Pastoralists in Africa
- Effect of colonisation
- Kokoland hereders
Over half of the world's pastoral population lives in Africa. Even today, more than 22 million Africans depend on some form of pastoral activity. Bedouins, Berbers, Maasai, Somali, Boran and Turkana are some of the pastoral communities of Africa.
Most of them live in the semi-arid grasslands or arid deserts. They raise cattle, camels, goats, sheep and donkeys, and they sell milk, meat, animal skin and wool. Some also earn through trade and transport. Some others combine pastoral activity with agriculture. Many others do a variety of odd jobs to supplement their earnings.
Maasai: The Maasai are cattle herders and they mainly live in east Africa. As per 2019 census, 1,189,522 Maasai live in Kenya. As per 2011 census 800,000 live in Tanzania.
Effect of Colonisation
Before the colonial rule, the Maasailand stretched over a vast area from north Kenya to the steppes of northern Tanzania. The European colonial powers began the slicing up of Africa in order to get control of the African continent during the late nineteenth century. The Maasailand was cut into half in 1885. An international boundary separated the British Kenya and German Tanganyika. During the First World War, the British took the control of Tanganyika. Due to these developments, the Maasai lost more than 60% of their pastureland from the pre-colonial period. They were now confined to an arid zone with poor pastures and uncertain rainfall.
From the late nineteenth century, the local peasant communities were encouraged by the British government to expand cultivation. While the Maasai used to dominate their agricultural neighbours before the colonial rule, the situation had changed now.
Large areas of grazing land were also turned into game reserves, e.g. the Maasai Mara and Samburu National Park in Kenya and Serengeti Park in Tanzania. The Maasai could no longer hunt nor graze their animals in these areas.
The Kokoland herders traditionally moved between Kokoland and Ovamboland in Namibia. They sold skin, meat and other items in neighbouring markets. The new system of territorial boundaries restricted their movements and stopped their activities.