiyaki wa Hinga of the Agĩkũyũ in Kenya, King Hintsa of the Xhosa, in South Africa, the Ashanti golden stool, and the Matabele in Zimbabwe. Waiyaki wa Hinga (discussed in chapter 1 of this thesis) “was buried alive in 52  Kibwezi, head facing the bowels of the earth in opposition to the Gĩkũyũ burial rites’ requirement that the body face Mount Kenya, the dwelling place of the Supreme deity” (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2009, p. 3).  This was designed to quash Gĩkũyũ resistance to colonial oppression. In the same vein, the British decapitated the Xhosa king, Hintsa. His head was taken to the British Museum, along with other heads, such as that of the Maori King (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2009). The British colonial governor in Gold Coast (now, Ghana) demanded that the Ashanti produce the golden stool, “the embodiment of the Ashanti soul”, as a way of weakening and scuttling their resistance. The Ashanti succeeded in hiding the stool during the colonial period. The stool resurfaced after independence. The imperial magnate, Cecil Rhodes, demanded to be buried in the sacred burial sites of the Matabele people in Zimbabwe. Cecil Rhodes’ goal was to colonize the African people from Cape Town in South Africa all the way to Cairo in Egypt. His reign was one of terror to African peoples. He led the conquest of vast tracts of territory and named some of them after himself – northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). According to Rhodes, the English were a master race because “we are the first race in the world, and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race" (BBC, 2015, n.p.). Rhodes demand to be buried in the sacred burial sites of the Matabele people and as Davidson (n.d.) argues, this was a way to continue the humiliation and torture of a people who had already been on the receiving end of Rhode’s oppression for decades. It is as though Rhodes wanted to continue mocking them even in death. There are numerous examples of the elimination of African leaders through either exile or death and as Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (2009, p.4) argues:  The relationship between Africa and Europe is well represented by the fate of these figures. A colonial act-indeed any act in the context of conquest and domination, is both a practice of power, intended to pacify a populace, and a symbolic act, a performance of power intended to produce docile minds.  Dismemberment scatters, it shames, it humiliates, it demonizes, it diminishes, it disintegrates, it weakens, it wounds communities for generations. As demonstrated in chapter 1, the pain of Waiyaki’s death is still a sore wound among the Agĩkũyũ people 53  today. According to Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (2009, p. 6), Hintsa’s and Waiyaki’s dismemberment went a step further in dislocating one from memory because the physical removal of the head (the carrier of memory) means that “memory is cut off from the body and then either stored in the British Museum or buried upside down.” As Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (2009, p. 5) further explains:   The lynching of captive Africans in the American south, often accompanied by the brutal removal and public display of genitalia…The beheading of King Hintsa and the burial of Waiyaki alive, body upside down, and the removal of the genitalia of the Africans in America, go beyond the particular acts of conquest and humiliation: They are enactments of the central character  or colonial practice in general and of Europe’s contact with Africa in particular since the beginnings of capitalist modernity and bourgeois ascendancy. This contact is characterized by dismemberment. An act of absolute social engineering, the continent’s dismemberment was simultaneously the foundation, fuel and the consequence of Europe’s capitalist modernity.   Some scholars have argued that the slave trade fueled Europe’s industrial revolution (Harley, 2013; Rodney, 1972; Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2009; Fanon, 1961). If that is the case, then, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (2009) posits that the industrial revolution ensured the transition to the next phase of dismemberment, because colonialism provided raw materials, markets for finished goods, as well as strategic defense of trade routes. The manifestations of colonial dismemberment are discussed extensively in this thesis (See chapters 1, 4, and 5). The other form of dismemberment is characterized by intellectual cleansing through the “planting of European memory in Africa” (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2009, p. 1). This was manifested through mapping, discovery, and naming of African landscapes (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2009). I have discussed the example of naming of Nyandarwa Ranges as Aberdares in this thesis. Naming is seen as a harmless intervention given the fact that some of the most iconic African landscapes and waterscapes still bear colonial names. As Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (2009, p. 9) points out, “European memory becomes the new marker of geographical identity, covering up an older memory or, more strictly speaking, burying the native memory of place”, a potent form of dismemberment. Dislocation from the land during colonial occupation, slicing the land 54  up into many pieces in the name of management, destruction of knowledge systems associated with living on the land, and creation of pristine wildernesses in the name of conservation are all dismemberment practices. It is against this backdrop that we must launch a “remembering” project. Remembering is a revolutionary act. To end this section, I will again quote Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s earlier work because he (even then) articulates what remembering is all about – a struggle against forgetting buttressed with a struggle for redemption of African peoples. He writes that:    The oppression of black people is a fact. The scattering of Africans into the four corners of the earth is a fact…That our people fought against the Arab slave raiders is a fact: that the Akamba built formidable defences against them even when trading with them in ivory is a fact. That our people resisted European intrusion is a fact: we fought inch by inch, ridge by ridge, and it was only through the superiority of their arms and the traitorous actions of some of us that we were defeated. That Kenya people have had a history of fighting and resistance is, therefore, a fact. Our children must look at the things that deformed us yesterday, that are deforming us today. They must also look at the things us which formed us yesterday, that will creatively form us into a new breed of men and women, who will not be afraid to link hands with children from other lands on the basis of an unashamed immersion in the struggle against those things that dwarf us. (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 1977, p. 246)  Working against the things that dwarf us should entail revitalization of African ways of knowing, memorializing those who struggled for African liberation (both the living and the dead), mourning those who died during slavery and colonialism, building Africa’s cultural infrastructure, restoring of African memories, cultivating political consciousness, and restoring of African dignity in all spheres of engagement. In the following section, I turn to the theory embedded in the work of Sankara and Cabral. The anti-colonial thought and environmental philosophy of Thomas Sankara and Amilcar Cabral   Where is imperialism? Look at your plates when you eat. The imported rice, maize and millet; that is imperialism…Let us try to eat what we control ourselves. (Thomas Sankara, n.d., as cited in Dembele, 2013, para. 10)  Thomas Sankara, “a great combatant for African dignity, integrity and human liberation” (Sy, 2007, para. 1), served as the president of Burkina Faso (formerly named 55  Upper Volta) from 1983 until 1987, when he was assassinated by “neo-colonial forces” (Biney, 2013, para. 4). Sankara renamed the country from the colonial name to Burkina Faso, which means “Land of Upright Man”. Sankara was a revolutionary figure, a thinker, a strategist, and a doer. At the heart of Sankara’s revolution was the restoration of African dignity through harnessing the knowledge, cultures, and resources within their continent. As Dembele (2013, para. 3) writes, “the Sankarist Revolution was one of the greatest attempts at popular democratic emancipation in post-Independence Africa, and is considered a novel experience of broad economic, social, cultural and political transformation.” At the core of the Sankara’s philosophy was endogenous development, which Dembele (2013, para .1) describes as:  The process of economic, social, cultural, scientific, and political transformation, based on the mobilisation of internal social forces and resources and using the accumulated knowledge and experiences of the people of a country. It also allows citizens to be active agents in the transformation of their society instead of remaining spectators outside of a political system inspired by foreign models.  In his short time in office, Sankara mobilized Burkinabe people to attain food self- sufficiency, embark on ambitious ecological restoration of their landscape, build infrastructure, stand firm against foreign aid, and rebuild the economy which was left in tatters by the departing French colonial regime (Dembele, 2013; Murrey, 2016; Sy, 2007). From the above quote, one can argue that Sankara was a defender and believer of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and recognized their role in ensuring responsive and just development. Sankara connected with the masses of Burkinabe people and articulated his ideas in a manner that resonated with the needs of people. As Sy (2007, para. 28) explains:   Sankara’s revolution was simple: work more, spend less and spend better, produce more, be concerned with the priority needs of the country. He said “our revolution is and must be permanent; the collective action of the revolutionaries to transform reality and improve the concrete situation of the popular masses our country. Our revolution will only have a value, if, looking back, we will be able to say that the people of Burkina are a little happier because they have clean drinking water, sufficient food, good health, education, decent housing and more freedom, more democracy, more dignity. Our revolution will have a right to exist if it can answer these questions concretely. 56   As an African woman, I am also attracted to Sankara’s praxis on women because he made a case for the liberation of women. Sankara possessed a sophisticated understanding of freedom and emancipation in his time. Food self-sufficiency and related ecological restorative work is directly tied to women in Africa. According to the Gaia Foundation (2016), African women produce 80% of food on about 14.7% of the agricultural land base. This means that African women are in touch with the land, and holders of key knowledge systems on seed propagation, storage, dissemination, and knowledge on caring for the land. Therefore, Sankara was correct when he argued that:   We cannot transform society while maintaining domination and discrimination against women, who comprise more than half our society… Our revolution has worked for three and a half years to progressively eliminate demeaning practices towards women… Also they must be engaged as Burkinabe producers and consumers… Together we must always ensure access of women to work. This emancipatory and liberating work will ensure women’s economic independence, a greater social role and a more just and complete knowledge of the world. (Sankara, n.d., in Dembele, 2013, para. 13)  I grew up in a rural area, and I know and have seen the role of women, and I have personally been, and am still involved in agricultural work. The linkages between women and food security are, for me, a lived experience. That is why Sankara remains an iconic figure in understanding the mix between sustainable living and emancipatory struggles. Regarding food security, Sankara illuminated his philosophy by elucidating the linkages between imperialism, neo-colonial encirclement, and sustenance for Burkinabe and African peoples in general. Sankara was a strong crusader against imperialism. In a speech to the United Nations in 1987, he said:   We have been indebted for 50, 60 years and even more. That means we have been led to compromise our people for 50 years and more. Under its current form, that is imperialism controlled, debt is a cleverly managed re-conquest of Africa, aimed at subjugating its growth and development through foreign rules. Thus, each one of us becomes the financial slaves, which is to say a true slave, of those who had been treacherous enough to put money in our countries with obligations for us to repay. We are told to repay, but it is not a moral issue. It is not about this so-called honour of repaying or not… Debt cannot be repaid, first because if we 57  don’t repay, lenders will not die. That is for sure. But if we repay, we are going to die. That is also for sure. (Sankara, 1987, n.p.)   Sankara understood the link between ecological sustainability and food security. This was demonstrated by ecological restoration programs, such as tree planting, which were designed to combat deforestation. He explicitly linked imperialism and ecological devastation when he said, “The struggle for the trees and the forest is the anti-imperialist struggle. Imperialism is the arsonist of our forests and our savannahs” Sankara, n.d., in Dembele, 2013, para. 30). This statement rings true today as Africa and Africans are feeling the heat of climate change, the causes of which (greenhouse gas emissions) they have not significantly contributed to (Dembele, 2013). Sankara understood then what many conservationists and governments are now beginning to grasp; that conservation without the involvement of people and for the people is an exercise in futility. Therefore, Sankara (1988, pp. 155-156) argued that:  Our struggle to defend the trees and the forest is first and foremost a democratic struggle that must be waged by the people. The sterile and expensive excitement of a handful of engineers and forestry experts will accomplish nothing! Nor can the tender consciences of a multitude of forums and institutions – sincere and praiseworthy though they may be – make the Sahel free again, when we lack the funds to drill wells for drinking water just a hundred meters deep, and money abounds to drill oil wells three thousand meters deep!   Meaningful community engagement is a critical and often missing ingredient in conservation in the Kenyan context, as well. Sankara makes a strong case for sustained engagement with people as a key towards resolving conservation and livelihood challenges. He demonstrates the links between environmental protection and the direct impacts on people. I will draw from the Sankarist philosophies in engaging in discussions in the following chapters. In the following section, I turn to the environmental thought of Amilcar Cabral, who always emphasized that ‘our people are our mountians.’ According to Lopes (2006, p.1):  Cabral used to say that one must remember that people do not fight for ideals or for things on other people’s minds. People fight for practical things: for peace, for better living conditions in peace, and for their children’s future. Liberty, fraternity 58  and equality are empty words for people if they do not mean a real improvement in their lives.  Amilcar Cabral led the struggle for independence movement in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde from 1963 until 1973, when he was assassinated “by agents of the fascist Portuguese state” (Tarifa, 2014, para. 1). This occurred eight months before the attainment of independence that he so gallantly fought for. Cabral was unique in the landscape of African liberation struggles because of the strength of his belief that a revolution must be anchored in theoretical formulations (Akuno, 2014). Cabral understood liberation as a struggle against oppression in its various manifestations. To this end, he made an argument for interrogating our cultural traditions and building on their strengths to support this cause (Tarifa, 2014). Culture, according to Cabral, is the equivalent of a flower to a plant because, just like a flower, it is important “for forming and fertilizing the seedling which will assure the continuity of history…[and] assuring the prospects for evolution and progress of the society in question” (Cabral,1970, para. 15). Hence, the deliberate destruction of cultural foundations of colonized societies is a direct affront to their development and progress. The results of this destruction can be seen in many African societies today because, as Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (1993) argues, Africans continue to cast their gaze towards Europe. Everything African is ridiculed, undervalued, dismissed, and dismantled, including by Africans themselves, and with the full support of African governments. This is aptly described by Okot p’Bitek (1966) in ‘Song of Lawino’ in which the “uneducated” Lawino laments of her husband Ocol. Lawino has questions for her Makerere University-educated husband, Ocol. But, when she asks questions, Ocol says “the answers cannot be given in Acoli” because it is not a “rich enough to express his wisdom, because it has very few words”, unlike the white man’s language, “which is rich and very beautiful. A language fitted for discussing deep thoughts” (Okot p’Bitek pp. 140-141). Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (1993) argues that language is the carrier of culture. Thus, the devaluation of indigenous languages is the first stage towards cultural destruction, and this remains a problematic issue in Africa today. 59  Cabral made a case for home-grown ideologies that are informed by knowing what one wants, and how to achieve it based on one’s own conditions and situations. He emphasized the engagement with ideologies that that are developed through interactions with the masses. Cabral (1970, para. 9) argued that:   The value of culture as an element of resistance to foreign domination lies in the fact that culture is the vigorous manifestation on the ideological or idealist plane of the physical, and historical reality of the society that is dominated, or to be dominated. Culture is simultaneously the fruit of a people’s history and a determinant of history, by the positive or negative influence which it exerts on the evolution of relationships between man and his environment, among men or groups of men within a society, as well as among different societies.   It is important to note that Cabral did not advocate for an uncritical use of culture. He maintained that the weaknesses of respective cultures must be fully acknowledged. In the same vein, Fonlon (1967, pp. 21-22) argues that:  It is imperative to steer clear of two extremes: on the one hand, the imperialist arrogance which declared everything African as only fit for the scrap-heap and the dustbin, and, on the other hand, the overly-enthusiastic and rather naive tendency to laud every aspect of African culture as if it were the quintessence of human achievement.   Cabral reiterated that there was nothing wrong with borrowing positive elements from other cultures and using them with or alongside one’s own culture in the struggle for freedom. This, he believed, would create a more powerful form of resistance. Further, he made a case for ‘class suicide’, which the ‘petit bourgeoisie’ needed to commit to align themselves with the masses or peasantry that made up the greatest segment of the population (Akuno, 2014). He called for action-oriented leadership, people-driven leadership, and anti-oppression leadership. While working as an agronomist for the Portuguese colonial government, Cabral gained a deeper understanding of the intersection of culture, agricultural productivity, and environmental conditions (Idahosa, 2000). Having worked extensively in the agricultural sector prior to his active involvement in liberation struggles, Cabral gained an understanding of the conditions, ways of life, ways of being, and philosophies of the rural communities. 60  He also witnessed first-hand the suffering that comes from ecological devastation, colonial policies, and destruction of livelihoods. His politics were, therefore, hinged on real and lived experiences. Cabral writes, “I saw folk die of hunger in Cabo Verde, and I saw folk die of flogging in Guinea (with kicks, beatings, and forced labour)… this is the entire reason for my revolt” (Cabral 1969, p. 111). He was concerned about nature, culture, and community livelihoods. Cabral believed “that the best way of defending the land is the best way for defending people” (Idahosa, 2000, p. 38). He understood the intersections between land use, colonization of land and labour, and subsistence. He noted the shift from growing of food crops, such as rice, to monoculture agriculture exemplified by the growing of groundnuts for export. This created a situation of exploitation from international markets and global capital (Idahosa, 2000). Cabral encouraged the need for production to be indigenous and endogenous – safeguarded from the tentacles of foreign domination. Therefore, from an ecological view point, he, like Sankara, understood the linkages between colonial domination, food security, and community livelihoods. I concur with Cabral that people fight for practical things and not empty ideals. Freedom means nothing if it does not translate into the capacity and opportunity for ensuring community livelihoods in all their various manifestations. Cabral remains a powerful intellectual force in helping to interrogate the challenges facing the African continent today. Indeed, as Dembele writes:   Forty years after his assassination Cabral’s ideas remain more relevant than ever. His premature demise robbed Africa’s revolutionary season of one of its most prominent and original theoreticians. Cabral was a leader intimately involved in the life of the masses and imbued with the fundamental values of his people. He was both a visionary and a passionate panAfricanist, a living symbol of the kind of leadership of which Africa has been cruelly deprived at this time, where there are growing threats of recolonization. (Dembele, 2013, as quoted in Fall, 2014, para. 21)  At this point, I would like revisit Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s dismemberment theory. I would argue that that the assassinations of Cabral and Sankara, as well as many other African freedom fighters – the true freedom fighters’ – not the “enemies of the people” (Sankara, 1983, n.p.) who masquerade as freedom fighters – is another form of 61  dismemberment. The continent is consistently robbed of revolutionary thinkers and defenders of African interests. In fact, to see African revolutionaries one would need to visit the cemeteries. That is where they lie. But, their individual and collective legacies continue to inspire those that continue to strive for African freedom(s). I would further argue that the split between the elite/educated and the peasant masses, as illustrated between Ocol and Lawino above, is another is another manifestation of dismemberment. As Nyamnjoh (2012, p. 5) argues, we can trace a line back from colonial education system because “those emasculated and neutralized by colonial education, in turn, seek to neutralize and emasculate all those and everything around them. They fancy and favour imported thinking and things in European greenhouses under African skies.”   The educated/elite are an expression of “the uncritical internalization of colonial and colonizing yardsticks of being educated and being modern” (Nyamnjoh, 2012, p. 5). In that sense then, the elite, who are represented by governments and other agencies, are incapable of aligning themselves with the needs and aspirations of the people. They cannot develop, articulate, and implement the ideologies and the cultural revolution that Cabral was talking about. Cabral insisted that, ‘Our people are our mountains.’ He was referring to the fact that Guinea Bissau was not a mountainous country and therefore, they could not necessarily engage in guerrilla warfare using the landscape as a launching pad. However, if the people understood what they were fighting for and were mobilized effectively, then they would be as formidable as the Kilimanjaro, or Kirinyaga, or Nyandarwa, or all the other African mountainscapes which sustained the struggle against imperialism. To this end, we need to listen to Lawino who tells us, “Listen Ocol, my friend, the ways of your ancestors are good, their customs are solid, not hollow. They are not thin, not easily breakable. They cannot be blown away by the winds, because their roots reach deep into the soil” (Okot p’Bitek, 1966, p. 29).   2.10 African ethnophilosophy   Theory cannot remain a privileged discussion among so-called academics and intellectuals that fails to evoke or be directly informed by anti-oppressive 62  actions and practice. There is the necessity to create discursive frameworks that affirm the inseparability of theory and practices, to create what can be called a definitional power of anti-colonialism. (Dei, 2012, p. 107)  Chilisa (2012) highlights methods based on ethnophilosophy as strategies for conducting research with an empowerment imperative. These methods are also useful for theorizing with indigenous people. According to Emagalit (2001, cited in Chilisa, 2012, p. 131), ethnophilosophy refers to the African worldview that is “encoded in language, folklore, myths, taboos, and rituals”. These are banks where knowledge is stored and can be retrieved to triangulate with data from traditional sources. This approach echoes the concept of ‘Funds of Knowledge’ articulated by Molls (1992, p. 133) as, “historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of knowledge and skills essential for household functioning and well-being.” This concept is based on the premise that people (including those considered to be at the margins of society) are knowledgeable, that they have something to offer, and that their life experiences have given them knowledge. These are discussed in the following sub-section.    2.10.1 Stories and proverbs  Among the various forms of ethnophilosophy that Chilisa (2012) discusses, I feel that stories and proverbs will contribute to establishing useful theoretical frameworks to guide this research project. According to Chilisa (2012), in proverbs and metaphors, we find philosophical and theoretical frameworks from which we can ground research that draws from the value systems of communities to inform program interventions that address the needs of people. Positive proverbs can be powerful in challenging deficit theories and in exploring community ideologies. Tsepa (2008) points out that the enormous diversity of stories among indigenous societies are the building blocks of indigenous environmental thought. They provide an opportunity to understand communities’ points of reference on different topics. Stories have been used to collect, deposit, analyze, store, and disseminate information, as well for units of socialization. They are instruments of teaching. Among these forms of stories are folklore, stories of origin, folktales, legends, and mythical stories in song and poetry (Chilisa, 2012). 63  Stories fill in the gaps and provide missing literature, theories, conceptual frameworks, and research methods in a post-colonial indigenous research paradigm (Chilisa, 2012). Stories, proverbs, and other forms of African orature are at the heart of our civilization and culture.  The art of storytelling around a fire as the children waited for dinner often cooked over an open fire and three stones was a defining element of many African societies. Stories were a way to keep children entertained and awake. The stories served to entertain, educate, and encourage creativity in children. It was an effective form of informal education (Maathai, 2007). I can relate to this as I grew up in this tradition and experienced fireside storytelling. Stories are imbued with relational ontologies emphasizing the interconnectedness that exists among both the living and the non-living. An example of this is the aspect of sharing food and drink with the ancestors that is found among many African societies. This is a tradition that, to date, continues to be practiced among the Agĩkũyũ and Ameru of Kenya. When people from these communities gather to drink beer, a little of the beer is poured on the ground as they say, “this is for the ancestors.” Chilisa (2012, p. 141) recounts a similar tradition:   My grandmother used to require that we share every evening meal with the ancestors. As we gathered around the fireplace to eat our evening meal, we would first take a handful of the dinner and put it on the floor as a gift for the dead; then we ate.  In the same vein, Maathai (2010, p. 50) provides another example from Agĩkũyũ people:   The Agĩkũyũ had many rituals and practices that expressed gratitude for the bounty of their region and its continuance. Traditionally, a small portion of the harvest was always delivered to a specific open area or grove away from the village and usually at a crossroad that everyone knew of. This was called the granary of God/ikumbi ria Ngai. Here a farmer was obliged to leave a portion of what had been harvested as kind of tithe for wild animals or the very vulnerable in society…it was their way of contributing to common good.    These kinds of practices legitimize the relational aspects of a post-colonial indigenous research paradigm. Practices, such as sharing food, exchanging gifts, and communicating with the living in prayer, song, dance, or speech, are indigenous ways of communicating a philosophy, beliefs, and worldviews (Chilisa, 2012). In Indigenous 64  Storywork: Educating the Heart, Mind, Body and Spirit, Jo-ann Archibald (2008, p.12) writes, “Stories have the power to make our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits work together… Only when our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits work together do we truly have an indigenous education.”   2.10.2 Afrocentric relational ontologies, epistemologies, and axiologies  This study will be augmented by Afrocentric relational ontologies, epistemologies, and axiologies, as espoused in the philosophy of Ubuntu, which addresses relations among people, relations with living things and non-living things, and a spiritual existence that promotes love and harmony among people and communities (Chilisa, 2012). Ubuntu is a philosophy that revolves around the acknowledgement of the interconnections of all of humanity. According to Ubuntu, I am we, I am because we are.  This philosophy has been developed by Bantu (one of the language groupings on the continent) in southern Africa and has been popularized by, amongst others, Nobel Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Nelson Mandela.  Ubuntu is intrinsically linked to relational epistemologies, ontologies, and axiology in the context of research. To my mind, Ubuntu is linked to the Harambee/pulling together for common good philosophy popularized by Jomo Kenyatta, the first President of Kenya and the Umuganda philosophy in Rwanda. Umuganda is a practice that draws on traditional aspects of Rwandese culture and involves coming together to perform tasks for common good. The practice has been popularized in the efforts to reconstruct the country after the genocide and is enshrined in the constitution. Harambee is tied to the idea of “democratic African Socialism” which is a rejection of both Capitalism and Communism (Republic of Kenya, 1965). Under this model, Kenya hoped to reorganize and mobilize the social heritage and colonial economic legacy for “a concerted, carefully planned attack on poverty, disease and the lack of education in order to achieve social justice; human dignity and economic welfare for all” (Republic of Kenya, 1965, p. 1). Ubuntu is also similar to what Mathabo Tsepa (2008) describes as ‘Re-seng’, a Basotho philosophy that espouses inter-relations between living and non-living things. Somjee (n.d.) ties Ubuntu to the concept of utu/personhood. Utu is manifested in peace and 65  conflict resolution which is imbued in nature through peace trees, peace animals, and geographical splendor. For instance, “Memories and dreams of utu are complimented in nature’s manifestations of greatness and beauty. The Agĩkũyũ face Mount Kenya in prayers seeking peace because God inhabits in its beauty and greatness” (Somjee, n.d., para. 10). To wind up this chapter, I want to bring my own experiences into the discussion through the lens of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s theory of dismemberment and remembering.   2.11 Reflecting on my own dismemberment   Cultural community knowledges were not affirmed in my education and it has taken many years of struggle to shed the Eurocentric gaze and interpretations that have been ingrained in my thinking. (Dei, 2012, p. 103)   I would like to return to Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s theory of dismemberment and remembering, using myself as an example. Dei (2012), quoted above, pinpoints what I would like to discuss – dismemberment through the formal education system. This dismemberment is aptly captured in ‘Song of Lawino’ by Okot p’Bitek (1966). Lawino (the ‘uneducated’ wife) laments about her ‘civilized’ husband, Ocol. Ocol treats Lawino as a ‘thing’. She is not a person any longer for she has not seen the light that comes through education and Christianity. Ocol insults Lawino and his “words cut more painfully than sticks”. According to Ocol, Lawino and her kin “sit in deep darkness” because they “do not know the Gospel”, they are “sorcerers”, they are “foolish”, they are “primitive.” Ocol has become impossible to live with because his tongue “is fierce like the arrow of the scorpion, deadly like the spear of the buffalo-hornet, it is ferocious… and corrosive like juice of the gourd” (Okot p’Bitek, 1966, p. 16).  This passage from Okot p’ Bitek’s work is more relevant today than when he first wrote this book in 1966. The African education system has continued to perpetuate the belief that the only way to get educated is through the formal education system. As an African, one ends up learning more about other cultures (especially those of former and current colonizers) than their own. I do recall that when I started school, we learnt our local languages, but this was stopped by the time I was in standard three. We were not told why we could not learn these languages any longer. What became evident is that if 66  you were caught speaking in your mother tongue, you were punished through various methods. The worst of these, in my view, was the carrying of dirty smelly items, such as a bone, that you would be required to hang around your neck all day until you came across the next mother tongue speaker and gave it to them. If one did not find anyone who spoke in their mother tongue, one was stuck with the bone or another item. One would need to wear it the next day as well – traumatizing. This is done to ensure that we learn to speak English. But now looking back, I feel that the goal here was to humiliate. It was to associate these languages and the cultures they carried with dirty, stinking objects, and it worked very well because I avoided speaking my language at all costs. I can fully understand when Lawino says that, “Ocol pours scorn on black people, he behaves like a hen that eats its own eggs. A hen that should be imprisoned under a basket” (Okot p’Bitek, 1966, pp. 16 -17). That is the unfortunate legacy of the formal education system in Africa. The school system has become a place to memorize and regurgitate, a place to learn how to valorize other cultures and to diminish your own. Basically, by the time I left the school system, I was convinced that Africans had never achieved anything and needed redemption.  All that we were taught was that everything had been discovered by white people. This includes anything and everything from the theory of gravity to mountains that sat on our own land. I remember being taught that Mount Kirinyaga/Mount Kenya, the home of Murungu/God in our Ameru cosmology, was discovered by Ludwig Krapf. When we were taught the history of colonialism, it was done is a very superficial manner that did not inspire confidence or create a sense of pride in the struggle for Africa’s liberation. Indeed, the story of Africa’s liberation remains untold, misunderstood, and undermined. History was seen as the subject to avoid because “those things of the past” cannot really take you anywhere. It has taken my own initiative to educate myself outside of the formal school system and to re-learn about African ways, life, and viewpoints. So, my interest in indigenous knowledge is also a way to redeem myself. Like Ocol above, we are taught to have contempt for the uneducated who make up the masses of the rural base. This is a strategic mistake, more so with regard to conservation and land use. I do not recall ever being taught about African conservation 67  or African environmentalism at the university. I was studying in a university that is situated is in a country which is home to one of the greatest environmentalist movements in the world (the Green Belt Movement16), but we did not learn about that. During my time, the more forward-thinking professors had a difficult time getting the notions of community development and conservation through to the university administration.  The conservation that I was taught was preservationist conservation; conservation that is anti-people. When we started learning about communities, it was emphasized that one should go to teach communities conservation because they are destructive. They are cutting all the forests and laying the land bare! We must save these forests from the people. I recall one professor whose favourite topic was DuPont, the American multinational corporation, and I always kept thinking that this is so far removed from my reality, but there we were. This is just an example of the many cases of externally derived content that contribute to damaging any hope in the agency of Africans as a people. As Nyamnjoh (2012, p.1) points out:  In Africa, the colonial conquest of Africans-body, mind and soul-has led to real or attempted epistemicide – the decimation or near complete killing and replacement of endogenous epistemologies with the epistemological paradigm of the conqueror. The result has been education through schools and other formal institutions of learning in Africa largely as a process of making infinite concessions to the outside-mainly the western world. Such education has tended to emphasize mimicry over creativity, and the idea that little worth learning about, even by Africans, can come from Africa.   Another form of dismemberment comes forth through the materials or books available to African students at African universities. Based on my experience (as a student in two African universities), I can concur with Nyamnjoh (2012, p. 13) who argues that:   Most African university libraries are underfunded, struggle to keep pace with the latest publications of relevance, and are often desperately under stocked and at the mercy of donors dying to dump old and outdated publications as a sort of                                                  16 The Green Belt Movement and Wangari Maathai were only added to the Kenyan curriculum in 2016. 68  intellectual ‘toxic’ waste. Libraries that are well stocked and even with material of direct relevance to critical scholarship informed by African perspectives and predicaments may find such books and journals under-consulted because of curricula and scholarly traditions that pay scant attention to African sources.  I had great difficulties with this lack of relevant materials when I was undertaking my undergraduate degree. I will explain this through a journal entry that I wrote for a course on indigenous methods with Professor. Cash Ahenakew, here at the University of British Columbia. One of the requirements for this class was to read several papers, books, and book chapters and submit your reflections in the form of a journal entry. In this journal entry, I reviewed chapter one of Bagele Chilisa’s book Indigenous Research Methods. I share my response, below.  Chapter 1: Situating Indigenous Knowledge Systems: Journal entry, 14 September 2014.  Summary of Chapter  In this chapter, Chilisa discuses decolonization and indigenization of dominant (Euro-western) research models. She argues that these approaches exclude the knowledge systems and ways of knowing of the historically marginalized and oppressed groups from contributing to the research process. In essence, research contributes to the process of “Othering”, further colonization and marginalization of these groups, Chilisa argues. She discusses two approaches to bringing other ways of knowing into an equal footing in the scholarly examinations of our world; decolonization of dominant research approaches and postcolonial-indigenous research paradigms informed by relational epistemology, axiology, and ontology.  Journal entry   I am writing this journal entry a day before my birthday, and I feel a sense of empowerment. I am happy to be taking this course this semester. One of my motivations to take the course, was simply the fact the Professor Ahenakew had listed a book by an African scholar in the reading list. Let me explain. I have always been bothered by the way education seemed to be alienating me from anything remotely African. This troubled me greatly especially when I was an undergraduate student (2000-2004), as I could not find books written by African scholars. So, I wrote my essays and assignments and quoted other scholars and with every citation I felt a huge sense of disempowerment and hopelessness. Granted, there were African scholars who had published works but most of those were in not in this area of study. Most of them were in literature. I was thinking to myself – Don’t Africans write anything? Is it only white people who know things? 69  What is wrong with us? I was familiar with the Kenyan scholar, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s work on ‘decolonizing the mind’, and kept wondering if we had not been irredeemably colonized – both physically and psychologically. Chilisa is unequivocal. She addresses all the issues that have bothered me for decades and it fills me with immense pride to see an African writing such a book, and articulating issues so eloquently. For me, Chilisa answers the question, “What is wrong with us?” The answer is – there is nothing wrong with us. Absolutely nothing. That makes me feel at peace.  The fact that I can access books by African scholars today, books with which I can relate, books that speak to my experiences, books that challenge me to think for myself, think for ourselves, is a very powerful balm to my psyche. When I cite the works of Wangari Maathai, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Sefa Dei, Achile Mbembe, Thomas Sankara, Amilcar Cabral, and many more in this thesis, it is to me, a kind of coming home. It is a kind of coming of age. My ideas and understanding of African conservation and environmentalism have expanded beyond what I was taught in my undergraduate degree and I now can tap from the wealth of the writing of African scholars who may not be perceived as environmentalists/conservationists at first glance. In my journal entry above, I said I could not quote from the works of African scholars because those that I knew of were in the field of ‘literature’. While this is true in terms of classification, I have come to understand that these works (I am talking about people like Chinua Achebe, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Okot p’Bitek) are not necessarily just ‘literature’.  They tackle many pertinent issues relating to African realities, including environmental issues, because in Africa, life in not fragmented into bits and pieces – it is simply life. It plays out in complex environmental settings. This was a great misunderstanding on my part and the education system that I was exposed to did not help. Nyamnjoh (2012, p. 13) is absolutely correct when he argues that even when African sources are available, they remain “under-consulted because of curricula and scholarly traditions that pay scant attention to African sources.” My ideas and understanding of conservation have expanded based on my interactions with communities (see section on my positionality), as well as a deliberate attempt to educate myself. I opened this section with a quote from Dei to illustrate the fact that this is a struggle and that is based on personal initiative and effort. This is what 70  remembering is all about. I have chosen to explore my own dismemberment to illustrate the fact that education can also be miseducation. Education can tear apart, can scatter, can dislocate – can dismember. It can also be used in building memory and remembering if it is an education that is anchored in emancipatory objectives and visions. What should we do going forward? To answer this question, I will quote Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, who I now have come perceive as one of Africa’s greatest environmental thinkers:   Africa, endowed with enormous human and natural resources is the biggest continent. Its encirclement – its being denied a seat in the United Nations Security Council, its being defined in terms of North and South of the Sahara, then into Europhone zones (Franco-, Anglo-, Luso-, Hispa), its being free for all external forces to intervene – has to do with that fact. Keep Africa eternally weak, eternally divided, eternally fighting religious wars, eternally buying weapons of war, eternally using the military against African populations, eternally assuming the west, Europe in particular, is heaven. The fact is, for the last 400 years, Europe and the West have been Africa’s hell, with Africa a European heaven. Africa must become Africa’s heaven. But it is only Africa that can realize this for itself, lift itself into being a respected player in the world. It must rediscover and affirm self-pride, first by respecting the lives of the least amongst us…relate to the world on the basis of reciprocity…the challenge is to make African diversity in languages, culture, and religions a strength, not a weakness. (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2016, p. xv-xvi)   At the core of this quest for self-respect and wholeness that Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o talks about is an awareness cultivation exercise that should be anchored on appropriate education. Given the above discussion, it is fair to say that there is intellectual famine in Africa. There is starvation because of a lack of appreciation of local and intellectual indigenous nourishment. The intellectual land is parched and dry and yearning for rain. The land is filled with intellectual GMO’s that are empty of life and which do not sustain livelihoods, but rather transform Africans into caricatures of mimicry. The intellectual crops lack a strong foundation. Education is discussed extensively as one of the pillars of the three-legged African stool (see chapter 5).     71  2.12 Chapter summary  This chapter has outlined the scope of literature related to indigenous knowledge systems, historical perspectives, and community engagement in conservation. It also highlights the theoretical direction that will undergird discussions in this thesis. Some of the key themes emerging from this discussion include: conservation as a discipline and practice still steeped in coloniality; a sustained effort to recognize IKS at the international level; and efforts to recognize the role of communities’ and their cultures in conservation. This chapter demonstrates that communities have been resisting continued colonization of their spaces. This is exemplified through the recognition of ICCA’s. These spaces (ICCA’s) are now legitimate conservation spaces because communities have put up a sustained struggle against imperialistic models and ideas of conservation. I have presented a historical account of the origins of conservation and the role colonialism has played in its development. Historical accounts are important in understanding not just conservation itself, but also the issues of (in)justice tied to it. While legislation is changing to recognize communities and IKS there remains a gap between policy and practice regarding community oriented conservation. This can be explained by the fact that, while material aspects like land were captured, colonized, and conserved, there was also a capture of minds and knowledge (Dei, 2006). Therefore, Dei (2006, p. ix) further argues that resistance must be anchored on issues related to “education, information, and intellectual transformation.” Colonial dismemberment practices of creating protected areas (including the site of this study) have been discussed; the impacts on communities are felt today. This is tied to land use and living with and on the land and the weakening of associated knowledge systems. This is further embedded in formal education structures that continue the seizure of minds that Dei (2006) mentions above. As such, colonialism must be thoroughly interrogated and its various capillaries of power understood. This understanding is critical in working towards its overthrow. The change in legislation and recognition of communities as stakeholders in conservation discourses and spaces should be understood as a form of community resistance to imperial models of conservation. As discussed in this chapter, these changes have not not strengthened 72  the role of IKS in conservation. The major reasons for these are the hegemony of western ways of knowing and a lack of understanding about what IKS really is and how it works. As Dei (2006, p. 7) argues, in the present day, “Eurocentric knowledge masquerades as universal knowings. Today, this fabrication continues to exact a heavy material, physical, psychological and emotional toll on those segments of our communities racialized as different. Their bodies bear scars of intellectual combat.”  Therefore, the need to revitalize and engage with IKS is still a relevant and much-needed intervention. This calls for an examination of historical accounts and the positioning of them in present-day discourses. Historical excavation should be understood as a remembering practice. This has been highlighted through the praxes of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Cabral, and Sankara. This historical engagement and mobilization should be built around the people, the masses who have been silenced by various forms of imperialism. They are the pillar around which new visions should be constructed. The following chapters will, therefore, seek to delve into history and use historical accounts to answer to the research questions. Further, the role of the community as agents and not subjects of their landscape and stories will be highlighted as the findings are discussed. In addition, I will seek to unpack the difficulties, the lack of meaningful community engagement in conservation irrespective of the prevailing friendly policy environment. With regard to the theoretical formulation, the following chapters will be anchored on Dei’s (2002) anti-colonial discursive framework. Emphasis will be placed on a celebration of cultural traditions (e.g., songs, proverbs, stories, language, cultural practices), the application of Gĩkũyũ indigenous environmental thought in interpreting data, the centering of land as the space where histories, identities, cultures, and livelihoods are formulated, and an examination of Africa’s peoples’ resistance to colonialism. At the core of this study is the desire to understand how we can leverage of Indigenous Knowledge Systems to ensure sustainable people-forest relationships. To this end, the study aims to present community voices and understanding as conceptualized within an IKS framework. The next chapter will discuss the methods of data collection and analysis.  73  Chapter 3:  Methodology  Every research activity is an exercise in research ethics; every research question is a moral dilemma, and every research decision is an instantiation of values. (Clegg & Slife, 2009, p. 24)  3.1 Introduction   This study explored people-forest relationships among the Agĩkũyũ people of central Kenya. It seeks to understand the sustainability of the relationships through Indigenous Knowledge Systems, guided by the following research questions: 1) how have the indigenous communities around Nyandarwa Forest Reserve traditionally understood and sustained interdependencies with their local forest?; 2) how have these interdependencies transformed consistent with Kenya’s post-independence changes in social, economic, and political situations?; 3) to what extent are the local, national, and international efforts to promote healthy sustainable people-forest relationships are incorporating local communities’ IKS?; and, 4) how might these communities’ IKS inform the proposition of an environmental conservation framework for sustainable people-forest relationships? In an attempt to address the above questions, the study was framed, implemented, and analyzed through Dei’s “anti-colonial discursive framework”, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s “dismemberment and remembering” theory, as well as the anti-colonial and environmental thought of Amilcar Cabral and Thomas Sankara. These frames are enriched by African orature and ethnophilosophy as manifested through stories and proverbs that offer key theoretical, methodological, and philosophical frameworks.  These frameworks and post-colonial indigenous paradigms, which are driven by decolonizing methodologies (Chilisa (2012), informed my choice of research methods. I used a combination of approaches, which encompasses indigenous, participatory methods (Kovach, 2012; Wilson, 2008; Chilisa, 2012) governed by the traditions and cultural heritage (Chilisa, 2012) of the Agĩkũyũ people, who live around the Nyandarwa Forest Reserve. These methodologies were critical in how entrance to the community was gained, as well as the selection of the participants, data analysis, forging collaborations, and establishing long-term relationships with communities (Tsepa, 74  2008). Underpinning post-colonial indigenous paradigms are relational ontologies, epistemologies, and axiologies. Relational ontologies in this study were formulated through the understanding of I/we relationships as opposed to I/you formulations. Further, I approached my research work with an understanding that people’s reality is shaped by interactions with their environment and the cosmos. Relational epistemologies are undergirded by the belief that knowledge is constructed in the midst of others, i.e., it is not an individualistic affair. Relational axiologies, on the other hand, emphasize the need to build relationships based on respect, representation, and reciprocity. I sought to capture the reality of research participants by engaging with them from a position of relationship building, sharing my own experiences, and emphasizing the need for community and collectivity. Post-colonial indigenous paradigms are also anchored in an effort to decolonize knowledge production and the knowledge itself. Decolonization is a process that aims at contributing to the rebirth of societies relegated to the bottom of human hierarchy by multiple forms of colonialism (Hoppers, 2002). Mugo (1998) writes that “colonialism remains a factor insofar as it provided the framework for the organized subjugating of the cultural, scientific, and economic life of many on the African continent (Mugo 1998, p. 6 as quoted in Hoppers, 2002, p. 10). According to Esteva (1992, pp. 6-7):  The subjugation extended in a spectrum from people’s ‘way of seeing’, their ‘way of being’, their way of negotiating life processes in different environments, their survival techniques, to technologies for ecologically sensitive exploitation of natural resources. All these knowledge systems were, en masse, rendered irrelevant to their use as millions of people became transmogrified by the combined advent of modern science and colonialism, into an inverted mirror of western identity – a mirror that belittled them and sent them to the back of the queue.  Maathai (2010) further emphasizes that perhaps the most unrecognized problem in Africa today is disempowerment as a result of deculturation. Similarly, Chilisa (2012, p. 117) writes that the limitations of dominant research methodologies include:   75  The tendency to ignore the role of imperialism, colonization, and globalization in the construction of knowledge; academic imperialism – the tendency to denigrate, dismiss, and attempt to quash alternative theories, perspectives, or methodologies; methodological imperialism – a tendency to build a collection of methods, techniques and rules that valorize the dominant culture; the dominance of euro-western languages in the construction of knowledge; the archives of literature that disseminate theories and knowledge that are unfavourable to former colonized societies and historically oppressed group.  In the same vein, Linda Smith, a Maori scholar, discusses how research has continued to be used as a tool for further colonization in her book, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. Smith (1999) calls for a process of decolonization of research through the strategies of deconstruction of negative and misleading narratives, and subsequent reconstruction, self-determination and social justice, ethical research practices, and use of language to validate indigenous ways of knowing. Further, she calls for internationalization of the indigenous experiences, a deliberate effort to study history, and a need to critique the imperial model of research (Smith, 1999).  It is against this background that I sought to design a research project in which the community could find space to articulate their knowledge(s), challenges, passions, viewpoints, and hopes for the future as relates to their landscape, and their place in it. A variety of strategies were employed to engage with communities as partners in the research project. These will be discussed in the following section. I will begin by presenting the process of participant selection, methods of data elicitation, and modes of analysis. This will be followed by an examination of validity and reliability, the significance of the study, and ethical considerations.   3.2 Selection of participants   Two community groups (from the eastern and western side of the Nyandarwa forest) were purposively chosen as research participants. One of these groups was actively working with the Green Belt Movement (GBM17), while the other group had worked with the GBM in the 1990’s during efforts designed to restore the forest. It was                                                  17 The Green Belt Movement was founded by Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai in 1977. Its goal is to work with communities to restore forests and livelihoods.  76  important to draw the groups from the two sides of the forest because they have different climatic patterns, land use activities, and socio-economic conditions.See Appendix B for a breakdown of particpants by geographic location and gender. I chose the Nyandarwa Forest Reserve because it is a well-established ecosystem with a long history and an area in which the GBM has been working for over 20 years. In addition, the history of the Agĩkũyũ people has been documented by several scholars, and this is important for the verification of data and triangulation. I also had key contacts who were instrumental in accessing the community in this landscape.   3.3 Researcher-community relationship building   I started making contacts with my research team in 2012. I had just connected with an old friend through Facebook. We undertook our undergraduate degrees together at Kenyatta University, in Kenya. At that time, my friend was working for the Green Belt Movement in eastern Nyandarwa. I had started developing a lot of interest in the GBM, and I was pleased to find somebody who could provide answers to my numerous questions. My friend provided me with interesting information about the dynamics of the communities that they were working with and encouraged me to explore the aspect of IKS as there was much held by elders in the community, but no systematic recording of this knowledge. I toyed with various ideas for research topics at the start of my Ph.D. in 2014 and finally settled on the current topic of people-forest relationships and IKS. After wrestling with this topic and assembling a proposal, I thought it would be a good idea to get a feel for the community’s thoughts.  At the end of 2014, I went to the community to discuss if they would have an interest in this topic at all or how it could be improved. I contacted my friend and asked him if we could meet some of the people he had been working with in eastern Nyandarwa. By then, he had left the Green Belt Movement, but he was still in touch with some people. We were searching for community groups to talk to on both sides of the forest. He had lost the phone number of the chairman of the group on the eastern side, so he contacted someone and asked for the number. The number he was given turned out to not be the number of the chairman of the group, but another elder who was 77  referred to as ‘chairman’ because he leads several community-based organizations on the eastern side of the forest. Nonetheless, we agreed to meet with this ‘chairman’ to discuss this research project with his group. This wrong contact ended up being the right contact in so many ways, as we shall see below. We met with this elder/chairman in December 2014. We agreed to meet at a designated spot on the edge of the forest. My friend realized that this was the wrong chairman when we met him! What to do? We explained our case and said this was all a mix up of identities. We had a good laugh. Our plan was to meet the right chairman, discuss the research project, and explore the possibility of meeting with the group. But, here we were with another chairman who we did not know. So, we came up with a second plan. We requested this chairman to take us to the forest. We wanted to see big trees. The chairman was gracious. He reorganized his whole day and took us to the forest. He knew the forest inside-out. We went deep into the forest, and he instructed us on what to do if an elephant(s) showed up. We, in our infinite wisdom, did not think about elephants before we went into the forest. The only weapon we had was a machete, which the chairman would use to clear the paths. We descended deep gorges and rose to elevated sections (see Figure 3.1.).          a.  Figure 3.1 Touring the forest in eastern Nyandarwa.  At this point, I began to think that if an elephant showed up here, we were all going to be dead in a minute. I did not think I would be able to follow or remember the instructions that the chairman had just told us about what to do if an elephant showed 78  up. I could visualize an elephant flinging me towards the canopy. But we carried on, the gigantic trees beckoned! We could barely see the sky in some sections! My friend turned to me and said, “I cannot believe that the British wanted to take all of this from us.” The chairman said, “this land was worth fighting for.” I caught my breath and thought of Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi and all the Mau Mau warriors of freedom. And I said, “indeed.” The chairman thrilled us with his knowledge. He knew the names of each tree, shrub, what they are used for, which one is good for producing charcoal, farm implements, hanging beehives, etc. Any movement in the bush stopped us (my friend and me) in our tracks! We eventually came out of the forest after our impromptu three-hour expedition. The chairman also took us to the PELIS18 scheme that he chairs. He is responsible for distribution of parcels of land and ensuring that those cultivating on these parcels follow the agreed upon rules. I decided to share my research ideas with him, and ask what he thinks. He had already demonstrated his knowledge to us in the forest but, here again, he dazzled us with his understanding of IKS. He even told us that he makes traditional medicine. He took us to his home, and my friend bought five litres of medicine from him. He also gave us some tree seedlings from his nursery. He showed us an assortment of indigenous crafts, his self-assembled windmill, and his collection of videos that he has shot documenting various community activities. I then asked him if he knows of any group that we can work with. He recommended a group that had worked with the GBM in the past. We agreed to remain in touch. Once we had a contact in the east, it was time to explore the western side of the forest. My friend knew the GBM official who was now stationed in western Nyandarwa. He contacted her and asked if there was a possibility of conducting a meeting with the group she was working with. It turned out that the group was meeting every day as they were engaged in tree planting activities on the hillsides of western Nyandarwa at that time. She, therefore, invited us to come and join them for the tree planning activities.                                                   18 A Taungya-like system where communities are allowed to grow crops on forest land as long as they take care of trees.  79  We travelled to the west and did just that. It was humbling to see the efforts that these women and men put towards the restoration of this landscape. They, for instance, had to carry tree seedlings from the bottom of the mountain, hoist them on their backs, scale the mountain, and then plant the seedlings. They also have to ensure that the seedlings survive. This was the first time that I saw the Green Belt Movement community members in action. It was inspiring and empowering to watch. We joined them in tree planting. When you watch these GBM community members in action, you understand that tree planting is not simply an act of ecological restoration. Digging up the soil, touching the moist soil of the Nyandarwa ranges, sharing implements, distributing seedlings amongst each other, talking and removing the seedlings from the plastic bags then submerging them into the soil, covering them up, hoping that the rain falls when it is supposed to ensure survival of the trees, then collecting all the plastic bags for the next cycle of planting – tree planting is an act of courage, passion, love, and hope. It is about community mobilization, knowledge revitalization, replenishing the earth, caring for the land, caring for each other, building networks, building communities, cultivating resilience, and so much more. Maathai (n.d.) encapsulates all of this when she says, “When we plant trees, we plant seeds of peace and hope.”  Once we had planted trees, the GBM contact then introduced my friend and me to the group. One of the main things that they wanted to know was which community I came from. I said I was from Meru. Then, one of the group members said: “Wameru ni watu wazuri/the Ameru are good people.” The others agreed. I had been screened and seen to be fit. Next, we sat down and had a conversation about my research interest/topic. I explained my research and highlighted that I was interested in a community-driven process. I wanted to hear their thoughts about this research topic. An interesting discussion ensued with contributions from different members. The community members were very forthcoming with information. Some people spoke about their knowledge of firewood species, seed propagation, harvesting of honey from hollow sections of trees, and the uses of different tree species. Then I asked them, “so, would you be willing to partner in this research project?” One of the women asked, “why should we not partner with you…are you not our child?” I was humbled. I felt a sense of 80  kinship. In many African societies, a child is seen as belonging to the whole community. It is the same among the Gĩkũyũ. So, we agreed that I will come back the following year to carry out the actual research work. I returned to Canada in January 2015 with a lot of confidence about the possibilities that this research project could bring if it was executed within a framework of honest community engagement.         a.                                                                       b.                   c.                                                                                 d.   Figure 3.2 From left to right: a) Meeting with community members of the GBM in western Nyandarwa; b) author planting a tree; c) GBM women hoisting tree seedlings on each other’s backs; and d) GBM community member planting a tree.   81  October 2015  Before leaving for Kenya in October 2015, I got in touch with all my contacts and informed them that we will begin the research work once I arrived. I had taken pictures of the ‘chairman’ and the community group in the west when I met them in 2014. I printed these pictures and brought them with me during our preliminary/planning meetings. This proved to be a very important activity in terms of trust-building. Usually, people take pictures and video footage of communities and never return to show the results or to return the pictures. I was not necessarily doing this to build trust. I just thought it was good practice based on my previous experiences working with communities. But, I could hear people conversing and saying that “this is wonderful, nobody has ever done this to us”. When I took the chairman with me to meet elders, he always said that: “Kendi came here last year, we talked, I took them to the forest, she took pictures, and she even brought us the pictures!” I heard some complaints about people who had filmed community members to produce documentaries, but the community never saw what was produced. So, returning the pictures demonstrated, on some level, that I could be trusted.                   Figure 3.3 Returning the pictures in western Nyandarwa. 