Report from Lugano Erick Kyejo, Master in Indigenous Studies, University of Tromsø
Financial support for the project: “The impact of land and natural resources management liberization policies to Maasai pastoralists of Tanzania.-The case of Maasai youth migrations.”
The Centre for Sami Studies kindly supported my fieldwork for the summer of 2006 in Tanzania located in East Africa. The field work was conducted from the beginning of June to the end of August in 2006.
The background of the project is the increasing pressure on the Maasai pastoralist’s land caused by tourism and mining industry since the 1980s. One consequence has been the outward migration of Maasai youth; another has been the change from a predominant subsistence economy to a market economy for the Maasai people.
The focus of the project is on the “push” and “pull” factors behind youth urban migration, and the coping mechanisms of Maasai youth in town. As such, it is divided in two parts: one is the economic reasons for migration, and the other is the urban environment and its influence on Maasai identity management. The focus was narrowed down: the economic background and the rural change was not considered a research issue as such but seen as the structural point of departure, and the situation of the Maasai urban migrants was taken as the main area of investigation. Questions such as how they organise themselves socially in the City, how they relate to other youth with different backgrounds, and what types of occupations they enter, were considered as issues to investigate in order to get an idea of their coping mechanisms in the City and to what extent and in what ways they continue to be Maasai in a different setting.
Maasai youth have migrated mostly in all of the Tanzania’s big Cities, that is Arusha, Mwanza and Dar es Salaam. But due to time limitation the study focused on groups of Maasai youth in Dar es Salaam the commercial capital of Tanzania, located in the east of Tanzania. Then a to visit Rural Maasai area in Arusha City north east of Tanzania to get a better comprehension of the cultural background of the Maasai youth. But before the time I had planned to start my fieldwork started, I went for a visit to the city of Mwanza located in the west of Tanzania, surprisingly I noticed a lot of Maasai youth in that City, I found myself starting my field work right away in Mwanza City. Hence this added one more City as a study area.
Various methods of data collection were used in my field work in Tanzania, Material was collected in the form of individual oral histories, and participant observation and interviews with Maasai youth in the City as well as municipal officials and NGOs. Relevant Documented sources from the Tanzania National library and the University of Dar es Salaam library were also consulted. Now back to Norway I am in the process of writing my thesis and consulting relevant documented sources. I plan to have a final draft of my thesis by the end of March in 2007.
The financial support from the Centre for Sami studies aided my field work in terms of paying my field assistants. I greatly appreciate this support, and take this opportunity to thank the Sami centre.