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Ngorongoro's conservation status is becoming increasingly linked to anti-Maasai rhetoric

Loliondo and NCA are two separate but closely related issues. The Maasai in NCA live under harsh restrictions that don’t exist in Loliondo. It’s Loliondo that’s my area of expertise.

Leaked short-term eviction plans for the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and vicious anti-Maasai hate campaigns in the media have been followed up by an anti-Maasai frenzy in the Tanzanian Parliament when discussing Ngorongoro. Posts from the 12th Feb and 6th Feb follow.


12th February, 2022: Genocidal anti-Maasai frenzy has been exhibited in parliament, almost without pushback. The plan is now to review the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Act, and to receive more lecturing from the biggest enemies of the Maasai. 

Remember that Loliondo and Ngorongoro Conservation Area are two different, but closely related issues.

Loathsome spectacle in parliament

9th February 2022 was sad day for the Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania, and this considering that this one-party parliament is the result of the shamelessly and brutally stolen elections of 2020. Following a report by the Standing Committee on Lands, Natural Resources, and Tourism several MPs went all out in genocidal incitement against the Maasai of Ngorongoro, while only three, all of them Maasai, spoke up in any way for the Maasai. Almost all were of the opinion that the Maasai and their livestock were “too many” (of course without comparing population densities with their own districts) and something had to be done. Some, like special seats MP Salome Makamba and Mtwara MP Hassan Selemani Mtenga screamed for forced evictions and seemed to want the Maasai wiped off the surface of earth as soon as possible. 

Salome Makamba described herself as a friend of elephants. She extolled Ngorongoro’s touristic value asking how many more billions it would be without the Maasai, claimed that Maasai cattle were owned by imperialists from outside Ngorongoro, and that the Maasai were illiterate, living in abject poverty, that she knew they would like to move, but were hindered by NGOs financed by the neighbouring country. 

Mtenga repeated the talk about tourism billions, population increase, and the broader interest of the nation, and he claimed that people killed by lions were secretly buried at night. He wanted the Maasai to be removed by army tanks and thought that the reason it hadn’t been done already was rich people with NGOs, and the neighbouring country making every effort to kill Ngorongoro. Far too many parliamentarians laughed and banged the tables in approval. The sight was loathful, but it should be remembered that this parliament flouts on the blood of innocent Tanzanians, like Salula Ngorisiol who was killed when NCAA rangers and police opened fire at unarmed voters who on 28th October 2020 were protesting election fraud at Oloirobi polling station.

 
Hassan Selemani Mtenga
 
Other parliamentarians who spoke strongly for defending the natural heritage against the Maasai, its custodians whose land use is the reason that it is there, was Elibariki Kingu for Singida West, and Livingstone Lusinde Kibajaji for Mtera, who raised laughter fantasising about multi-floor houses and German shepherds like that of the celebrity Wema Sepetu (the anti-Maasai “activists” love a social media clip of some domestic dogs - not German shepherds -hunting, supposedly in Ngorongoro), throwing in last-years tragedy when three children were killed by a lion in Ngoile. Further, Lusinde said that rhinos run away to Morogoro when they hear cowbells – when half of Tanzania’s rhinos are found in Ngorongoro. There’s not one single rhino in Mtera. 

The atmosphere was such that the crazier hateful lies a parliamentarian spewed out against the Maasai, the more laughter and table banging there was. The Ministry of Natural Resources has to their Instagram page uploaded clips of the most hateful MPs, in case anyone thought they are just deranged as individuals who happen to be members of parliament. 

The talk about NGOs from Kenya is new to the incitement against the Maasai of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and apparently borrowed directly from the Loliondo police state at the service of “investors” (OBC and Thomson Safaris). The rest was more or less well rehearsed, lessons from nasty and brainless anti-Maasai media, and chief conservator Manongi, who of course also will borrow from the Loliondo police state and includes catering to OBC’s wishes in his genocidal Multiple Land Use Model review proposal. 