82  When we met elders, I would introduce myself and say that I am a Mumeru. Some elders would say that “the Ameru are our in-laws” or “the Ameru stood with us and we fought the Beberu together. They were in Mau Mau.” In that sense, I was read as an ally. Ethnicity is a very pertinent issue in community relations in Kenya today. It has now become openly interlinked with politics and permeates intra-community relations. I always wonder whether entry to the community would have been difficult if I was not a Mumeru, but someone from another community that might not perceived as an ally to the Agĩkũyũ. I did not encounter any difficulties in gaining entry into the community. Once I had explained my research topic, elders would often say, “ask as many questions as you want.” As I mentioned earlier, I had contacts who introduced me to people that they knew, who then introduced me to others.  My contacts would also find participants through other older community members who would then direct us to the right elders. I recall one example in Nyeri, eastern Nyandarwa. We had been told of an elder who we could interview, and we decided to go look for him. On the way there, my friend saw his high school teacher and we stopped to greet him. My friend explained the kind of research that we were conducting. The teacher told him that we should interview the eldest member of the village, a 90-year-old man. He offered to take us there, and on we went. Once we arrived there we did not find him. On our way back, the teacher came across a group of elders, and he asked them if they had seen the elder we were looking for. They said they did not know where he was but that they would call him. A 90-year-old has a cell phone? I was surprised by this. So, he received the call and said that he is at the bottom of the ridge collecting fodder for his cattle and that he would come up and speak to us. We returned to his home and waited for him. The teacher stayed on and we ended up conducting a very interesting interview because the 90-year-old elder, the teacher, and another elder joined the conversation. I encountered several situations in which an interview turned to be more than just an interview with one person.  In some cases, interviewees gave me gifts. As I reflected in my journal:  Today one of the women brought me arrowroots. This filled me with joy. Arrowroots are indigenous. This is the food of our foremothers and fathers. It sustained them. It gave them strength. It was the fruit of the deep, rich and red 83  Gĩkũyũ soil. It was my connection to Gĩkũyũ territory and a welcoming into the land. It was a beautiful offering. She explained to us the difference between Gĩkũyũ indigenous arrowroots and non-indigenous ones. She said to me, “you go try this. And when you come back tell me how it is.” When I see her I will tell her that it was sweeter than honey! (Journal entry, 23rd October 2015)  When I went back in 2015, one of my great and urgent concerns was to find a group in the east. Recall that I did not meet a group in the east in 2014. I only met the chairman who told us that he knew of a group we could work with. So, we organized a meeting with the group that chairman had identified. We discussed the research project with the group members and they, too, were receptive to the idea.  The chairman offered us his home as a meeting place. The generosity extended to us throughout this project was more than I can ever repay. On the first day, his family made food for all 16 of us. It came as a surprise to me. So, we made his home our base for a week and had very fruitful discussions, sometimes punctuated with a great deal of laughter. We were all learning. We were sharing. We were interrogating ourselves. The group was very open and the use of the talking circle method proved to be absolutely critical in ensuring that everybody’s voice was heard. Sometimes participants contradicted each other. Sometimes, they corrected each other. One of the group members in the west offered us their home, where we met for five days. She insisted on making food for my assistant and me every day. These are not wealthy people, but their hearts are wealthy! Elders on both sides of the forest would also offer us food when we visited their homes. And we could not decline. They would insist and say that “I do not allow people to come to my home and leave without eating something.” That is the Gĩkũyũ way.  I only encountered one instance where an elder was not willing to part with information, especially on the Mau Mau. When we agreed to have a joint community meeting in the east, the chairman again opened his home to us. There were times when we got stuck in the mud when it rained and community members came to our rescue because they knew what we were doing. One elder hosted us in his home when we stayed till late in the field. He reorganized his family to accommodate us. All of these acts of generosity and kindness made me think of the Olenguruone song. This song 84  was composed by the squatters of Olenguruone from where the Mau Mau movement originated. It encapsulated their pain and solidarity. It also highlighted the generosity and reciprocity of Gĩkũyũ culture. The song was sung widely in Gĩkũyũland and remains critical in memorializing the struggle for independence, as well as the defining elements of Gĩkũyũ heritage. The song goes like this:  Wendani ndonire kuo Wa ciana na atumia Mboco yagwa thi tukenyurana Hoyai ma, thai, thai ma Amu Ngai ni uria wa tene  Great love, I saw there Among women and children When a morsel was picked from the ground It was shared equally among us Pray to him fervently He is the God eternal. (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2010, p. 126)  I have reflected on relationship-building in this section because I now strongly believe that the data collection for this research project could not have been successful if I had not invested time in relationship-building beginning in 2012. Relationship-building is at the core of indigenous and Afrocentric scholarship and paradigms. According to Wilson (2001, p. 177):  An Indigenous paradigm comes from the fundamental belief that knowledge is relational. Knowledge is shared with all creation. It is not just interpersonal relationships, or just with the research subjects I may be working with, but it is a relationship with all of creation. It is with the cosmos; it is with the animals, with the plants, with the earth that we share this knowledge. It goes beyond the idea of individual knowledge to the concept of relational knowledge . . .[hence] you are answerable to all your relations when you are doing research.   I feel a sense of kinship with the soil, with the trees that we planted, the seeds that we touched, the fruits of the land that we ate, the stories that we shared, the laughter that we shared. I wish to continue that solidarity with research participants for, as Chilisa (2012) argues, that relationship-building should continue beyond the end of the research project.  85  3.4 Methods of data elicitation  Data was collected using a combination of methods (talking circles, elder interviews, interviews with the Kenya Forest Service, archival research, and metaphorical strategies). These will be discussed in the following sub-sections.   3.4.1 Talking circles   Talking circles are an improvement over the Focus Group Discussion (FGD) method (Chilisa, 2012). They draw from African and indigenous cultures in general. Unlike in FGDs, where outspoken or opinionated individuals can dominate or shape the discussion, talking circles are designed to enhance fairness and balance. Mbiti (1991) argues that circles are used as symbols of the continuity of the universe in many African societies. Circles are symbols of eternity, of unendingness, of continuity. They are used in rituals, in art, in rock paintings, and as decorations on stools and domestic utensils (Mbiti, 1991). Ekeke (n.d.) extends the analysis of circles to African conceptions of time. According to Ekeopara (2005), Africans understand time in a cyclical fashion instead of in the linear chronological fashion of the western world. This is derived from reading the agricultural seasons because “the seasons of the year repeat in an eternal cycle. The agricultural season begins with the rainy season and ends with the dry season” (Ekeopara, 2005, p. 63, as quoted in Ekeke, n.d., p. 14). Hence, time is perceived as a movement of natural phenomena as presented through the eternal order which shaped the universe.  Formation of circles is a common feature in many African societies. Circles are formed around a fireplace, when passing judgements, when holding community meetings, and when performing ceremonies. Circle formation is manifested in Agĩkũyũ cosmology and societal construction. For instance, Agĩkũyũ traditional architecture was circular in nature, justice was delivered in circular settings, and ceremonies (including the very important initiation rite) featured cyclical movements. Consider this passage from Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (1965, p. 41):  Everyone went into a frenzy of excitement. Old and young, women and children, all were there losing themselves in the magic motion of the dance. Men shrieked 86  and shouted and jumped into the air as they went round in a circle [emphasis added].... Women, stripped to the waist, with their thin breasts flapping on their chests, went round and round the big fire [emphasis added], swinging their hips and contorting their bodies in all sorts of provocative ways, but always keeping the rhythm. They were free. Age and youth had become reconciled for this one night. And you could sing about anything and talk of the hidden parts of men and women without feeling that you had violated the otherwise strong social code that governed people's relationships, especially the relationship between young and old, man and woman.  Circular movements are emphasized as a way of remaining connected to the land, through initiation and sanctioning moral codes. Circle formation was critical in justice-related matters; justice was a strong pillar of Agĩkũyũ societal organization. When elders came together to ciira/discuss a case and pass judgment they sat in a circle and talked until an agreement was reached. I highlight the use of circles amongst the Agĩkũyũ to demonstrate that formation of circles is an integral part of Agĩkũyũ culture. The current method of seating arrangements that are found in churches or other communal gatherings, where the clergy or other persons in positions of authority peer down on people, are not Gĩkũyũ ways. According to Running Wolf and Rickard (2003), in using talking circles each person is given a chance to speak without interruption. The talking circle encourages sharing of ideas, mutual respect, togetherness, compassion, and equality for all members of the circle. To ensure this, a sacred object is used and passed on from one speaker to the other. The holder of the object speaks without interruption. Talking circles were used to gather data from the two community groups. A total of ten talking circles were held for this project (five with each group). The groups were made up of between 12 to 16 individuals. These talking circles were conducted at the homes of group members who offered to host us during the five days when we agreed to meet. The research project was explained to the community, and room was created to address any concerns. We agreed on what time to meet and the duration of these meetings (usually two hours19). We also stressed that this was not, in any way, an effort                                                  19 Sometimes the meetings lasted for three hours, when we had to work on maps. 87  to test who knows what and who does not. It was an effort to learn and share – this applied to everybody.                                               Figure 3.4 A talking circle with a participant holding a winnowing tray. I put forward the idea of using talking circles when I first met each of the two groups. I suggested that we use a cultural object which would be passed on from one speaker to another. I was very nervous about making this suggestion because Christianity and missionaries painted, and continue to paint, all African objects and creations as witchcraft. I knew that all of these groups were comprised of Christians and, therefore, did not want to upset anyone by making this suggestion, especially when I was still trying to gain entry into the community. I was very careful about how I framed the suggestion. I made it into a discussion point. I explained why it would be of use, and how it would help our meetings proceed smoothly. I emphasized the point of giving space to everyone to be heard. To my great relief, the idea was received very positively.  In fact, some of the elders in the meetings took it upon themselves to explain to the group how this was a Gĩkũyũ way of doing things. They illustrated this with concrete examples. They even suggested how the circle should be set up. I now moved forward and asked them if any of them had a suggestion of an object that we could use for the 88  five meetings that we would hold. I anticipated that we would use one cultural object during our five meetings with each group. To my surprise, the elders said that it would be good to use a different object on each day. In total, we used and discussed 12  objects: ten of these during the ten talking circles with the two groups, and two during the joint community workshop discussed below. These objects included a fly whisk, a gourd, a three-legged stool, a cow bell, a horn, a winnowing tray, bows and arrows, a sharpening stone, a calabash, a walking stick, and a chisel. Before starting each talking circle, an elder explained how each object was made, how it was used, and its importance in Gĩkũyũ culture. They went further and debated the destruction of their cultural infrastructure using these objects.         Figure 3.5 Participants demonstrate how to use some of the cultural objects. There were animated discussions about these objects and recognition of the indigenous technologies that were used to produce them. These objects facilitated the constructive collection of knowledge, and reinforced relationship building through mutual respect. There was also an appreciation that these were products of Gĩkũyũ land, especially the metal implements that were forged from Gĩkũyũ soil. This turned out to be a very important exercise in engaging in ‘appreciative inquiry’ (Chilisa, 2012). It was very interesting to see the younger group members learning about the importance of these objects which they have been made to think of as “those useless things of the past.” It was encouraging to see the young people asking questions and wondering why these cultures are disappearing. As highlighted earlier, I had conceptualized the use of these objects simply as a method of guiding discussions, but the community embraced 89  the method and infused it with intellectual sophistication. They gave it intellectual gravitas. Through discussions around these objects, they unpacked fascinating elements of Gĩkũyũ indigenous environmental thought, and knowledge systems in the areas of agriculture, social organization, kinship with the soil, and spirituality.  To ensure that we had rich data on Gĩkũyũ stories, proverbs, sayings, songs, as well as demonstrations of indigenous practices, we gave the participants some ‘homework’. We encouraged them to go do some research with other community members who may know more about these practices. When the talking circles discussed these aspects of Gĩkũyũ heritage, a considerable repository of these indigenous ways of knowing was presented. I recall one elder who brought us 20 different species of plants and explained what each of them is used for. This knowledge was corroborated by other elders in the group. Other participants brought indigenous seeds, honey, medicines, and food. This was collective production of knowledge in action. This was relational ontology, epistemology, and axiology in practice. They did not have a lot of time to do this ‘homework’ because it was given only in the previous talking circle, but nonetheless, an impressive array of indigenous knowledge was presented the next day. Each talking circle was opened and closed with a prayer.  One of the criticisms levelled against community-oriented research is that it is too problem-focused, leading community members to see their community as a place laden with problems that can only be solved with the help of outsiders. To avoid this, Chilisa (2012) recommends the use of ‘appreciative inquiry’ which enables communities to move from deficit models to positive and empowering narratives. This approach comprises four stages: discovery (discover and learn the best elements of their moments in history, exceptional accomplishments); dreaming (envisioning and imagining other possibilities. What is the potential that lies within us? Where and with whom and how can we forge beneficial partnerships amongst ourselves and outsiders?); design (strategize on how to achieve the dream); and destiny (delivery of a new image for the future) (Chilisa, 2012). These strategies were applied in guiding discussions in the talking circles.  90  3.4.2 Elder interviews   Additional data was collected from elders by way of one-on-one interviews. Elders were instrumental in the collection of historical information and IKS. They were also key in exploring what Chilisa (2012, p. 211) refers to as “philosophic sagacity.” Through this perspective of philosophic sagacity, “the theory of knowledge and questions about knowledge can be found in the wisdom and beliefs of wise elders of the communities, who have not been schooled in the formal education system” (Chilisa, 2012, p. 211). Chilisa (2012) writes that the conventional interview method is characterized by individualistic, westernized assumptions and theories that are not aligned with post-colonial indigenous views. The latter emphasize communities’ togetherness, cooperation, and connectedness. According to Viruru and Canella (1997, p. 184), the individual interview is, for instance, built on the assumption of “individual knower, focusing on the concept of the individual researcher (aware of his own limitations and capabilities as a human instrument), talking, with rare exceptions, to an individual informant.” As we shall see below, this notion did not apply to this research project.  The snowball sampling method (Babbie, 2007) was employed to select elders who were interviewed in this study. I worked with a team of Gĩkũyũ speaking research assistants, some of who came from the locations of these research site(s). They identified the initial elders through their networks, and these elders consequently suggested other elders to interview. This was instrumental in tapping the best available resources. Elder interviews were conducted at their homes. I was always accompanied by either an elder or a research assistant from the community in all the interviews. This was very important in gaining entry to the elders. There had to be someone from that community who was known and trusted by the interviewees. All interviews started off with introducing ourselves and the research project. Those who accompanied me had to introduce me, and explain how we knew each other, as well as what this research project was about. I then introduced myself again, highlighting where I come from, what this research project is about, and why I am doing it.  91  I sought their permission to record the interviews using a voice recorder, as well as a video camera. I wanted to record the interviews using video so that I could produce a documentary for the community afterwards. The video ended up being a very useful method of capturing conversations because the Agĩkũyũ speak with their hands as well. Sometimes, they do not verbalize the words but use hand gestures (especially when counting). I, therefore, constantly referred to the video footage when transcribing the audio recording. Understanding the language and the Gĩkũyũ conversational style also proved to be an asset. When a Mugĩkũyũ person speaks, they may not finish the sentences, but, if one understands the language and style, then one can understand what should come next. One can make sense of the conversation. Some elders were apprehensive about the use of having their interviews recorded and wondered if this was for sale. I stressed that this was for purely academic reasons, and not for sale. I invited them to ask as many questions as possible before we started. I also emphasized that it was completely voluntary, and that they could choose to not answer questions if they did not want to. I made it explicit that I was not an all-knowing researcher who was here to test how much they knew. I was a student at a university, but also a student of life, who was coming with an open heart and mind. I was ready to learn. And, learn we did. In some cases, other elders who may have been passing by the home of the interviewee joined in the conversation, and we ended up having a conversation with two people instead of one. When I was accompanied by an elder to other elders’ homes, the conversation always ended up being a discussion between the two, as they would bounce ideas off each other, ask each other questions, and correct each other20.   This valorized the “collective construction of knowledge” (Chilisa, 2012, p. 206). Knowledge production in Africa is not a personal affair. This African knowledge production reflects the philosophy of Ubuntu, anchored on the principle that one becomes human in the midst of others. Chilisa (2012, p. 206) further argues that a post-colonial indigenous research paradigm “offers other possible interview methods, which privilege relational ways of knowing that valorize respect for relations people have with one another and with the environment.” These interviews were not based on a rigid set                                                  20 21 elders were interviewed in this study. These interviews lasted between 1.5 to 2.5 hours.  92  of questions, but rough questions to guide the discussions on the topic of interest. My research assistants became very interested in the topics of the discussions that we were having and came up with their own questions. This enriched the conversation. I often found that the elders were incredibly generous with information. We strived to create a conversational atmosphere and, in some instances, the elders asked me questions as well. I recall one instance, where one of the elders turned to me and said: “you have been asking me questions – let me ask you a question too. We have planted trees all over; we have even planted trees under the bed! Why, then, is it not raining?” Kovach (2009) argues that open conversational methods create respect for the participants’ stories, and gives them greater control over what to share in relation to the research question(s). Since these interviews were carried out in homesteads, other family members ended up sitting around the interviewees and listening in. Some of the older children were quite keen to know what this was all about, and to ensure that their parents or grandparents were not being ‘misused.’ Once the research project goals were explained, they were satisfied, and as a son of one of the interviewees, for instance, said, “this is very important work. In the coming years, we will not have these elders to share this wisdom.” In some instances, we had to go through the older children in order to access elders. They had to screen us to ensure that we had good intentions. The Agĩkũyũ say that “Kĩrĩra ti ukũrũ/knowledge is not the prerogative of the old.” Younger elders (those in their 50s, for example) had, in some instances, more knowledge than the older ones, especially those that had been heavily Christianized. In some interviews, elders used cultural objects to illustrate points during the conversation. I interviewed an elder who pointed to a stool that was inherited from his grandfather – he was making a point about the quality of indigenous tree species. This stool was about 200 years old; this elder was 90 years old at the time of the interview. In other instances, they would pull out herbal medicines to demonstrate their knowledge, ongoing use, and production. An elder spoke fondly of his walking stick that was bequeathed to him by his father. This keeps him upright both physically and morally. His father had told him that he should always do what is right, especially, not to steal.  93  Some elders sang and danced. Others punctuated the discussion with proverbs and sayings. Some of them narrated stories with gripping drama. This is African epistemology that is contextualized in an environmental setting; knowledge that is shared. Nobody has a monopoly on knowledge. It does not belong to anyone. It belongs to everybody. It is to be produced, shared, and used collectively. I learned the proper way of thanking the participants from my Gĩkũyũ assistants. When you thank someone in Gĩkũyũ you say, ni twakena mũno, which translates into “we are very happy” (or in singular form, nidakena mũno/I am very happy). So, we ended every interview with the words “Nitwakena mũno” and we, indeed, sincerely were, because the elders opened their homes, hearts, and minds to us with incredible generosity. Nindakena! I am happy.          Figure 3.6 Elder interviews. 3.4.3 Interviews with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Interviews with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) were conducted at two KFS stations on the two sides of the forest. I interviewed the heads of the two stations who then directed me to the officers who were working on community-related aspects of forests (usually, two or three officers), as well as forest guards. I found that all the KFS officers were very jittery about having the interviews recorded and, therefore, I had to take notes. The interview questions centred on how the KFS is structured, how the Nyandarwa forest is governed, changes in this governance in light of the new Forests Act, strategies for community engagement, the interlinkages between the KFS mandate 94  and communities IKS, and future prospects with regards to forest governance. These interviews lasted for 45 minutes to 1 hour.   3.4.4 Archival research  Data was also collected from historical records from the Kenya national archives and the National Museum of Kenya. This historical documentation is critical in providing information that can enhance an understanding of landscape change, distilling information on economic and management relationships between various actors and the landscape, and providing background on historical relationships between key groups of actors in the area, such as the Kenya Forest Service and the community.   3.4.5 Joint community meeting: Metaphorical strategies   At the end of the fieldwork, we organized a joint community workshop (with the groups from the east and west) in which metaphorical strategies were used to guide discussions. According to Tsepa (2008), to appreciate the complexity of a culture, one must view the cultural information in a way that demonstrates the interrelationships of all aspects of that particular culture. Tsepa (2008) further argues that it is useful to employ metaphorical strategies in order to develop an understanding of how communities conceptualize their relationships with resources and each other. Indeed, in many African societies, the use of metaphors is a way of life and of navigating the cosmos. Maathai (2009) articulates metaphorical strategies to illustrate the need for a revival of African heritage and a general uplifting of African people from subjugation and disempowerment. Further, Maathai (2010) argues that a lack of self-knowledge that comes from Africans’ cultural deracination is one of the most troubling and long-lasting effects of colonialism. The destruction of Africans’ cultural and spiritual heritage is not an analysis that is recognized or acknowledged in efforts to understand the problems facing the continent, which in most cases take on political and economic orientations. Africans have been obscured from themselves, Maathai (2010) argues. “It is as if they have looked at themselves through another person’s mirror – whether that of a colonial administrator, a missionary, a teacher, a collaborator, or a political leader – and 95  see their own cracked reflections or distorted images, if they see themselves at all” (Maathai, 2010, p. 34). Two of the metaphors applied in this research project are the ‘the wrong bus syndrome’ and ‘re-chiseling the three-legged African stool’ (Maathai, 2010). We employed the use of the three-legged stool and the wrong bus metaphor in engaging in dialogue with the community, as well as analyzing data. Maathai (2010) has used the concept of ‘the wrong bus syndrome’ in her work with communities and with the Green Belt Movement in helping communities to identify the causes of the challenges that they face, as well as in challenging them to craft appropriate solutions. Travelling by bus is one of the most common modes of transport in Africa. Getting on the wrong bus can lead to many complications.  Maathai (2010) uses this metaphor to get communities to think critically about the causes of the challenges they face. Maathai (2010) contends that one of the reasons that we are on the wrong bus is because of a loss of culture. The antidote to this loss of culture is the concept of kwimenya. Kwimenya in Gĩkũyũ, Kujijua in Swahili – self-knowledge – provides deep psychological and spiritual clarity. Kwimenya has been compromised amongst the Agĩkũyũ people, and with disastrous consequences. Indeed, there is a Swahili21 saying, “mwacha mila ni mtumwa” which translates into “without culture, you are a slave.” Maathai (2010) believes that reclaiming cultural heritage is part of the process of getting on the right bus. This activity was led by the community members who had worked with the Green Belt Movement and had attended seminars where this metaphor was used. They drew from their own experiences as the group from the west had a hard time getting to the venue of the joint community meeting in the east. They interrogated their situations and explored ways in which they could get on the right bus. These reflections are shared in chapter 5.  The three-legged stool (Maathai, 2010) is a common feature in many African societies. Comprising a seat with three legs and chiseled out of a single block of wood, the stool represents stability, power, and harmony. According to Mathaai (2010), the first leg of the stool represents democratic space where rights, whether human,                                                  21 Swahili is a language that developed as a result of interactions between the Arab and indigenous communities off of the east coast of Africa. It is Kenya’s national language.   96  children’s, or environmental, are respected. The second leg represents sustainable and accountable management of resources both for those living today and for those in the future in a manner that is just and inclusive of those on the margins of society. The third leg stands for cultures of peace embodied in fairness, respect, compassion, forgiveness, recompense, and justice. The three legs support the seat, which represents the milieu in which development can take place. Mathaai (2010) argues that most African countries are teetering on one leg or two legs. In other cases, the stool has been completely dismantled and has no legs. In other places, the stool has been reassembled using weak plastic materials.  To achieve sustainability, Maathai (2010) contends that all the issues represented by each of the stool’s legs need to be addressed simultaneously. In essence, “it is crucial to take on the challenge of trying to imagine what the original stool could have looked like, in what ways its pillars served the people, and how those pillars might be re-envisioned for the challenges of today” (Maathai, 2010, p. 59). This joint community workshop brought together participants from the western side of the forest to the eastern side and was conducted after we had gone through the talking circles with each of the groups. Consequently, each participant had an understanding of what the topic of research was. One of the elders from the east hosted us on his homestead. The communities on both sides spearheaded the mobilization of their respective groups. Those from the west had to travel so they had to find transportation, negotiate the rates with the bus owner, get the directions, and work on timing. I must point out that these people do not live close together. Cell phones were critical in this mobilization. The host community on the eastern side had to meet and make a budget for all the food, hire a tent and chairs, purchase, cook, and serve the food. The core goal of the workshop was to explore community challenges and community-driven solutions to these challenges using the two metaphors discussed above.  Chilisa (2012) argues that research participants should participate in the analysis and interpretation of findings, and in identifying data-informed challenges and solutions to address these challenges. We used the wrong bus syndrome and the three-legged stool to discuss challenges that faced the community. Getting on the wrong bus and the 97  breakdown of the stool were all understood through the various challenges that the communities face. So, the key question was – what are the reasons for getting on the wrong bus? And what are the reasons for the breakdown of the stool? Each participant was invited to point out the key challenge(s) that they believe are manifested in their communities. We then split the group into four talking circles. The task for the talking circles was to interrogate those challenges and list those that they felt were linked to forests22, land, or the environment in general. In addition, they were asked to brainstorm some solutions to these challenges and pull out four of the solutions that they thought were key to resolving the challenges. These were then presented to the whole group, debated, and prioritized, then aligned with the three legs of the stool and the seat. That was our collective attempt at re-chiseling the stool. This research project sought to elevate the role of the community from the ‘researched’ to ‘co-researchers’, and this workshop was an opportunity to do so. I discuss the results that emerged from this workshop in chapter 5.  I was interested in making the research project as community-driven as possible and the community shared in this vision. I emphasized that we were all here to learn from each other. There was, indeed, a great deal of learning and sharing that transpired. The host elder, for instance, took the participants for a tour of his farm where he demonstrated various indigenous farming methods, tree species, pest control methods, and medicinal plants. This was an experiential research activity. It moved beyond just discussions to viewing the application of IKS in practice. It was an opportunity for intra-cultural dialogue. While the two groups are all Agĩkũyũ people, neither group had travelled outside the communities to go and visit the current territories of the other group. A majority of the community members from the west were stepping on the traditional Agĩkũyũ territory for the first time because they were born in Beberu farms in the Rift Valley and had lived there all of their lives.  