Africa members honour indigenous peoples day

Paul Kiprono
Paul Kiprono, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Officer, ILC Africa
Monday, September 3, 2018

On 9th August, ILC members celebrated the 2018 indigenous people’s day, whose theme focused the causes of indigenous migration.  

Estimates suggest 50 million indigenous peoples live in Africa, mainly in East, West, and Central Africa. Though plagued with numerous challenges, indigenous peoples across the African continent remain resilient and make large contributions to preserve our lands, biodiversity and natural resources.

With mounting pressures from land activists, African governments have committed to recognising indigenous groups and protecting their rights. But efforts to implement agreed changes remain invisible.

That is why ILC Africa members made it a tradition to remind continental leaders about indigenous rights on this day. This year, ILC members’ solidarity contributions to indigenous people’s day are demands for better protection echoed in Central and East Africa.

Workshops held by the Centre for Environment and Development (CED) and the Mbororo Social and Cultural Association(MBOSCUDA) in Cameroon demonstrated indigenous contributions to land governance and how leaving them out could be dangerous for land management. One held by CED in Yaoundé reminded public authorities why it is crucial to include indigenous groups in the country’s land reform process. While, another, in northern Cameroon discussed the inclusion of indigenous peoples in the public service.

The mood was not any different in DRC. ILC member, the Integrated Program for the Development of the Pygmy People (PIDP) offered a platform for indigenous groups to share indigenous knowledge in Goma. It organised an indigenous dialogue forum where, dozens of Pygmies from the Congo forest shared legal strategies to protect their land rights.

In East Africa, activities happened in Kenya and Tanzania targeting two indigenous groups. In Tanzania, the Tanzania land Alliance (TALA) collaborated with the Rangelands Working Group to deepen knowledge of Maasai communities on land redistribution and food justice.  The Ogiek Peoples' Development Program (OPDP) reflected on how to take the landmark victory of the Indigenous Ogiek Peoples to the next level.

From the look of things, it is clear we have a lot of hard work to do to close the existing gaps. Integrating indigenous concerns in land governance is not yet a reality for many African countries. This day should serve as a reminder to all of us; that indigenous peoples have human rights like everyone and deserve to be valued.