East African Pastoralists: Focus on Maasai and Somali

This case study of local and regional—East Africa—healing cultures in herding societies with livestock, curated by Lee Cassanelli and Kathleen Ryan, is situated in the exhibition immediately next to Living in Balance with Nature, where the contrasts between environments and modes of living are featured in relation to, sleeping sickness and malaria, two ancient and widespread diseases. Photos will emphasize the close dependence of people on livestock, the impact of indigenous knowledge of veterinary medicine on human health practices, rainfall. The medicine of pastoralists, just like their overall culture, features use of plants and techniques of hygiene, environmental conservation, and strategies of surviving in a challenging environment of shifting resources, rainfall, and neighborly relations. Milk containers from each culture and region, and samples of plants used for treatment and prevention of a wide range of diseases will be featured—e.g., remedies or prophylactics for malaria, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, diarrheal disorders, parasitic infestation, prostate problems, arthritis, and respiratory disorders in humans. The WHO’s smallpox vaccination campaign reached the last known cases in Somalia in 1977, greatly assisted by pastoralists who knew the value of vaccines in preventing the spread of serious livestock diseases such as East Coast fever and anthrax, as well as minor ailments. Traditional and modern health systems exist side-by-side.

Maasai and Somali