They had never seen the bounty of Gĩkũyũ land. They had never seen the coveted red fertile soil that was at the heart of the struggle for wiyathi/independence.                                                  22  The groups argued that a majority of the listed challenges were related to environmental destruction. One went further and argued that all of the challenges that had been listed were related to forests, land, or the environment. 98  This was, therefore, a homecoming of sorts. It was a reconnection with the land of their ancestors. The host elder gave the visiting group some tree seedlings. They, therefore, carried Gĩkũyũ soil back home with them. They carried the connections that we had made. They urged us to do the same kind of workshop on the western side because the Gĩkũyũ life is anchored on reciprocity.               a.                                                                                       b.   Figure 3.7 From left to right: a) Community group discussion; and b) a group member making a presentation.  To conclude the workshop, we used a ball of yarn which was thrown from one person to another. Each person reflected on the day’s proceedings. Throughout this process, group members were asked to reflect on the following: what they learned; what can be improved; and what we should do. Each person held on to their section of the yarn and threw the ball to someone else. In the end, we created a web of interconnections (see Figure 3.6.). This can be interpreted as an illustration of connections – that we all depend on each other, my actions impact another person’s life, that we should support one another, that caring for the earth is caring for ourselves and all of its inhabitants. That is why the Agĩkũyũ say, Mũgogo ũmwe ndũhingaga iriũko/One trunk cannot block a river, and that, Kamũingi koyaga ndĩrĩ/if you work together you can get the mortar23.                                                  23 Used for pounding grain. 99             a.                                                                                b.  Figure 3.8 From left to right: a) Demonstration of grafting using indigenous forest plants; and b) reflecting on proceedings using a ball of yarn.  3.5 Data analysis   The data corpus in this study was analyzed consistent with the study’s theoretical and philosophical frameworks. Data sorting, organization, and pattern generation were aided by NVIVO, a computer software produced by QSR International for analyzing qualitative data. According to Kovach (2009), qualitative research entails both interpretive and analytical approaches in order to derive meaning from inquiry. Thus, “the derivation of interpretative meaning involves subjective accounting of social phenomena as a way of providing insight or to clarify an event; it involves an inductive way of knowing” (Bustamante, 2013, p. 16). All of the interviews in this study were conducted in Gĩkũyũ. The first step was translating these audio interviews into English. This was done by a Gĩkũyũ speaking research assistant. I then went through all the transcripts to ensure that they were correct and that nothing was left out. I understand Gĩkũyũ and was present at all the interviews so I understood all the arguments made by the participants. The transcripts were then imported into NVIVO, and coded. I applied descriptive coding which “assigns labels to data to summarize in a word or short phrase…the basic topic of a passage of qualitative data” (Saldana, 2013, p. 262). Through this coding method general codes were identified. This was followed by a process of going through each of these codes and trying to merge those that were related and similar. After this, different nodes/themes were identified as aligned with the research questions. Hence, themes one to nine address question 1 and 2, while themes 100  10 to 15 address question three and four (see Table 4.1). The choice of themes was informed by the frequency of mentions (see column 3 in Table 4.1). Under each of these nodes/parent nodes are child nodes. These child nodes are comprised of various other sub-themes related to the major themes/nodes. I then went through all of these child nodes and endeavored to create a concrete story with regard to the topic(s) under discussion. It is this story that makes up the major findings with respect to the various themes as aligned to the research questions. I complemented the coding process with creation of memos through which I recorded major thoughts and reflections with regard to the data and the coding process. These, too, informed analysis and interpretation of data. The themes were also aligned with the theoretical underpinnings that guide this study: dismemberment and remembering (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2009), the emphasis on Sankarist self-reliance and community mobilization discourses, and the valorization of culture as a critical ingredient in the quest for freedom as outlined in Cabralism. In addition, African ethnophilosophy (stories, proverbs, songs) was used to buttress and explain findings. Archival data also aided in the interpretation of findings, especially those related to the pre-colonial and colonial periods.   3.6 Addressing validity and reliability  Creswell (2009) writes that validity and reliability of qualitative research studies should be judged on criteria different from those used in quantitative research. Other terms have been proposed to stand for validity and reliability: credibility for internal validity; transferability for external validity; dependability for reliability; and confirmability for objectivity (Creswell, 2009, as cited in Chilisa, 2012). Chilisa (2012) further argues that there is a need to acknowledge that qualitative research embodies multiple realities, and the credibility of research is embedded in the representation of these realities by participants. To ensure credibility, Chilisa (2012) recommends these strategies: prolonged and substantial engagement to build trust; peer debriefing with peers, as well as elders of the community who are knowledgeable about the research subject; negative case analysis (cases that do not fit the appropriate categories should 101  be documented); progressive subjectivity (to ensure that the researcher keeps an open mind); and member checks (asking the research participants to verify data). Triangulation, described by Babbie (2007) as the use of different research methods to test the same findings, is another method of buttressing credibility. Babbie (2007) recommends the employment of more than one research method in the research design. Krefting (1991) proposes methodological triangulation, triangulation of data sources, triangulation of investigators, and theoretical triangulation as strategies for data triangulation. I engaged with the research participants for a period of five months and employed a mix of the above methods to ensure that the results are credible. I was fortunate enough to have elders within the talking circles as participants, as they were instrumental in clarifying or correcting some of the discussions while we conducted these talking circles. Therefore, there was a continued on-site triangulation of data. Triangulation was also employed across different participants or groups. For instance, I checked the information that I obtained from the community with KFS officials and vice versa, and checked the interview data against historical sources derived from archives24 and vice versa.  Unlike quantitative studies, a generalization of findings is not always necessary in qualitative research. In cases where generalization is desired, Chilisa (2012) recommends purposive sampling methods, such as snowball sampling and dense description of the setting, which I apply in this study. Regarding dependability, Chilisa (2012) argues that replication is neither feasible nor defensible in qualitative research as the focus here is on the uniqueness of human occurrences, although dense description and triangulation can be considered where appropriate. To address confirmability, triangulation, reflexivity, and auditing is recommended. I kept a journal throughout the study period to enhance reflexivity. Some of my journal entries feature in this dissertation.                                                     24 Written sources can also be wrong, misleading, or skewed. I became acutely aware of this point throughout the research project.  102  3.7 Significance of the study  This research contributes to ‘re-chiseling the three-legged stool’ by engaging in an exploration of IKS as manifested in the Nyandarwa landscape. In this study, re-chiselling the stool is understood as an effort to rebuild the Agĩkũyũ cultural infrastructure as exemplified by their understanding of the landscape, their interactions with it, and how IKS is manifested in their lifeways. This study further explores how IKS can contribute to the process of forging sustainable people-forest relationships and safeguarding forested landscapes, arguably one of the planet’s most threatened resources. It contributes to unpacking the principles governing Indigenous Knowledge Systems in relation to forest/land. The study will further contribute to the body of literature on IKS and forest management, specifically among the Agĩkũyũ of central Kenya. In addition, it provides the community, environmentalists, government, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders with insights on how to promote sustainable people-forest relationships through the application of IKS. It also adds to the literature on indigenous methodologies and culturally relevant research strategies and contributes to the furtherance of the idea of African renaissance and exaltation of African philosophies and ways of knowing.  As espoused in the UNESCO (1999) declaration on Science and the Science Agenda Framework, there is a need to make science more responsive and inclusive. Science should become more accountable, more communicative, more dialogical (emphasis added). Paulo Freire refers to dialogue as an epistemological relationship in which we recognize the social, and not merely the individualistic, character of the process of knowing (Freire, 2012). The science of the twenty-first century should comprehend that science is a product of culture or cultures (emphasis added), and that its diverse manifestations must be recognized and seen as a shared asset by all. In addition, science must take a stand on the issues affecting global development, such as pollution, depletion of natural resources, poverty, and the widening disparities in wellbeing (Hoppers, 2002). Chilisa (2012) argues that researchers and research should contribute to the process of healing the wounds from a long history of subjugating indigenous ways of knowing and world views, and from deficit-theorizing about 103  communities that reinforces stereotypes of hopelessness and lack of agency. This has been the driving force of this research project.   3.8 Reflection on indigenous research methods  The challenge of the intellectual is to make words become flesh, to make them breathe distinctly. Theory must always return to the earth to get recharged. For the word that breathes life is still needed to challenge the one that carries death and devastation. Works of imagination and critical theories can only weaken themselves by pulling back from that challenge. (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 2016, p. 112)  Indigenous research methods have emerged out of struggles for social justice and dissatisfaction with science and/or research. This dissatisfaction is a result of the historical role of science and research in the oppression including denying humanity of the ‘other’. This dissatisfaction is expressed by Visvanathan (2002, p. 44), who argues that the hegemony of science emerges through “cannibalising others.” According to Hoppers (2010, p. 81), the gaze of science over those that are considered “non-scientific” has become “a gaze of surveillance, not co-creation or co-determination.” That is the researched are to be seen, mapped, measured, calibrated, and controlled, but never heard. Just as the colonial enterprise saw empty lands, scientists and researchers also saw empty heads amongst the colonised. These heads were to be studied, calibrated, and filled with knowledge. Knowledge was to trickle down, just like in ‘trickle down economics’. History shows us that the trickle in this kind of economics defies gravity and trickles upwards, with the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer. The same kind of conception can be applied to knowledge.  In the same vein, Visvanathan (2002) argues that the way science is constituted prevents the entry of pain and compassion. This is amplified by the belief that science should be apolitical in order to be truly scientific. Visvanathan (2002, p. 45) further argues that science is, indeed, highly political because it “creates its own microphysics of power, its own capillaries by determining discourses, by pre-empting the way one thinks.” Tied to the idea of not entangling science with politics is the desire to keep science pure. This is powered by the foundations of western thought as articulated in Cartesian and Newtonian formulations. The separation of mind and body and 104  detachment from emotions in order to carry out value-free science are not consistent with African thought and conceptions of knowledge, which emphasize wholeness. As Ntuli (2002, p. 54) writes:  The platonic world view was further refined by Rene Descartes and Isaac Newton and these world-views had an incalculable effect on relations between human beings and nature on one hand, and Europe and the rest of the world on the other. Once the divisions began its logic would continue to fragment and split humankind into, ‘the good and the bad’, ‘the rich and the poor’, ‘the colonized and the colonizer’, and Nazism and apartheid became the climax of this logic.     Thus, science became a centrepiece of the globalization agenda. The antidote to globalization – counter-globalization – comes through in, amongst others, indigenous and Afrocentric research methods. I employed indigenous and Afrocentric research methods in this study with an aim of engaging with communities as co-creators of knowledge. Put forward by various scholars (Chilisa, 2012; Kovach, 2009; Smith, 1999; Wilson, 2008), these methods seek to right the wrongs of science and research on heavily researched societies (Indigenous peoples and Africans). Of the indigenous methods that I used, I would like to highlight the importance of appreciative inquiry. Appreciative inquiry is a method that is designed to make the ‘poor’ look at themselves with new eyes. It goes against the preoccupation with what people do not have, which entrenches powerlessness and lack of agency. This word ‘poor’ has been responsible for much of the deficit-theorizing that has characterized relationships with ‘others’. As Odora (2002, p. 5) writes, current definitions of poverty “bypass critical questions by equating frugal existence with poverty, and assuming that rural (i.e., least western-looking) is always equal to impoverishment.” Communities in this study demonstrated a grasp of deep intellectual analysis of their environment and landscapes. They analyze their positions in these landscapes and understand all the wrongs that they and others have committed towards the land. There is a very high level of consciousness about the different dynamics of environmental issues and the community’s role in these. To this end, I concur with Visvanathan (2002, p. 49), who argues that “every village is a science academy”. It was through this method of inquiry that positive practices, such as community mobilization to 105  protect the landscape, came forth in discussions. This mobilization has been discussed as a central theme of Agĩkũyũ indigenous practices throughout this thesis because it is a major finding that situates communities within the land. It is also through this method that memories about the Mau Mau war were discussed and consolidated. Memory is a very important project/undertaking in Africa. It is important because the continent has been heavily brutalized and, thus, it is easy to forget many of the positive aspects that have sustained African peoples. Engaging with IKS is a struggle against forgetting; a struggle against forgetting that has enveloped the African continent, a struggle against forgetting that has been institutionalized in the quest for development and modernity. It is a struggle in terms of memorializing the landscape and putting people back into their landscapes because conservation has also been very hostile to communities. In this study, it is also a struggle to memorialize and immortalize the quest for justice and freedom that the Mau Mau stood for. Tied to the need to memorialize historical happenings (such as the Mau Mau) is room to narrate suffering and pain. Would the above have been achieved without a deliberate application of indigenous and Afrocentric methods? I do not think the kinds of feelings and sentiments that are discussed in this thesis would have emerged had I applied the pure scientific methods of measuring, calibrating, gazing at, and mapping. Indeed, as Visvanathan (2002, p. 42) writes, “poverty can be plotted on a map, a graph; it can be considered objectively…suffering eludes these actions.”  