Boititap Korenyo, "The Wealth of Our Lands". A Community Mapping Photo Essay by Rudo Kemper.

María Alvarez Malvido
July 11, 2023

While maps have been historically used to reinforce colonial occupations around the world, many Indigenous Peoples have used them as tools to reclaim their ancestral lands and make visible the layers of dispossession that currently affect their relation to it. So is the case of the Ogiek of Mount Elgon in Kenya, and their community mapping process to protect their forests.

Using two forms of technology (one very new and the other very old) to validate the spatial data collected using Mapeo — a computer mouse and a stick.

Rudo Kemper, former team member and founder of Terrastories, recently published in Terralingua the The Wealth of Our Lands: Celebrating Boititap Korenyo with the Ogiek of Mount Elgon, Kenya. This is a photo essay and beautiful window to the community mapping process, and to the collaboration between Chepkitale Indigenous Peoples Development Project (CIPDP), Forest Peoples Program (FPP), and Digital Democracy through remote and in-person acommpainment in the uses and customizations of the offline-first, peer-to-peer mapping tools Mapeo and Terrastories

The Ogiek community of Chepkitale (the area that the Ogiek of Mount Elgon calls home) founded CIPDP to undertake a rights-based approach to the forest conservation process. As Rudo explains, “a crucial role of the organization is to legitimize the Ogiek’s traditional territory and stewardship practices through the creation of official community plans and community mapping.”

Newly trained Ogiek mapper using the Mapeo app to map natural resources and cultural sites.

Have a look at Dispossession of the Ancestral Lands of the Ogiek of Mount Elgon storymap, and Rudo’s photo essay to learn more about the journey of training community mappers, and how mapping has become a key community process in the defense of the Chepkitale territory, and boititap korenyo or “the wealth of our lands".

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