The flaming new Ngorongoro MP Emmanuel Oleshangay, did what he could to defend his constituency, with some help from Christopher ole Sendeka for Simanjiro, and Edward Lekaita for Kiteto.  Oleshangay said that Ngorongoro can’t die when the Maasai had been living there for 60 years (those evicted from Serengeti, others have been there for nearly three centuries) without harming wildlife. He also spoke up about the malicious media campaign and explained the status of the 1,500 km2 in Loliondo, accusing RC Mongella of causing unnecessary panic. He intervened to explain that children in Ngorongoro go to school when other MPs were saying otherwise. Shangay could also have talked about how the NCAA are denying construction permits for school buildings. Maybe he did (the clip is almost three hours, and my Swahili is limited). 

Damas Ndumbaro, Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, said that it’s a big lie that his ministry is grabbing Maasai land. Like the most vulgar and ignorant anti-Maasai person, or troll, in social media, apparently denying the existence of land laws, he claimed that there isn’t any tribe that owns land, that all land belongs to the president who can take it away as she sees fit. Speaker Tulia Ackson even had to intervene to correct Ndumbaro saying that the public owns the land, and that the president holds it in trust. Allegedly, Ndumbaro is a lawyer by profession. Responding to the complaints about the anti-Maasai hate campaign in media, raised by the MP’s for Ngorongoro and Simanjiro, Ndumbaro spoke of the government’s commitment to freedom of expression! That’s something new … The campaign is indeed looking more and more state orchestrated. Since the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Act is old, and it’s three functions of conservation, tourism and development of the local Maasai no longer work together, Ndumbaro said that his ministry will review the Act, based on the recommendations by the committee and the MPs. 

PM Kassim Majaliwa talked about having met with the leadership of Arusha region and with the ministry. What remained was meeting with people in Ngorongoro, and in Loliondo where he held many meeting in 2017/2018 to “educate them” … With the aim that all MPs would have the same understanding of what’s happening in Ngorongoro a one-day seminar is to be held with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, NCAA, TAWA and TANAPA. Later, Simanjiro MP ole Sendeka asked the speaker if, to avoid one-sidedness, some Ngorongoro representatives could attend the seminar. The speaker explained that the MPs represent their constituencies and will be free to ask any questions. So, the worst enemies of the Ngorongoro Maasai will “educate” the already blood thirsty parliamentarians. Emmanuel Oleshangay who was sworn in on 1st February will need a lot of help to be prepared. (The seminar was held today, 12th February, but I don't know what Shangay said). 

An overwhelming majority of parliamentarians shouted “yes” to reviewing the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Act. 

Remember that from 31st May to 4th June 2021, NCAA held a special exhibition showing “conservation, tourism, and community development” at the parliament grounds in Dodoma, goodie bags included. Then on 30th June 35 parliamentarians were invited for domestic tourism in Ngorongoro, together with Deputy Minister Mary Masanja. On 5th July a group of soldiers for the Tanzania People’s Defence Force got the same treatment. In September 2020, the permanent secretary and other officials from the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs had their domestic tourism, which caused some disquiet in Ngorongoro. I would have thought that this would be enough to make the MPs share the same understanding of Ngorongoro, and the loathsome performance in parliament on 9th February 2022 indicates that they are quite radicalized indeed, but this is not enough for the enemies of the Maasai who were to hold a seminar as well, and it was held already today 12th February.

 

 
Tulia Ackson, then deputy speaker, and Chief Conservator Manongi in June 2021.

 

If they had the slightest interest, the MPs could listen to Ngorongoro people to get the know what’s actually happening, instead of parroting insane incitement. Innumerable statements have been issued by different groups from Ngorongoro since the genocidal MLUM review proposal was presented by Manongi in September 2019. Unlike what the MPs seemed to believe, the Maasai aren’t voiceless lion food and it’s very feasible for an MP to just go to Ngorongoro independently to listen. Maybe it would be more likely to happen if the Maasai started handing out goodie bags but in this they wouldn’t be able to compete with the NCAA anyway. In Loliondo people have been intimidated into silence for the past years, but I hope that ended when there were manifestations and a statement against the threat issued by RC Mongella on 11th January.

