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Indigenous Knowledge and Marine Conservation in Oral Poems from the Ke

OCEANIC

      HUMANITIES 

             FOR THE 

      GLOBAL  SOUTH 

18 May 2021

71-78

Jauquelyne Kosgei

18 May 2021

This paper presents a study of selected oral poems from the Digo community on the Kenyan coast, with the view of interrogating the role such poetry plays in the conservation of the ocean. Owing to the long history and popularity of poetry in the region, the worldview of communities on the Kenyan coast is carried in oral poetry, which is used to address pertinent issues in the society, like ecological violence. For this reason, the discussion of these poems is accompanied by sociological and anthropological information about the challenges that Kenyan coastal communities experience in their efforts to conserve the ocean. The poems provide a critique of human economic activities that are harmful to the marine environment, particularly those involving industries that release toxic wastes into the sea. Whereas the shore folk may not publicly condemn these economic activities, their participation in oral performance positions poetry as an act of protest. The poems also capture the intimate relationship that exists between the Digo and the sea, and in so doing reveals cultural cosmologies that call attention to the role of indigenous knowledge in the conservation of the sea.