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The Sound of Rights in Maa

Cultural Survival’s Indigenous Rights Radio program brings stories of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to listeners around the globe. From short public service announcements to investigative, documentarystyle podcasts, Cultural Survival’s Indigenous radio producers share content with Indigenous community radio stations to help communities become informed and organized to protect their rights.

This past January, Cultural Survival sponsored the first radio program on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) ever to hit the airwaves in Maa, the language spoken by the Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania. Mayian FM, a national Maasai radio station in Kenya with the largest base of Maasai listeners in the country, hosted an hour-long talk show on the topic of Free, Prior and Informed Consent and Indigenous land rights in Kenya. The show’s host, Emmanuel Kisemei, was joined by three experts on Maasai culture development who debated the issues on the air.

“Cultural Survival has come a long way as one big supporter of the Maasai people in Kenya, and with the radio talk show on Free, Prior and Informed Consent in the Maasai language, the Maasai will be equipped to demand adequate consultations in all development activities being undertaken on their land and territories,” commented Daniel Ole Tenaai, a listener who phoned in to the program. The program was recorded and will be shared with other Maasai radio stations around the country.

Another local listener also raved about the program: “This talk show is the perfect New Year gift for the Maasai. It has come at a time when our land is the focus of exploration for oil, gas, geothermal, conservation, and new urban development. All this is done without any due consultation of the communities. We wish this program runs on a weekly basis.’’ 

Maasai communities have been the victims of forced eviction from their lands many times in recent history to make room for safari and hunting tourism, national parks, and a World Bank-funded geothermal project. But listeners also considered how the concept of FPIC could be applied on the micro level. “This has come at the right time when Maasai women and children have been rendered landless and poor by men who sell off their land without consulting members of their families. FPIC will help inform, educate, and empower Indigenous women to stand up and be heard,” said Rahab Kenana, an Indigenous Maasai woman from Kenya.

We need your help to meet the needs of Indigenous communities who want more radio programs about Indigenous rights broadcast in their native languages. As another caller told Mayian FM, “We are asking for support in ensuring that the program on FPIC is run on Maa radio once or twice every month. The more the people hear the message on FPIC, the more they demand for consultation and adequate information on any investments that are done on their land.”

Listen to Indigenous Rights Radio programs here:

Image: The staff at Radio Mayian. Photo courtesy of Radio Mayian.

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