MEITAMEI OLOL DAPASH
Meitamei is a community leader and activist, founder of MERC, and candidate for the Kenyan Senate in 2022. Meitamei was taken to school at a young age from his home community in Narok District and has gone on to use his subsequent education to advocate for the Maasai community, to stopping the illegal appropriation of Maasai people’s traditional lands for commercial development, agriculture, mining, irresponsible tourism operations, indiscriminate clearing of forests, and other forms of development that are destructive to Maasai culture, African wildlife and the delicate habitat they share. Having graduated from Edgerton University, in 1987 at the age of 24, he founded MERC Kenya to coordinate, resource, and represent grassroots efforts of 150 Maasai organizations and community leaders. In response to a climate of political repression in Kenya, in the early 1990s Meitamei traveled to the U.S. to find international allies for the Maasai community, and established MERC US in Washington State in 1994. As the Executive Director of MERC’s international office based in Washington D.C. for several years, Meitamei represented the interests of Maasai people in the Species Survival Network, Cultural Survival, and at international forums including the CITIES convention (International Trade In Endangered Species). He has taught seminars at Harvard, consulted with the World Bank, spoken on the BBC and Voice of America, and has articles published in numerous publications including Humane Society Magazine, Cultural Survival Quarterly, and the African Wildlife Institute. Meitamei ran for Parliament as an ODM-Kenya candidate in the Narok North district of Kenya in 2007, 2013 and 2017, typically through grassroots party coalitions. He has led the fight for the return of Mau Narok, a 30,000 acre region of traditional Maasai homeland, since 2008. A Synergos fellow since 2011, Meitamei currently co-directs MERC with Mary Poole, and is director of the Dopoi Center and the Mara Guides Association sponsor. Meitamei is a PhD candidate at Prescott College in Sustainability Education and co-author of the forthcoming Decolonizing History in Maasailand.