40 000 Maasai told to leave homeland as hunters move in

Wed Nov 19, 2014 12:11 pm

Posted: November 19, 2014

EXTRACT FROM THE FOLLOWING THIRD PARTY SOURCE: Written by David Smith, Africa correspondent for The Guardian

Tanzania has been accused of reneging on its promise to 40 000 Maasai pastoralists by going ahead with plans to evict them and turn their ancestral land into a reserve for the royal family of Dubai to hunt big game.

Activists celebrated last year when the government said it had backed down over a proposed 1 500 sq km “wildlife corridor” bordering the Serengeti National Park that would serve a commercial hunting and safari company based in the United Arab Emirates.

Now the deal appears to be back on and the Maasai have been ordered to leave their traditional lands by the end of the year. Maasai representatives will meet the prime minister, Mizengo Pinda, in Dodoma today to express their anger. They insist the sale of the land would rob them of their heritage and directly or indirectly affect the livelihoods of 80 000 people. The area is crucial for grazing livestock on which the nomadic Maasai depend.

Unlike last year, the government is offering compensation of 1 billion shillings (£369 350), not to be paid directly but to be channelled into socio-economic development projects. The Maasai have dismissed the offer.

“I feel betrayed,” said Samwel Nangiria, co-ordinator of the local Ngonett civil society group. “One billion is very little and you cannot compare that with land. It’s inherited. Their mothers and grandmothers are buried in that land. There’s nothing you can compare with it.”

Nangiria said he believes the government never truly intended to abandon the scheme in the Loliondo district but was wary of global attention. “They had to pretend they were dropping the agenda to fool the international press.”

He said it had proved difficult to contact the Ortelo Business Corporation (OBC), a luxury safari company set up by a UAE official close to the royal family. The OBC has operated in Loliondo for more than 20 years with clients reportedly including Prince Andrew.

Activists opposing the hunting reserve have been killed by police in the past two years, according to Nangiria, who says he has received threatening calls and text messages. “For me it is dangerous on a personal level. They said: ‘We discovered you are the mastermind, you want to stop the government using the land’. Another said: ‘You have decided to shorten your life. The hands of the government are too long. Put your family ahead of the Maasai.’”

Nangiria is undeterred. “I will fight for my community. I’m more energetic than I was. The Maasai would like to ask the prime minister about the promise. What happened to the promise? Was it a one-year promise or forever? Perhaps he should put the promise in writing.”

This will be the last time the Maasai settle for talks, he added, before pursuing other methods including a court injunction. They could also be an influential voting bloc in next year’s elections.

An international campaign against the hunting reserve was led last year by the online activism site Avaaz.org, whose Stop the Serengeti Sell-off petition attracted more than 1.7 million signatures and led to coordinated email and Twitter protests.

Alex Wilks, campaign director for Avaaz, said: “The Maasai stare out from every tourism poster, but Tanzania’s government wants to kick them off their land so foreign royalty can hunt elephants there. Almost two million people around the world have backed the Maasai’s call for president Jakaya Kikwete to fulfil his promise to let them stay where they’ve always lived. Treating the Maasai as the great unwanted would be a disaster for Tanzania’s reputation.”

A spokesperson for Tanzania’s natural resources and tourism ministry said : “It’s the first I’ve heard of it. I’m currently out of the office and can’t comment properly.”

- See more at: http://africageographic.com/blog/40-000 ... yQciQ.dpuf

Re: 40 000 Maasai told to leave homeland as hunters move in

Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:55 am

Tanzania’s Masai ‘breathe sigh of relief’ after president vows never to evict them

David Smith, Africa correspondent
The Guardian, Tuesday 25 November 2014 17.33 GMT

The president of Tanzania has pledged never to evict the Masai people after an international outcry against plans to turn their ancestral land into a commercial hunting ground for Arab royalty.

Last week the Guardian revealed claims by Masai activists that the government had reintroduced plans to forcibly relocate 40,000 pastoralists to make way for a luxury hunting and safari company based in the United Arab Emirates.

But, as an online campaign gathered steam, President Jakaya Kikwete tweeted: “There has never been, nor will there ever be, any plan by the government of Tanzania to evict the Masai people from their ancestral land.”

The promise was hailed by the Avaaz global activist group after a two-year fight during which 2.3 million people signed a petition against the proposal. In the past week, according to Avaaz, 18,000 people have written to Tanzanian embassies to raise their concerns.

“This is a massive breakthrough,” said Sam Barratt, Avaaz campaign director. “For the first time in 20 years, a Tanzanian president has definitively said the Masai are safe on their land. Over 2 million people around the world have stood arm in arm with the Masai to keep foreign hunters at bay.”

Masai representatives also welcomed the announcement but struck a note of caution. Ole Kulinga, an elder and traditional leader from Loliondo, the affected district, said: “Without our land, we are nothing and this commitment from the president lets us all breathe a sigh of relief. But hunters want this land more than anything and we will only feel safe when we have permanent rights to our land in writing.”

Samwell Nangire, coordinator of the local Ngonett civil society group, noted that Kikwete had tweeted that there had never been a plan to evict the Masai and insisted this was not true. “He should have said we had the plan but we dropped the plan,” Nangire told Associated Press. “The plan was there for sure. But he said there was no plan. He should put in writing the commitment. That is what everyone is waiting for.”

Nangire has said Masai community leaders rejected an offer of 1bn Tanzanian shillings (£369,350) in compensation for the 580 square miles (1,500 sq km) area bordering the Serengeti national park. He estimated that 80,000 pastoralists, whose livestock graze on the land, would have been directly or indirectly affected.

Tanzania had previously rejected claims that it had ambitions to turn the land in Loliondo into a big game hunting reserve for the Ortelo Business Corporation (OBC), a safari company set up by a UAE official close to the royal family. Lazaro Nyalandu, the natural resources and tourism minister, said the “government has no such plans and never entertained the idea of evicting the Masai”.

But Avaaz claims the government “brutally evicted” some Masai communities to make way for a hunting concession run by the OBC in 2009. Officials also promised to shelve the plan last year, the group claims, only to reactivate it recently.

The land in question is an immense plain dotted with acacia trees and watering holes. More than 2 million animals migrate north from Serengeti into Kenya’s adjacent Masai Mara reserve every year.

Kikwete will step down as president next year after two terms in office.

Re: 40 000 Maasai told to leave homeland as hunters move in

Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:04 am

Good news! :-)

Re: 40 000 Maasai told to leave homeland as hunters move in

Fri Dec 05, 2014 5:47 pm

Richprins wrote:Good news! :-)

100% correct RP, the Masaai are amazing people and the last thing that they need is to be dictated to by politicians...

Re: 40 000 Maasai told to leave homeland as hunters move in

Fri Dec 05, 2014 6:11 pm

I don't know if one should hold one's breath, though...It's normally a tribal thing with all sorts of undertones, political and otherwise, and that rarely goes away... :-(

Re: 40 000 Maasai told to leave homeland as hunters move in

Fri Dec 05, 2014 6:23 pm

Yes RP, that is how it works in most of Africa. Let's hope that sanity prevails and that the Masaai in the rural areas are left to live where they have always lived.