 Still, there is a silver lining in all this horror, and it’s that so many non-pastoralist Tanzanians in social media are voicing out their support for the Ngorongoro Maasai. Among CHADEMA opposition politicians, the support seems almost total, with one notable exception that’s the party’s former shadow minister of natural resources and tourism, Peter Msigwa. Msigwa is apparently with delight participating in the ignorant and cruel anti-Maasai rhetoric. Maybe he’s just stupid, but he also seems bitter about together with Tundu Lissu having supported the Loliondo Maasai in 2013 when Kagasheki was issuing terrible threats, and then when PM Pinda put stop to the threats, the Maasai forgot everything about the CHADEMA support. Msigwa thinks the Maasai are “playing victims”, without understanding that they are real victims and playing politics. Tundu Lissu continues as the best friend the Maasai could ever have. Issa Shivji is very supportive as well, so I think the haters can have their sports presenters imitating pigs in heat. The Maasai are supported by the brains.

 Apparently, this lecturing by the enemies of the Maasai was done already today, 12th February. Judging by what’s been uploaded by the Ministry, the anti-Maasai frenzy continued. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has uploaded clips of Hawa Mwaifunga, Special Seats, Ezre Chiweleza for Biharamulo, Timotheo Mnzava for Korogwe Rural, and Elibariki Kingu for Singida West.

 

Chiweleza at the "seminar"

 

Statements

The same days as the loathsome spectacle in parliament, some Ngorongoro youths held a press conference in Dar es Salaam denouncing the latest hate campaign in media conducted by Habib Mchange of the Jamvi la Habari and the sports presenters Maulid Kitenge and Oscar Oscar.

 

The following day, traditional leaders called 10 journalists to Karatu where they tried to explain what is happening.

 

 

Today, 12th February, several human rights organisations issued a statement.

 

 
 
Adulterated saltlicks

In the online publication the Chanzo an article by Joseph Oneshangay (not to be confused with the MP) exposed the old truth that the claims of pastoral threats to nature and wildlife in Ngorongoro, aided and abetted by the government against its own people, is no more than a hyena eating its own kids claiming to smell goats. Joseph explains the background to the past few weeks’ media rampage and exposes a saltlick scandal. 

After the government in 2017 restricted the access to several areas with natural saltlicks, salt has been provided to individual pastoralist. Since then, people have witnessed a number of cattle dying after consuming the government provided saltlicks. In December 2021 laboratory result concluded that the saltlicks do not comply with the Grazing Land and Animal Feed Resources of 2012. Calcium level were much higher than declared on the label, which suggests that the saltlicks have been adulterated with e.g., limestone. Iodine could not be detected in any of the samples. Silicon levels suggest that they may have been adulterated or contaminated with sand. Lead was traced in one sample.

Permanent Secretaries have arrived in Loliondo

As described in the posts from 15th and 27th January, Arusha RC, John Mongella visited Loliondo and on 10th January started inspecting projects funded by COVID-19 money. There was fear for what he would announce about NCA, but instead, on 11th January he reignited the long-running threat against 1,500 km2 of village land that OBC, that organises hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, want turned into a protected area. Mongella summoned village and ward leaders from villages with land in the 1,500 km2 to inform them that the government would make a painful decision for the broader interest of the nation. The leaders refused to accompany the RC for a tour of the 1,500 km2, or to sign the attendance list, which could have been used to claim that they’d agreed to something. On 13th-14th January there was a protest meeting and a statement in Oloirien. All leaders, including those who’ve been fearfully silent for years, and even the traitors who have been working for OBC and against the people, spoke up against the RC’s threat and against OBC, while the popular protest was even clearer. Then another stop order (there is already one) was applied for in the East Africa Court of Justice where four villages have an ongoing case in its final stages against the government. There was some media coverage of the protests and several international organisations issued urgent alerts and press releases in solidarity with the Loliondo Maasai.

