ABOUT ECO MANYATTA AFRICA
Enhancing Sustainable Livelihoods of the Pastoralists Communities.
To enhance the Maasai Manyatta using locally available resources and materials, powered with readily available sustainable green energy supply from solar and biogas technology and with the ability of harvesting and storing rain water. The enhancement is cautious not to interfere with the existing manyatta design and lifestyle.
♦ Environmentally friendly ♦ Community benefit ♦ Sustainability
- To come up with a modern housing design that is affordable and sustainable to the pastoralist community. That utilizes locally available material.
- To integrate a simple and portable biogas technology for cooking and heating energy with feedstock being cow dung.
- To install solar energy kits, a simple solar energy device that has a small solar panel with 3 LED bulb fittings that can light up the entire manyatta as well as charge a mobile phone.
- To install water harvesting and storage techniques for sustainable water supply.
- Use of Eco toilets that do not need water and yet are odorless.
- To implant green building skills into the local community creating opportunities for green livelihoods (jobs).
ECO MANYATTA-WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
The journey to Nkiramiram- Narok
After a long and dusty journey to Narok, I got to town at around 9am I Met my cousin Sankale, a tall elegant looking Moran.I envied his height and athletic look.He took me on one of the longest walks of my life to my Great Aunt’s Manyatta .His long strides were no match for my short footsteps so I walk-ran most of the way.
We cut through the open plains and thickets of Narok South. Suddenly , a warthog jumped out of a bush near us and we nearly died in shock, the warthog and I of course. We reached our destination at around 4pm. This was my first time to visit a traditional Maasai homestead so close up .I was truly amazed by the authenticity of the traditions and culture so rich and untouched even in the 21st Century. I was given a cup of cold traditionally smoked sour milk…after all the heat and sweating it was a welcome relief.
At night I was handed over a Maasai ‘shukas’ and hides like a sack of potatoes… very heavy potatoes indeed! Although the Manyatta was warm , my eyes watered, teared and I sneezed until I fell asleep as the smoke was quite thick and choking.A number of bed creatures made my life miserable and uncomfortable at night but could not kill my determination. I woke up early the next day and began my day as a traditional ‘Ntito’. How excited I was. I had my breakfast sour milk and Ugali and the day began. Eventually we reached the river and I nearly threw myself in… the other girls laughed at my obvious lack of a gym membership.
We fetched as much water as our Jerricans could carry.The following day I joined the group myself with the other group of girls headed in a totally different direction with a completely different mission.. to fetch firewood.The ladies had pangas as they cut dry wood and bundled it up.Every one of us had her bundle,which I was shown how to carry.
A cloth was used to join the bundle of firewood together, then firmly placed on your head so that the bundle lay on your back.That night I learned songs and the world reknown Maasai woman dance,you know the neck movement and all.I’m not sure I really got it but it was close enough.It was a fantastic 2 days experience for the bold!
A few months passed but I kept on asking myself,how can I come up with something,anything to enhance this lifestyle sustainably and pass on the message of re-afforestation and women empowerment without interfering with the culture.Then came the questions in torrents. Always began with: ‘Daaaad, ’In an almost musical tone. ‘Can you put a solar panel on a Manyatta?’ At first my dad looked at me in the most confused manner. ‘Uh I’m sure there is a way around that,’ he said almost laughing at me. ‘Dad,’ I chimed in a few days later.
He looked at me, expecting more of my unusual questions ‘Dad, can a Manyatta use biogas?’ He knew then I was up to something. I removed a scrawny piece of paper showing him what this ‘Eco- friendly’ Manyatta would have and mean to its occupants.
‘Good idea, but you need to refine it further.’
Refine it I thought .Instantly I knew who to talk to. That semester at campus I was doing rural and cultural tourism and had previously done environmental tourism. I asked my lecturer Mr.Chiawo if we could incubate the concept. After several months I sat down with my dad again and showed him the end result. He was pleased and together we started the eco Manyatta Afrika team instantly. I believe he saw the bigger positive impact the concept would have on the community, the environment and empower women and the Youth.
Thank you all for your support, inspiration and walking with me in this great journey.