Document Type





Protection of traditional knowledge and cultural expressions of a community is a thorny issue of which an all-encompassing definition is evasive.1 Societal exposure to a smorgasbord of traditional culture expressed through fashion trends into the mainstream may have inadvertently given rise to a sense of entitlement for such use. A misconception that such cultural property belongs to no individual as such, but is in the interests of those with access to it and thus free to use is unfortunate, even when the initial intention of exposing such culture was for its appreciation, safeguarding and preservation.

Certain African countries have proposed controls on the use and acknowledgement of traditional knowledge and cultural expressions.

The Maasai community is driving a rights take back of community property including textile, jewellery and image use to mitigate the rampant misuse of their cultural property. This article provides an insight into one mechanism, beyond the hinges of statute, for the protection of cultural property through a case study of the Maasai community based in Eastern Africa, and the means employed to safeguard their cultural property.


This is the accepted version of the manuscript.

Link to the published copy:

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice