News & Views

Indigenous Leaders Spotlight: Meet Ole Kaunga Mali


Photo credit: Nia Tero

“This is not only a victory for the El Molo, Turkana, Samburu, and Rendille communities that have been affected by the Lake Turkana Wind Project but one for all Kenyan communities that are facing serious threats of displacement and human rights abuses from large land-based investments.”

-Ole Kanuga Mali, Lobbyist and Champion for Indigenous rights, after land deeds for the Lake Turkana Wind Project were declared “irregular and unlawful”

Ole Kanuga Mali is one of four global Indigenous Leaders selected to participate in the first cohort of The Christensen Fund’s Indigenous Leaders Program for his proven track record of defending the rights of Indigenous Peoples locally and globally.

Ole is a Laikipia Maasai pastoralist from the northern region of Kenya. Ole’s primary focus includes protecting Indigenous land, lobbying, and advancing Indigenous rights.

Ole previously worked and consulted with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as an Indigenous peoples’ expert for its Africa Program on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. He also brought an international legal case against the British government for using Maasai and Samburu grazing lands in Kenya for military training and leaving live ordinances that maimed and killed scores of Maasai and Samburu. His other lobbying and advocacy efforts include protecting Indigenous people affected by megaprojects, such as the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project and the Isiolo Dam.

Currently, Ole serves as the founder and Director of IMPACT ​, a co-founder of Maasai Cultural Heritage, and an advisor for both Nia Tero and Conservation International. He also leads the PARAN Alliance, a movement that connects and promotes learning, agency, and voices among Indigenous People-led organizations in Kenya.

His fight to expand Indigenous movements and rights has and continues to have a significant positive impact on Indigenous communities globally.

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