Decorah Middle Schoolers learn a lot about different countries and cultures in Zach Fromm's social studies classes, but Thursday the subject literally came to life when Tansanian Maasai warrior Killing'ot Lembikas came to share his insights and experiences with the students firsthand.
Lembikas and his extended family live in the savanna region of east Africa, just east of Serengeti National Park where the Maasai, their livestock, and wildlife have long co-existed. Recently the Maasai have been excluded from large areas of the savanna following the creation of zones established exclusively for wildlife conservation and trophy hunting, resulting in adverse effects on the pastoralists' livelihood, culture and environment.
Both the expansion of agriculture and the establishment of conservation reserves pose a serious challenge to the 800,000 Maasai living in Kenya and Tanzania. Currently over 40 percent of Tanzania's land is protected and not accessible to the Maasai, resulting in loss of land, access to water, and grazing areas for their livestock.
Lembikas has worked with Luther students and faculty as a cultural guide and interpreter for January term programs since 2011, but this is his first visit to the US. After three weeks in Decorah speaking to students at Luther, Decorah High School, and Decorah Middle School, Lembikas will travel to Holden Village in Washington State where he will be teaching for the summer.