Thursday, 18 June 2015

ALIN trains Laikipia CBO on blogging to aid in knowledge sharing

By Felistar Mpanei
The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) on February 12th and 13th, 2015 trained four (4) members of Yiaku Laikipiak Trust (YLT) on blogging and basic journalism skills. The training which took place in Nanyuki, Laikipia East is set to spur knowledge sharing as YLT will now be able to document and disseminate their project activities.
The training was conducted to complement an earlier training for United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Program (SGP) grantees from Laikipia County.
The CBO was also trained on news writing, creative writing, feature writing, photography, interviewing and media law and ethics. This is one of the additional ways that is being used in aiding knowledge sharing amongst the grantees.
This is expected to not only enhance their online visibility but also help in closing knowledge gaps, improving accessibility of indigenous knowledge as well as ensuring that communities are better informed about Sustainable Land Management (SLM).
Hon. Jennifer Koinante, Executive Director, YLT and also a nominated Member of County Assembly (MCA) in Laikipia County, noted that the training will enable the organization share knowledge emanating from their work for a wider dissemination.
“I am glad that ALIN decided to train some members of Yiaku Laikipiak Trust on blogging. This is a great opportunity for us as we will now be able to share our project activities with our partners and the general public,” said Hon. Koinante.
Risper Raisan, 21, a student at Kenya Institute of Management (KIM) noted that the training has enabled her to acquire valuable knowledge in blogging which she is eager to share with her friends. She has already created her own blog called Empowering Maasai Girls.
 “I have managed to create my own blog called Empowering Maasai Girls. I will be using the blog to fight against cultural practices like Female Genital Mutilation. The training has given me a perspective on how I can enlighten my fellow girls on such practices,” said Raisan.
She has been passionate about the fight against FGM and she has been attending various seminars organized by YLT on FGM. She has already started training other girls about blogging so that they can share information about some of the challenges faced by girls from pastoral communities.
On his part, Rodgers Muchina, an avid motorsport enthusiast has already created a blog called Rmuchina Motorsport for his soon to be established business. He intends to use the online community to promote his business as well as blog about motorsport.
YLT is an organization that is primarily geared towards uplifting the welfare of Yiaku people, a forest dwelling ethnic minority of Mukogondo Forest, Laikipia North.  The CBO has been supported by UNDP GEF SGP in helping communities adapt Sustainable Land Management (SLM) as a means of securing improved livelihoods which will in turn ease pressure on Mukogondo Forest.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


Beadwork is a long founded art that dates years back among the maasai communities in Kenya. It was normally done not for commercial reasons, but as a cultural beautification practice that is endowed with diverse beadwork patterns and styles for respective groups in the community with every group(Morans, Young ladies, and Elders) with its own design. For the morans, the mothers were assigned with the duty of making sure that her son looked smart if at all he was to win the most beautiful girl in the village. 
In the above picture women groups from Laikipia county listen to the facilitator.

The Maasai tribe of Africa is well known for its traditional handmade bead jewelry. Beadwork has been an important part of Maasai culture for many years. Maasai women set aside time every day to meet and work on beaded jewelry which includes colorful necklaces, bracelets, and pendants. It is considered the duty of every Maasai woman to learn the jewelry making craft. All the tribes beadwork is made by the women but is worn by both women and men. The jewelry they create is not only beautiful but also has important cultural significance. The beadwork an individual wears will signify their age and social status. Generally individuals of high social standing will wear more colorful and intricate jewelry. Beads also serve as an important source of income for the Maasai. Tourist visiting the Maasai regions in Kenya and northern Tanzania will find many beautiful pieces for sale that make great gifts for women and for men. Often the Maasai will wear or give bead jewelry for special occasions. Below is a list of some examples of this use.
Unmarried Maasai girls often wear a large flat beaded disc that surrounds their neck when dancing. They use the movement of the disc to display their grace and flexibility.
Women will wear a very elaborate and heavy beaded necklace on their wedding day. The necklace often hangs down to the brides knees and can make it very difficult for her to walk.
The Maasai have been creating bead jewelry for a long time, well before their first contact with Europeans. Before contact with the Europeans the tribe used the natural resources around them to create their jewelry. These natural resources included clay, wood, bone, copper, and brass. In the late 19th century trade with the Europeans made glass beads available to the Africans. The Maasai started using these glass beads to make their necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry. Today glass is still the main material used by the tribe for their beads.
  Orange - Symbolizes hospitality. The association with cattle is that visitors are served cows milk from orange gourds.
  Yellow - like orange yellow also symbolizes hospitality. The animal skins on visitors beds are yellow.
  Green - symbolizes health and land. Cattle graze on the green grass of the land.
  Black - represents the people and the struggles they must endure.

There is a lot of dynamism in the world today, and much more is needed in order to match the unforgiving competition. Many people are capitalizing on the maasai intellectual property and value added maasai works are on sale on larger markets of the world and its time maasai women embraced the modern beadwork technology if they are to go commercial and earn a living from the work of their hands.

Jane Saikong a participant from the group is overwhelmed at trying a necklace from Fiji.

Yiaku Laikipiak Trust(YLT) has proposed to work with local communities especially four (4) women groups that are working with beadwork as a major economic activity on an exchange visit to Kajiado county, with a purpose of giving them real exposure in terms of knowledge and skills in modern beadwork. Under the UNDP GEF SGP, Yiaku Laikipiak Trust undertook a two (2) day exchange visit for 20 women from the county of Laikipia to Kitengela in Kajiado County, to enable them share from diverse exhibitions on the work that is being undertaken by other women and the skills they have borrowed from others on  not only how to make beads the maasai way, but also go an extra mile to encompass the desire and the likes of many within Kenya and the Diaspora. Having done much of their work amongst themselves only, has tied them to restricted pattern making that only serves the interests of very few in the locality. Today’s world calls for much in terms of creativity and innovation in order to attract a larger market for finished goods, and therefore borrowed skills and knowledge on value addition are critical in achieving this noble coarse. The pastoral woman is exhibiting excellence in other parts of the world, and therefore the main purpose of the exchange visit was to look on the available opportunities in three (3) major aspects;-
a)      Look at it from a business perspective
b)      Identifying possible linkages and networks for marketing
c)      Identify partnerships for strengthened skills development through training