KAZI IPO::: Loliondo: Wamasai zaidi ya 1,000 watupilia mbali kadi za CCM!
Loliondo: Wamasai zaidi ya 1,000 watupilia mbali kadi za CCM!
- BBC watoa kwa undani habari inayoonyesha kinachoendelea huko Loliondo - Ukifika Loliondo unapokewa na kibao kilichoandikwa "Dear guest, welcome to UAE." Tanzania's Maasai battle game hunters for grazing land
By Jason Patinkin Loliondo, Tanzania | 18 April 2013
a remote corner of northern Tanzania, Boeing 747 planes land on a
private airstrip, trucks with United Arab Emirates (UAE) number plates
drive across the plains, and anyone with a cell phone receives an
unlikely text message:
"Dear guest, welcome to UAE."
For centuries, the sprawling savannah in the Arusha region of the East
African nation was home to the Maasai people, but these days it can
feel more like Dubai, one of the states that make up the UAE.
That is because this chunk of land in Arusha's Loliondo area near the
Serengeti National Park has been leased to an Emirati hunting company
called the Ortello Business Corporation (OBC).
Since 1992, OBC has flown in wealthy clients to shoot lions and
leopards, angering nomadic Maasai cattle herders who are blocked from
pastures in the hunting grounds.
Now, Tanzania's government wants to give more land to the hunters by
establishing a 1,500 sq km (579 sq mile) wildlife corridor exclusively
The plan would displace about 30,000 people and affect tens of thousands more who graze cattle there in the dry season.
The Maasai have erupted in protest, saying their livelihoods will be
destroyed. More than 90% of Loliondo's Maasai depend on rearing
livestock on seasonal grasses there.
"Without land we cannot live," said Naishirita Tenemeri, a mother of three.
Ms Tenemeri raises cows and goats in Loliondo to pay for food and her children's schooling.
The Maasai have a history of losing their land in Tanzania since the British moved them from the Serengeti in 1959.
The former coloniser guaranteed future land rights, but
post-independence governments further restricted grazing rights and the
latest proposal would remove almost 40% of Loliondo's highland prairie
and forested mountains.
Ruling party cards spurned
Earlier this month, Ms Tenemeri, wrapped in a traditional red-checked
blanket known as a shuka, joined 1,000 people, mostly women, under
thorny acacia trees at Olorien village to protest at the plans.
Some walked for days for the chance to show their anger by publicly
giving up their membership cards for Tanzania's ruling party, Chama Cha
"If I have no land then I have no place to deliver my children," said Morkelekei Gume, as she tossed her CCM card to the ground.
"My son is in secondary school because of the grass from here.
"If they need my land they can kill me."
Some of the
more than 1,000 Maasai who attended the Olorien meeting gave up their
membership books of the CCM party, which has dominated Tanzanian
politics for decades, in anger at the government's move.
women have been so outspoken because they bear the worst of the
evictions, left jobless to care for children while the men move to
cities, where many find work as security guards.
They have also led the protests since local politicians, who had said
they backed the campaign against the wildlife corridor, later refused to
resign from the party as they had promised to do.
The women's outcry spurred the deputy secretary general of the CCM to
trek all the way to Olorien, a collection of huts eight hours by
four-wheel-drive from the region's main city of Arusha.
CCM officials then denounced the planned corridor, but the ministry of
tourism, and by extension Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, stands
Mr Kikwete, who will stand down at the next election, in 2015, after two
terms in office, has tried for almost a decade to give more land to
During a 2009 drought, he sent national police to help OBC block herders
from a vital water source metres away from the company's current
The Maasai say more than half of their cattle died as a result.
Isaac Mollel, the executive directive of OBC's Tanzania branch, says
people are only blocked from water resources during the July to December
hunting season - which coincides with the dry season.
"If there is hunting going on, it is going to be dangerous if someone comes around and grazes," he said.
For John Moina, who exports cattle from Loliondo to Kenya, Mr Kikwete's message was clear.
"The government is saying OBC is better than citizens of Tanzania," he said.
But Mr Kikwete's government can earn more income in Loliondo from
tourism through OBC - which has catered for English royalty like Prince
Andrew, the Duke of York, and the UAE royal family - than livestock.
And Loliondo is ideal for developing tourism.
It is rich in game with few visitors, and borders the Serengeti, Kenya's
Maasai Mara National Park, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki defends the evictions, saying the
project will promote conservation as the Maasai are exhausting the land.
"These 1,500 sq km are a crucial breeding area for wildlife, a corridor
for the iconic great migration of wildebeest, and a critical water
catchment area," he said in a press release.
However, academics say the Maasai barely affect wildlife.
"I would question those who say that the Maasai create more of a threat
to wildlife than the hunting OBC is doing," said Benjamin Gardner of the
University of Washington, who has studied Maasai land issues for two
The Maasai rarely hunt, and use the corridor's highlands to avoid
wildebeest that give birth in the lowlands and can spread disease to
If Loliondo's 66,000 Maasai plus their livestock are hemmed into only 2,500 sq km, they may overstress land and wildlife.
"There is no big drought now," said Samwel Nangiria, who heads a group
of Maasai non-governmental organisations called NGO Network.
"But if they get the corridor it is going to affect twice as many people as 2009."
Regardless, Mr Kagasheki has vigorously defended the government's right
to appropriate the land, accusing the Maasai of living in Loliondo
illegally and blaming the unrest on foreign-funded groups.
During the breeding season, wildebeest can spread diseases to cattle
OBC too points the finger at NGOs and says it has invested in the area
over the last 20 years, digging five boreholes, building classrooms and a
"The people communicating for the Maasai are not the Maasai themselves.
They make sure that [there is] no clear understanding between the
investors and the indigenous people of Loliondo," Mr Mollel says.
In fact, he says their current five-year concession was supposed to
allow them access to the whole of the 4,000 sq km Loliondo area - so the
smaller corridor is actually a concession to the Maasai.
He also says that, in the government's eyes, the Maasai do not own the land, and it will help protect a drought-prone area.
Thirteen civil society groups from across Tanzania said in a statement
that the Maasai do have title deeds for the corridor and the government
is "going out of its ways to deliberately mislead the public".
Maasai representatives plan to take the government to court over the
corridor, but fear this may not lead to a quick resolution of the
problem as a case from 2009 remains unheard.
Mr Nangiria believes there has been deliberate administrative blocking
of their legal action as it is a constitutional case which requires
three judges, but there is only one judge in Arusha and the other judges
have yet to be sent for.
"The government should stop interfering with the judiciary," the civil society groups said in a statement.
So the women under the acacia trees may be running out of options.
"Our government is taking us from our land," said Paulina Leysa to a group of fellow protesters.
"We are crying to anyone who can help."
The BBC's Erick Nampesya in Dar es Salaam contributed to this report.