The Last Dance - Watha Elephant CultureTraditionally hunter gatherers and seldom documented, Gareth Roriston will present on the Watha community of Galana, Kenya — their history, traditional culture, survival techniques, and current issues faced by the community as they homogenize into modern Kenyan society, at the potential expense of losing their history and cultural identity. In particular, the Watha's long history of elephant hunting as a way of life, in the face of the well-known crisis facing African Elephants today.
The Watha are now a disenfranchised people.
Long respected by neighboring tribes for their unrivaled mastery of tracking and stalking, their enormous and powerful bows are specifically designed for the largest land animal on earth — the elephant.
Overnight in 1948, their world changed with the advent of a national park on their ancestral lands. Despite their long history and tradition in the area, Watha men defaulted to the status of ‘poacher’ for subsisting as they had for generations. The presentation will include footage of the Watha demonstrating their legendary large game tracking skills, their intimate understanding and reverence for their quarry, and an overview of the educational process involved in acquiring their unique skillset.
As they are seldom documented, this history of the Watha is drawn from both academic resources and their own oral tradition. The lecture will also include a history of how Roriston came to know and work with the community, and a discussion on the process of producing a documentary on the tribe. The film is now in post-production under the working title The Last Dance.
With only a few hundred individuals left, The Last Dance may be the final documented work on the scattered tribe before their culture is lost, as they adapt into wider Kenyan society.
A discussion of their current options as both a community and as individuals will also be presented, with anecdotes from individual contemporary Watha.
Date: Monday, March 6
Time: 6:00 pm Reception, 7:00 pm Lecture
Location: Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, NY, NY, 10021
Member Ticket Price: $10
Guest Ticket Price: $25
Student Ticket Price: $5 with a valid academic ID
Reservations are allotted on a first-come, first-serve basis.