 

 

Then nothing more except for a confused Instagram post was heard from the RC, former PM Pinda assured Loliondo representatives (in Dodoma for Shangay’s swearing in ceremony) that there isn’t any government decision, but Loliondo was mentioned repeatedly in the loathsome parliamentary spectacle on 9th February, including by PM Majaliwa who announced that he would visit. Then, on 11th February, there were reports that eight Permanent Secretaries to ministries had arrived in Loliondo, and that Majaliwa will visit on Monday 14th, or Tuesday 15th.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the MLUM review proposal

The Maasai in the 25 villages of NCA live under restrictions not found in Loliondo, are not allowed to grow crops or build modern houses, have the past years been losing access to one grazing area after the other, and as a result are suffering from high levels of child malnutrition, while throughout the years they have been shaken by rumours and threats of eviction. The current threat was announced in September 2019, when chief conservator Freddy Manongi made public the Multiple Land Use Model review report’s proposal, which is so destructive that it would lead to the end of Maasai livelihoods and culture in Ngorongoro District. This had followed a joint monitoring mission from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) that once again visited Ngorongoro and in their report repeated that they wanted the MLUM review completed to see the results and offer advice, while again complaining about the visual impact of settlements with “modern” houses, and so on. Recommendations and concerns from UNESCO had in the past repeatedly led to a worsened human rights situatioon. 

When the Maasai were evicted from Serengeti in 1959 by the colonial government, losing access to over 14,000 km2, as a compromise deal, they were guaranteed the right to continue occupying the 8,292 km² Ngorongoro Conservation Area as a multiple land-use area administered by the government, in which natural resources would be conserved primarily for their interest, but with due regard for wildlife. This promise was not kept, and tourism revenue has turned into the paramount interest. 

The MLUM review report proposes to divide Ngorongoro into four zones, with an extensive “core conservation zone” that is to be a no-go zone for livestock and herders. In NCA this includes the Ngorongoro Highland Forest, with the three craters Ngorongoro, Olmoti and Empakaai where grazing these past few years has been banned through order. This has led to losing 90% of grazing and water for Nainokanoka, Ngorongoro, Misigiyo wards, and a 100% loss of natural saltlicks for livestock in these wards. The proposal is to do the same with Oldupai Gorge, Laitoli footprints, and the Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek basins. In the rest of Ngorongoro District, the proposal is for NCAA to annex the Lake Natron basin (including areas of Longido and Monduli districts, like Selela forest and Engaruka historical site) and the 1,500 km2 in Loliondo and Sale Divisions and designate most of these areas to be no-go zones for pastoralists and livestock. These huge areas include many villages and are important grazing areas, the loss of which would have disastrous knock-on effects on lives and livelihoods elsewhere. The annexation of the Osero in Loliondo caters almost perfectly to the wishes of OBC.

 

Since it was announced in September 2019, there have been several protest statements and delegations by ward and village leaders, customary leaders, and youths. There have been promises from Kigwangalla and then Ndumbaro that the MLUM review is to be done afresh and in a “participatory” manner, but then the same genocidal threat is returned. In April 2021, 45 families accused of returning to Ngorongoro after being relocated to Jema in in 2006 were ordered to leave within 30 days. Further, more than a hundred houseowners, accused of building their houses without NCAA permits were ordered to demolish them. On the list were even government buildings, like schools and a police station. A third group of approximately 174 other families accused of being illegal immigrants were listed in the notice. After protests, the eviction notices were withdrawn until further notice. President Samia has parroted the eviction rhetoric in the most unsettling way. Then in January there was this leaked information about a plan for immediate “voluntary” relocations to Kitwai and Hamdeni, while RC Mongella renewed the land alienation threat about the 1,500 km2 in Loliondo which is another issue, but included in the MLUM review proposal, and the always present anti-Maasai media campaign was intensified. 

Nothing more was heard from the RC and the leaked plan is apparently not on schedule. 

Then, on 9th February 2022, in a loathsome anti-Maasai spectacle in parliament it was announced that there would be a review of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Act of 1975. 

They will be stopped!

 

Susanna Nordlund is a working-class person based in Sweden who since 2010 has been blogging about Loliondo (now increasingly also about NCA) and has her fingerprints thoroughly registered with Immigration so that she will not be able to enter Tanzania through any border crossing, ever again. She has never worked for any NGO or intelligence service and hasn’t earned a shilling from her Loliondo work. She can be reached at sannasus@hotmail.com

View from the Termite Mound: Anti-Maasai Genocidal Frenzy in the Tanzanian Parliament when Discussing Ngorongoro (termitemoundview.blogspot.com)


6th Feb 2022: Leaked Short-Term Eviction Plan for Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Vicious Anti-Maasai Hate Campaign in Media. 

 

It’s time to write about the leaked short-term plan for “voluntary” relocation from Ngorongoro Conservation Area. As known, the medium-term plan is for a cultural genocide, turning most of NCA and much of surrounding areas into no-go zones for people and livestock. Everyone has now got the information anyway, so there must have been more than one leak. Then there has been terrible incitement in Tanzanian media against the Ngorongoro Maasai – led by Habib Mchange of the Jamvi la Habari, and picked up by Maulid Kitenge who ran away with it like a pig in heat (I got that perfect image from a dear friend) but those people are also a distraction from the real threat. 

 

I hope I won’t have any news from Loliondo to write about other than something good about the RC backtracking, or a win in the East African Court of Justice. On 1st February, Loliondo representatives who were in Dodoma to attend the swearing in of Emmanuel Oleshangai as MP, met with former PM Mizengo Pinda who is in the highest organs of the CCM ruling party. Pinda reassured them that the government hadn’t made any decision about the 1,500 km2 and advised them about meeting people. Why did the RC, the central government’s highest representative in Arusha region then issue a land alienation threat on 11th January? I’m glad that there has been so much international solidarity, much more than at more threatening times, and the reporting has got better, even if some incorrect information still gets through. 


In December 2021 there were reports, never officially confirmed, that at a cabinet meeting a terrible decision would have been made (regarding Loliondo) that Ololosokwan village must be delisted, and the area placed under the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA). There was also a decision that the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) should be “free of the Maasai” as soon as possible. Ololosokwan did receive a demand to hand in the village certificate, which was refused. 

In early January 2022, there was a leak of written recommendations by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) to Damas Ndumbaro, Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism on how to implement President Samia’s instructions on evicting the Ngorongoro Maasai. The recommendations, according to the document submitted on New Year’s Eve, are for a short-term plan for “voluntary” relocations that the Ministry had directed the NCAA to start implementing on 1st January 2022 to finish relocating people in February and demolish their houses.

The term “voluntary” should here be understood as tortured by poverty-causing restrictions so as that there is a sense of no choice. This is far from the first time there are such plans and in 2006 there were relocations of NCA residents to Jema in Sale division. What everyone is saying now is that nobody will relocate, and if someone does it for compensation money, they will return to Ngorongoro like many of those relocated to Jema did (and they were among those who got eviction notices in April 2021). 

As mentioned in earlier blog posts, the researcher Teklehaymanot G. Weldemichel published an article in December 2021, explaining how people are made relocatable through long processes of marginalisation. “Making land grabbable: Stealthydispossessions by conservation in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania” 

Some of the wording in the leaked documents left a slight suspicion that they might have been fake, but I was assured there was a serious source, worse has been written and publicly said by Tanzanian authorities (often actually), and some of the apparently gossipy parts were publicly confirmed towards mid-January. 

In the plan the Kitwai and Handeni Game Controlled Areas are named as the areas for relocation and misleadingly described as protected areas that will be declassified. Those are old GCAs that are village land and people are already living there. If the NCAA have found any apparently “empty” areas, that’s grazing land. The NCAA requests TAWA rangers to be deployed to the areas to prevent other residents from “invading”. Does that mean evicting the current villagers? “Interestingly”, Handeni is the area most mentioned by those who out of hatred support any eviction plan, or anything bad at all, directed towards to Maasai. Their story is usually, “I went to Handeni and there were Maasai livestock invading people’s cultivated fields”. Is their hatred so blind that they’ll still support this plan? 

The NCAA write that Allan Kijazi, (then) Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, has been found to lack the right vision to oversee the implementation of the Government directives, and that repeatedly Minister Ndumbaro has been heard complaining to Kijazi for failing to effectively oversee the implementation of the Government's plan for NCA. 

In a cabinet reshuffle, little more than a week later, the president replaced Kijazi as Permanent Secretary with Francis Michael. Kijazi was also removed as head of TANAPA and replaced by William Mwakilema who was heading Serengeti National Park (SENAPA) during the illegal invasion of village land in Loliondo in 2017, an operation that SENAPA was officially tasked with implementing, and in which his rangers committed mass arson, tortured and raped people, seized and even in some cases shot cattle. Nothing indicates that Kijazi would in any way care about land rights and human rights. Maybe someone with a more personal bloodlust was wanted, or maybe Kijazi wanted to conserve Kitwai and Handeni. It’s hard to know, but there were complaints that he didn’t work hard enough for evictions from Ngorongoro and then he was removed. 

For a more effective implementation of the eviction plan, NCAA recommended the Arusha RC as the overseer, while the Ministry takes care of policy responsibilities. The NCAA wanted this to be officially approved by the time when the Ministry of Finance and Planning is advised to give permission to the NCAA to use the funds allocated for the development of projects affected by COVID-19 to fund the eviction of Ngorongoro Maasai. 

There are 400 million TShs in COVID-19 funds set aside for classrooms and a dormitory in Ngorongoro division, but they can’t be built, since NCAA won’t issue building permits. 

Then, as described in the latest two blog posts, Arusha RC, John Mongella arrived in Loliondo and on 10th January started visiting projects funded by COVID-19 money. There was fear for what he would announce about NCA, but instead, on 11th January he reignited the long-running threat against 1,500 km2 of village land that OBC, that organises hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, want turned into a protected area. Mongella summoned village and ward leaders from villages with land in the 1,500 km2 to inform them that the government would make a painful decision for the broader interest of the nation. The leaders refused to accompany the RC for a tour of the 1,500 km2, or to sign the attendance list, which could have been used to claim that they’d agreed to something. On 13th-14th January there was a protest meeting in Oloirien and a statement. All leaders, including those who’ve been fearfully silent for years, and even the traitors who have been working for OBC and against the people, spoke up against the RC’s threat and against OBC, while the popular protest was even clearer. Then another stop order (there is already one) was applied for in the East Africa Court of Justice where four villages have an ongoing case in its final stages against the government. There was some media coverage of the protests and several international organisations issued urgent alerts and press releases in solidarity with the Loliondo Maasai.

 

“We are not leaving, we are not going, go and tell Samia we are not going, finish us all here.” Sign: "Samia, remove the Arab so that we'll be safe."

Except for a confused Instagram post, nothing more has been heard from RC Mongella about Loliondo. Instead, former PM Pinda has assured Loliondo representatives that there isn’t any government decision.

Maybe because of the pushback in Loliondo, RC Mongella never made any public statements about NCA. Though there is a genocidal media campaign against the Ngorongoro Maasai.

In the leaked documents, the NCAA further warns about NGOs that will persuade the Maasai to oppose the eviction plan, naming one NGO that should be closely monitored, and action taken. Copying directly from the demented rhetoric of the Loliondo police state at the service of investors, the NGO is described as “collaborating with institutions from Kenya”.

NCAA’s request for issues to be implemented before February includes: Preparing a database, identifying and registering those applying for relocation. Valuate property for compensation and apply for permission to use social development funds for this. Establish an implementation committee and request funds for relocations. Prepare a meeting between NCAA, the Ministry, the RC, Ngorongoro District Council, and the DC. Prepare a joint meeting between the regional security committees of Arusha, Tanga and Manyara. “Cancel the status” of Kitwai and Handeni GCAs. Build ranger stations to prevent “invasion” of Kitwai and Handeni. Prepare a joint banking process.

Then in February the plan was to pay compensation, relocate “voluntary” Maasai from NCA, and demolish their houses.

Fortunately, as far as I know, this plan is not on schedule. Some people say that the NCAA has applied for funds, but I haven’t seen any evidence.

Anti-Maasai hate campaign in media

As mentioned in the previous blog post, on 26th January, there was an article in the Jamvi la Habari by one “Ibrahim Malinda” inciting against the Ngorongoro Maasai. This article was taken up by the sports reporter turned frontpage reviewer Maulid Kitenge who in an unquestioning and brainlessly screaming way repeated the claims of the Jamvi la Habari. The Darmpya online news showed a video clip made by the Jamvi la Habari and on Clouds tv deeply ignorant presenters feigned outrage, making stupid sounds, about seeing livestock and zebras together in NCA … parroting the anti-Maasai rhetoric of chief conservator Manongi and company.  

 
 

The Mwananchi newspaper published an article written by “mwandishi wetu” (staff writer), about “stakeholders decrying human activities in Ngorongoro”, in which one Habib Mchange, coordinator of the “Media Centre for Information and Resources Advocacy”, is quoted. This person is the owner of the Jamvi la Habari. A former opposition politician who switched to the ruling party and has been focusing on producing fake news and defamation. I had not been keeping up with this individual, and have not had enough time now, but just a swift search show that the Jamvi la Habari has quoted him as the coordinator, director, or chairman of several organisations that nobody has heard about. Also, a German tourist, named Paul Schenzern, is quoted complaining about livestock. Sadly, such tourists aren’t that hard to find, and if they have a problem with livestock, they can travel to the Antarctica instead, or better quit their entitled fossil fuel consuming ways, and stay at home. Though I have a slight suspicion that this particular tourist is a product of Habib Mchange’s mind. The article was reproduced elsewhere, also by “staff writer”.

Habib Mchange’s focus is on being upset by images of a pastoral Eden with livestock and wildlife grazing together, by small wild-west style commercial centres that have been in Ngorongoro since the 1950s and before, and that besides to Ngorongoro Maasai offer services to tourists, the lodges, and their staff. A picture of a two-floor house near the commercial area in Embarway is repeated again and again (built by a local man who’s married to a “mzungu” woman, which would belie the claims that tourists don’t want to see any Maasai), but huge lodges at the crater rim, or traffic jams at the crater floor, are apparently no problem at all, since Ngorongoro exists for those people and for “the broader interest of the nation”. The Maasai are not considered part of the nation.

 

 
This money is for the "broader interest of the nation".

 

Habib Mchange, having succeeded at fooling some people with his anti-Maasai hate speech, even got a logo for his latest organisation. Then he found illiteracy numbers and poverty in Ngorongoro as the next angle to use, and Maulid Kitenge – whose behaviour a friend of mine as likened to a pig in heat – was ecstatic with this latest toy. As usual, both being too rich and modern and too poor and backward is used against the Maasai.

On 5th February, Kitenge went to Ngorongoro together with sports presenter Oscar Oscar - apparently for the first time in his life - and started uploading repulsive genocide exhorting clips. Reportedly, he’s there with several members of the anti-Maasai press (if so, we will no doubt hear from them in media). Roughly, the message is, “Look, look! Cows! Forced evictions! Right now!”

 

Today, 6th February, Kitenge held a press conference as "vice chairman" of "coordinator" Habib Mchange's organisation “Media Centre for Information and Resources Advocacy”. These maliciously stupid sports presenters even have stickers and t-shirts, so it must be more "organized" than it seems. The message now was of “concern” for the destitute Maasai who are being eaten by wild animals. Can anyone guess what these first-time tourists’ recommendations for the government are? 

On 31st January, the Daily News published an article about tour operators that have named Ngorongoro chief conservator Freddy Manongi as a conservation hero. Sirili Akko, CEO of the rotten Association of Tanzanian Tour Operators (TATO), says that Manongi is an unsung hero of conservation, whose skill and demeanour have shaped more than ever the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. In between the most contrived hyperbole, the article mentions the Ngorongoro-Lengai Geopark, new “eco-friendly” access roads to the crater, modern toilets at access gates, and so on. Much the same was published by the Guardian and other papers. What’s not mentioned is that this Manongi by Ngorongoro Maasai is almost universally seen as having a personal hatred against them, and is behind the increased threats, worsened restrictions and genocidal eviction plans that have been torturing the Maasai these past years. Manongi was finally to retire in November 2021, but then President Samia renewed his appointment for two more years! Perhaps TATO is a worse threat than the stupid sports presenters.