Engagement with these kinds of research methods also created room for the community to be active participants in the research project. For instance, they often asked me questions. Researchers must be asked questions. This helps to diffuse the power relations that exist between researchers and the researched. I appreciated when an elder asked me: “Why are you doing your research here? Don’t you have forests in your home area?” I explained myself. Another one asked me: “Why are you doing this?” Researchers must encourage their participants to ask them questions, including questions about themselves because, ultimately, “Research is not some innocent or distant academic exercise, but is recognized as an activity with intent. This intent must be made overt and explicit to those whom we have turned into the rats in our scientific 106  cages” (Hoppers, 2002, p. 6). This is what true reflexivity and honest engagement are all about.  3.9 Ethical considerations  I obtained approval for this study from the University of British Columbia Behavioral Ethics Board (BREB) as indicated in the preface (certificate number H15-02401). I further obtained permission from the Kenyan National Commission for Science Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) (permit no p/15/3889/8381), which allowed me to conduct research in Kenya. I conducted meetings with the two groups involved in this study before commencing the research project. This was important in obtaining consent from the community. The following were discussed in these meetings:  1. The goals of the research project; 2. The role of research participants. Participants were informed that their participation was voluntary and that they were free to leave at any time. It was also made clear that they were free to not share any information that they did not want to; 3. We sought oral consent as opposed to written consent because this is what the participants preferred. This was recorded;  4. It was emphasized that this research was for educational purposes and that it was my intention for the research to be of use to communities. As such, we brainstormed on how to make this a possibility and this remained a theme of discussion in subsequent meetings; 5. Room was provided for participants to ask questions; and 6. The participants were assured of confidentiality with the information provided in this study.  The above list was shared during interactions with elders who were interviewed in this study. The Kenya Forest Service officers interviewed in this study declined to sign any consent forms.  107  3.10 Chapter summary  This study aimed at applying a post-colonial indigenous framework (Chilisa, 2012) and Afrocentric methodologies such as metaphorical strategies, exemplified by the use of ‘the wrong bus syndrome’ and ‘the three-legged African stool’. Application of talking circles and the use of cultural objects to lead discussions proved to be a robust strategy in unlocking IKS as embodied in these objects and the associated technologies. This emerged as an unintended consequence of the community engagement strategy. In that sense, we can clearly see the importance of working with decolonizing methodologies. The use of appreciative inquiry yielded an important element of IKS. The aspect of community mobilization to protect the forest was only put forth when participants were asked what they would consider as key achievements in their community’s history. Mau Mau heritage was also considered as a big achievement. Both community mobilization and Mau Mau heritage have been instrumental in unpacking IKS and Gĩkũyũ indigenous environmental thought. Conversations with elders opened up spaces for collective construction of knowledge and in-depth interrogation of the topics of interest to this study. We engaged in research as learning in this project. The community was seen as not just those from whom knowledge is gathered, but rather, those from whom knowledge can be shared. This happened in the talking circles as well as the joint community meeting in which experiential learning strategies, which I must add, organically evolved through community discussions. I have reflected on strategies applied in building relationships in this study. Some of these were well thought out, while others just happened to support this goal by chance. I believe that this aspect of building relationships is an important element of community-engaged research. Wilson (2008) writes that research is ceremony. It is about connections; making connections, building connections, sharing connections, and expanding connections. Wilson (2008, p. 6) further argues that “research is all about unanswered questions, but it also reveals our unquestioned answers.” This is a powerful statement. As I continually reflect on my research journey, I find that I am suspended between knowing and not knowing; suspended between answers and questions. Indigenous and Afrocentric 108  research methods provide a good base from which to explore this state of suspension. According to Wulff (2010, p. 1), the idea that ‘Research is Ceremony’:  Presents the notion of research as an idea and practice reflective of cultural values and beliefs of the researcher. Research is a cultural practice and is afforded value given its accordance with the beliefs and ideas embraced by that local culture.  I viewed this entire research project as an exercise in learning for all of us (including participants), as well as a cultural experience. I feel connected to these experiences and these landscapes on many personal levels. In the next chapters (four and five), I will share results that emerged from these engagement(s).     109  Chapter 4: Data analysis and findings: Agĩkũyũ people-forest relationships    4.1 Introduction   These ancient hills and ridges were the heart and soul of the land. They kept the tribes’ magic and rituals pure and intact. Their people rejoiced together, giving one another the blood and warmth of their laughter. Sometimes they fought. But that was amongst themselves and no outsider need ever know. To the stranger, they kept dumb, breathing none of the secrets of which they were the guardians. Kagutui ka mucii gatihakagwo ageni; The oilskin of the house is not for rubbing into the skin of strangers...these were the people whose blood and bones spoke the language of the hills. The trees listened, moaned with the wind and kept silent. Bird and beast heard and quietly listened. Only sometimes they would give a rejoinder, joyful applause or an angry roar. (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, 1965, p. 3)  Agĩkũyũ people-forest relationships are influenced by a variety of interrelated factors. I opened this chapter with the quote from Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o above because it adequately sets the scene for making sense of the data I elicited from the study’s participants and a discussion about the emergent key patterns that were pointers to the manifestations of Agĩkũyũ people-forest relationships. That is, these relationships are contextualized within and on the landscape. Analysis of data brought forth several themes, as outlined in Table 4.1. Whereas these themes are derived from the analysis, most of them started forming, conceptually, as I interacted with participants and with data in the field. The analysis process was my attempt to put everything together in order to solidify the themes that were forming.   Table 4.1 Themes defined according to research questions. Research Questions  Themes/Nodes  Sources  References/frequency of mentions  1. How have the indigenous communities around Nyandarwa Forest Reserve traditionally understood and sustained interdependencies with the forest?  1. Land 17 65 2. Mau Mau and forests 23 81 3. Naming of the 22 60 110  Research Questions  Themes/Nodes  Sources  References/frequency of mentions  2. How have these interdependencies transformed consistent with Kenya’s post-independence changes in social, economic, and political situations?  landscape 4. Sacred spaces and trees 18 59 5. Water 12 50 6. Governance (pre-colonial, colonial, independence) 22 141 7. Manifestations of colonial injustice 24 116 8. Access to non-timber forest products 29 92 9. Environmental changes over time 29 172 3. To what extent are the local, national and international efforts to promote healthy sustainable people-forest relationships are incorporating local communities’ IKS?  4. How might the incorporation of IKS inform an environmental conservation framework for sustainable people-forest relationships? 10. Gĩkũyũ cultural practices 21 114 11. Indigenous Agĩkũyũ Agriculture 10 101 12. Community mobilization to restore the landscape 24 91 13. Indigenous medicine 4 25 14. Memorialization of the landscape 10 20 15. Management 10 40   111   It is against this background that this chapter seeks to answer the following questions: 1) how have the indigenous communities around Nyandarwa Forest Reserve traditionally understood and sustained interdependencies with the forest? And, 2) how have these interdependencies transformed over time, consistent with Kenya’s post-independence (1963 to date) changes in social, economic, and political situations? The methodological strategies applied to gather data included elder interviews, community group ‘talking circles’, and archival data, from which themes were generated to answer the questions outlined above. As the following discussion will demonstrate, Agĩkũyũ life is anchored on the land, and Agĩkũyũ relationships with forests have changed over time through different political regimes in post-independence Kenya. I employed a historical approach that traces their relationships with the land, starting with the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-independence epochs. For instance, Agĩkũyũ pre-colonial relationships with the forest were encapsulated in an all-encompassing landscape approach that was supported by their socio-religious and political organization. The colonial epoch opened up the land and people to ‘civilization,’ ‘modernity,’ and ‘development.’ Colonialism caused a calamitous disruption of Agĩkũyũ society. This chapter will seek to analyze this disruption from the perspective of land. Further, it will shine a light on how the Agĩkũyũ people fought for Ithaka/land and wĩyathĩ/self-rule using the Nyandarwa forest as a launching pad, when ‘development,’ ‘modernity,’ and ‘civilization’ were thrust upon them by the colonial regime.  Much of the post-independence period can be described as a legacy of woes with regards to forest and general landscape governance, up until recent changes in the constitution in 2010, and in forest management legislation in 2016. I will demonstrate that, just like when the Mau Mau mobilized to fight colonial oppression, the Agĩkũyũ have consistently mobilized to protect their landscapes, irrespective of the livelihood challenges that they face. These tensions come through in the narrative. The shifting relationships point to the fact that the conservation community and governments are now coming full circle in terms of understanding conservation. That is, they are beginning to understand conservation within a landscape that is not emptied of human 112  presence. Thus, I begin by locating the Agĩkũyũ on and with the land because their positioning on the landscape and claim to land is consolidated in their story of origin and their social-political organization.  4.2 Agĩkũyũ story of origin   Far beyond, its tip hanging in the grey clouds was Kirinyaga. Its snow-capped    glimmered slightly, revealing the seat of Murungu [Ngai]. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (1968, p. 15)  The mountain of Kirinyaga/Mount Kenya is of great historical significance to the Agĩkũyũ people. It is believed to be the home of Ngai/God. Mount Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa. It straddles the equator and rises to 5,199 metres above sea level. It is snow-capped and topped by glaciers all year round. The Gĩkũyũ name for the mountain is Kirinyaga. The name ‘Mount Kenya’, originates from the ‘era of discovery’. Mathaai (2007) writes that explorers, Johan Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebman, who encountered the mountain in 1849, asked their guide, a member of the Kamba community, “What do you call that?” Thinking the two Germans were referring to the gourd he was carrying he replied, “It is called Kinyaa,” pronounced Kenya by the British. This is how Krapf and Rebman ‘discovered’ Mount Kenya. This became the name of the mountain and later the country. Maathai (2007, p. 5) writes, “whether they were praying, burying their dead, or performing sacrifices, the Agĩkũyũ prayed facing Mount Kenya, and when they built their houses, they made sure the doors looked towards it.” The mountain was absolutely sacrosanct. It was the source of all good things: rainfall; rivers; streams; and good weather. It was, and still remains, their anchor. The mountain is also linked to the primordial parents, Gĩkũyũ, the man, and Mũmbi, the woman. An elder (West, 10 November 201525) narrated the story of origin thusly:  Gĩkũyũ was at the top of the mountain with Ngai. Ngai told him to look at the land below them, west from Mount Kirinyaga to Nyandarwa, on to Kiambiruiru/ Ngong Hills to the south and Kia Njahi/ Oldonyo Sabuk to the southeast in Kilimambogo                                                  25 The attribution identifies the geographical location of the study participant (i.e., eastern/western Nyandarwa), and the the date when the interview was conducted. Gender has not been included to maintain anonymity.    113  Hill, and then, north to Garbatula. Gĩkũyũ looked at the panorama of the territory Ngai was giving him. It was awe-inspiring. He was overcome by the immensity of the land. Ngai then said to Gĩkũyũ, “I am giving you this land and everything on it. It is for you and your descendants to live in. Whenever you are in need, you should make a sacrifice, pray while raising your hands and facing the mountain, and I will come to your rescue.” When Gĩkũyũ came down from the mountain, he established a home at Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga, in present day Muranga, right at the centre of the territory that Ngai had given him. Gĩkũyũ was so pleased with the land; he praised Ngai all the time. However, he felt that he needed a companion. So Gĩkũyũ said to Ngai, “you said that the mountain was your home and that if I was ever in need I should pray facing the mountain. So, Ngai, I pray that you give me a helper.” Once he finished praying, he turned around and saw Mumbi, and they lived together and begot full nine26 daughters. Once these daughters were older, Gĩkũyũ prayed to Ngai to give him husbands for them. And Ngai sent along nine men who married these daughters. Agĩkũyũ clan names are derived from the names of these daughters: Wanjirũ; Wambũi; Wangari; Wanjikũ; Wangũi; Wangecĩ; Wanjerĩ; Nyambũra; Wairimũ; and Wamũyũ. Each clan is known for a special skill or quality. And that is the origin of the Agĩkũyũ people.   This story of origin sets the scene for a discussion on the Agĩkũyũ people-forest relationships through time and changing political, social, economic, and cultural dynamisms. The various tendrils emerging from the story will be used to infuse discussion in this and the following chapter.     4.3 Gĩkũyũ conception of land and forest(s) in the pre-colonial epoch (before 1895)  The forest of the heart is never cleared of all its trees. (Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o, 1980, p. 7)   Gĩkũyũ life and culture is intrinsically linked to trees. The name of primordial parent ‘Gĩkũyũ’ is derived from the Mũkũyũ tree/sycamore (Ficus sycomorus). According to the Gĩkũyũ story of origin, Ngai instructed Gĩkũyũ to go and establish his homestead under a Mũkũyũ tree situated at Mũkũrwe wa Nyagathanga, near present day Muranga town. Thus, Agĩkũyũ entry into the world can be understood through trees.                                                  26 It was against Gikũyũ customs to count people or livestock. That is why they say, “full nine”. There are, indeed, 10 clans. One of the daughters was not married, but begot children.   114  The Mũkũyũ tree remains a sacred tree par excellence in Gĩkũyũ environmental consciousness due to this important historical linkage. Gĩkũyũ life is also centred on the land. Gĩkũyũ’s wife was named Mumbi, which translates into creator or potter. Soil/land, therefore, become a critical pillar of identity and sustenance. All of these elements coalesce in Agĩkũyũ cosmology and become the vantage point from which Agĩkũyũ understand the world – that is, through the landscape and everything on it, as well as within it. Manifestations of Agĩkũyũ people-forest relationships are discussed in the following section.  4.3.1 Tears from the mountains  The land sustained the Agĩkũyũ and gave them life in diverse ways, and the most important of these being through rainfall. According to an elder (West, 11 November 2015) interviewed in this study:  To magũka maũgaga “tũrore Nyandarwa” Riu athuri aria ria mathija kabũri no matiaugaga “mbura” maugaga “maithori” Kiarira maithori mageka atia” kiarira maithori ngayũa.” Nigũo mainaga Igita rira marahoya yakorwo ni mbura marahoya “Kiarira maithori nganyua,” no mataũgaga mbura maũgaga maithori todũ maratũmira thimo.  The elders used to say, “Let us look to Nyandarwa.” When performing a sacrifice, the elders would not say, “rain”; they would say, “tears.” “When it cries, we drink its tears.” That is how they used to sing. So, if they were praying for rain they would say, “When it cries, I drink its tears”. Because they spoke using proverbs.  Rain is considered a blessing in many African societies. In addition, among the Agĩkũyũ, there is a strong belief that indigenous trees are a source of rainfall. Rain-making rituals were a very impo