• 03 June 2021
  • 13:00-13:45

Perspectives on Pastoralism Film Festival: Speaking truth to power: pastoralists’ advocacy

The Perspectives on Pastoralism Film Festival seeks to deepen understanding of how diverse peoples gain their livelihoods from extensive livestock production.

The relationships of pastoralist people and animals and their food production systems reflect an intimate intertwining of culture, economy and ecology in harsh environments such as Africa’s drylands. In such environments, mobility of animals plays a key role.

Films of multiple genres – spanning documentary, narrative and experimental – made by pastoralists and/or about pastoralists offer different insights into issues important to pastoralists.

This third session confronts political and economic injustices with the theme, ‘Speaking truth to power: pastoralists’ advocacy’. Nick Lunch, from Insight Share in the UK will share a few words about participatory video and the making of Olosho. After a short animation film introducing pastoralism (CELEP, 2021), there is a short film featuring Shoba Liban, Program Manager of the Pastoralist Women Health and Education non-profit organization based in Isiolo, Kenya (CELEP, 2019).

Land grabbing in pastoralist areas is unmasked through two films in this session. Olosho (2015) is a participatory video (PV) made by 6 community members in Loliondo from 5 Maasai clans in northern Tanzania, created with facilitation from InsightShare. In 1992, a hunting company from the United Arab Emirates occupied 1500 km2 of village land in Loliondo to set up a private game reserve beside the Serengeti National Park. Since then, Maasai have been denied access to vital pasture and waterpoints for their herds. The people suffered mass eviction from their villages within the disputed land. The PV training strengthened the Maasai’s self-advocacy to resist land-grabbing by foreign investors.

The last film in this session is an advocacy film, Lower Omo: local tribes under threat (2012). The filmmaker chooses to remain anonymous out of safety concerns. The think-tank, Oakland Institute, shares this film to reveal the situation of agropastoralists in the Lower Omo Valley in Southern Ethiopia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to about 200,000 people from several ethnic groups, e.g. the Bode, Dassenach, Hamer, Karo, Kwegu, Mursi, Nyangatom and Suri. Most of them raise livestock where the annual flooding of the Omo River replenishes grazing areas and practise flood-retreat cropping on the riverbanks. Their cattle are a source of food, wealth and pride, and are intimately tied to their cultural identity. The lives and culture of these peoples are threatened by the construction of the Gibe III dam.

The themes presented will be elaborated further by Dr. Christina (Echi) Gabbert from the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology at Göttingen University, Germany, who can also answer questions from the audience. She has collaborated in southern Ethiopia with pastoralists over the last twenty years. Among her many publications, she is one of the editors of the book, Lands of the Future: Anthropological Perspectives on Pastoralism, Land Deals and Tropes of Modernity.

A second edition of the Perspectives on Pastoralism Film Festival will be launched in 2022. And you can be part of it! New films may now be submitted using the link below: