Maasai warrior breaking the boundaries

By Jeanne Viall Time of article published Sep 15, 2006

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Exploring the borders, both real and self-imposed, that keep us apart and restrict individual freedom is the idea behind an interesting event organised by Maasai warrior Miyere Miyandazi.

Called No Borders, it includes performance art, photographic exhibitions, drumming by Guinean drum master Atsu Dagadu, a Maasai craft market, films and interactive games.

Miyandazi has been in South Africa for about 18 months now after walking from Kenya to Cape Town to create awareness of minority people, not only in his home country but throughout the world.

The exhibition will be at the Cape Town Medi-Spa this weekend and, says Miyandazi, is an effort to express the value of the basic elements of life, air, water, earth and fire, which themselves are "unbordered".

Denial of land was at the heart of Miyandazi's decision to walk to South Africa. He explains that in 1904 the English signed a 100-year land lease treaty with the Maasai in Kenya. "Which Maasai could read in 1904?" he asks. "But Maasai are patient people, and in 2004 the 100 years were over. It was a simple thing, our land would be given back."

That didn't happen and, in spite of protests and appeals to the Kenyan government, they refused to return it to the Maasai.

"Governments are not for the people," says Miyandazi. "They curtail freedom. What really hurts is to know that it was my people, not a colonial government, who did this, fighting their own people.

"Then I thought, let me walk and create an awareness in the world of minority rights. I trusted other people would also feel for such a thing, would have the same problems."

Hence his journey as a social justice activist, which has taken him through many parts of Africa to end up in Cape Town, which he intends using as a base for his mission.

This exhibition is an endeavour to dismantle the boundaries that restrict individual freedom, healing and heritage.

"I want to engage people's minds to see what is good and what is bad about borders. If we want to solve problems we have to see why borders are there.

"Aids knows no borders, it's beyond borders. Crime is beyond borders, and if you pollute in one part of the world it doesn't stay there. We're not living in different worlds, it's one world," he says.

"We all have responsibilities on the earth, it's not my world or your world but our world, our earth - and we're all on a journey."

We have lost ourselves, he believes, and often we live someone else's journey.

"It's happening in Africa, we forget ourselves. Did we fight for freedom so we could follow the Western route? That's their route, it's their culture. But we are in a different place."

Artificial borders are put in place by human beings. These borders are more than just the distinctions we make between countries, but those we increasingly put up to keep others out.

"So many problems come from these borders," says Miyandazi. "Fencing be-comes walls becomes bigger walls. You don't know your neighbour, he doesn't know you. I don't see you, you don't see me. We become confined to boxes, smaller and smaller boxes. With our cellphones and computers we close ourselves up. What kind of a life is that?"

Without interaction we lose life, we lose connection, we lose touch with basic values, he says.

Miyandazi will be doing a performance at the event to call humankind to re-waken and free themselves from their "cultural and ethnic prisons".

Can we change? "I'm always full of hope," he says.

What is your response to borders? Come and explore. No Borders takes place tomorrow and Sunday, 9am to 6pm, at the Cape Town Medi-Spa, 99 Kloof Street. Donation R40 or T40 through the Talent Exchange.

For more information call 021 426 1156 or visit www.

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