Martin Kariongi, Director General of OMASI

People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.

Sir Edmund Hillary

It is with great sadness that we have to share the news that Martin Kariongi, leader of our Tanzanian partner organisation OMASI, but more particularly our friend and colleague from Terrat, passed away in the morning of 1st March 2021 from COVID-19 in Arusha.

We first met Martin in 2014 at our inaugural Smart Villages workshop in Arusha, and his work and achievements in Terrat continued to epitomised in many ways the exemplar of a smart village for us all over the rest of our research. Since 2019, we have been working with Martin and his Maasai community NGO in Terrat to research and demonstrate more technologies and business models to help make Smart Villages and rural energy access a reality.

Martin’s life’s work and passion was the whole of the “Maasai Plains” region of Tanzania and its population. Over the past 40 years he worked tirelessly to encourage development, education, and fairness – whether that meant a radio station informing the Maasai of their rights, a network of dairies to allow women to sell their only “traditional” possession of cow’s milk, building schools, drilling community boreholes, establishing community enterprises and encouraging the national authorities to do their duty and bring power, water, health and education to his beloved Maasai people. In doing so, he did indeed accomplish extraordinary things, ahead of their time. The change and impact he brought across the whole region will serve as his legacy, which we and many others will continue to try our hardest to protect.

Martin interacting with the community in Kiruru subvillage, Jan 2021

Here is one of our last photos of Martin, taken this January, of him in a characteristic situation which he both excelled at and loved – interacting with and encouraging a small local Maasai community at a village meeting under a tree. And that is how we will remember him best – ever encouraging communities and colleagues to help themselves, even as he innovated and devised ways to support them in doing so.

Please join us in keeping Martin, his family, and his Maasai community in your thoughts over the coming weeks and months, and keep joining in with Martin’s life work of trying to make the world a better and fairer place.

Rest in Peace, Martin Saning’o Kariongi Ole Sanago, our friend!

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