 

 
Manongi


An anti-Maasai “journalist” whom I’ve often had to report about in this blog is OBC’s own Manyerere Jackton, an unbelievably unethical “journalist” who in well over 50 articles, mostly in the Jamhuri newspaper, has been spewing out unhinged hate rhetoric against the Maasai of Loliondo, and campaigned for taking the 1,500 km2 away from them. He has claimed that 70 percent of the Loliondo Maasai would not be Tanzanian, and published lists of hundreds of private persons that his “sources” consider to be “Kenyan”. He’s slandering of those speaking up for land rights, or those he thinks could speak up for land rights, has been vicious and insane. Besides this campaign, he’s capable of writing any lie for no particular reason at all. I’ve experienced first-hand how he likes to boast about being directly involved in arrests of innocent people, since I’ve several times got rude and triumphant one-liner emails when such a thing is about to happen, and he doesn’t hide it in the articles either. Fortunately, Manyerere Jackton has been silent about Loliondo since his supposed employer, OBC’s director Isaack Mollel, was locked up in remand prison for economic sabotage in 2019, and after a long stay released, allegedly following plea bargaining.  Though the Jamhuri has also been participating in Manongi’s hate campaign, attending his “workshops” for journalists, and on 1st February another article, obviously written by Manyerere Jackton was added. 

At Manongi's workshops journalists get much better stickers and t-shirts than those the maliciously stupid sports presenters have and then they report what the chief conservator tells them to report. 

 

While I'm happy that many have reacted against it this time, sadly, too many Tanzanians are ready to believe this hate campaign, some for personal interest, some out of ignorance, and some because a preference for siding with evil. Many believe that the Maasai have invaded some protected area, are overpopulated and destroying the environment, when it’s protected areas that are invading the home of the Maasai, probably every anti-Maasai person lives in a more densely populated area, and absolutely none of them live with more wildlife. But as said, this time is different and in social media people are reacting, particularly against Maulid Kitenge. Though I wonder how many will still support the Maasai after listening to someone equally stupid and vile, but with more training. I hope I’m just unnecessarily bitter after all these years. 

This kind of media personalities is a terrible distraction, without them this blog post would have been published earlier, but still I feel that I should have found out more of their background and followed them more closely, and I will undoubtedly be more familiar with them when I write next blog post.

Worse is that President Samia has repeated Manongi’s rhetoric in two speeches, in April and October 2021.

 

 

 

Ngorongoro people explaining and explaining

As reported in the previous blog post, many meetings have been held in Ngorongoro, including in Endulen on 17th January, where speaker after speaker with great eloquence explained that this is their land and they aren’t going anywhere, and which was filmed by ITV that, allegedly after pressure by NCAA, never broadcast anything.

On 29th January, university students from Ngorongoro met the press in Dar es Salaam to explain the situation.

Some young people have kept explaining and explaining, tirelessly, in voice-based social media apps. Sadly, the moderator has received anonymous threats. Most of them have been from Ngorongoro division and very few from Loliondo where everyone – except for the recent action against the threat voiced by RC Mongella – have adapted to the local police state and stayed silent the past years. Some say that those from Ngorongoro talk too much and should focus on strategy. 

Kasale Mwaana
 
On 3rd February, Onesmo Olengurumwa of Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition and Edward Porokwa of Pastoralists Indigenous Non-Governmental Organization's Forum clearly and patiently continued explaining.

 

Journalists detained after attending community meeting in Nainokanoka

On 3rd February, organizers had managed to bring a good number of journalists to a community rally in Nainokanoka. Already the day before there were some fears that one or more of the organizers could be in contact with, working for, RC Mongella. When the journalists were leaving to return to Karatu, they were detained by NCAA rangers and local police, released, and then detained again and searched without warrant, then interrogated, harassed and verbally insulted at Lodoare access gate to NCAA. They were finally released on condition that they see Elibariki Bajuta, until recently chief conservator Manongi’s assistant and now the head of NCAA’s protection division in Karatu. The journalists met Bajuta at midnight when he intimidated them and warned them about ever again entering NCA without accreditation from the authority.

 

 
The NCAA say that the journalists didn’t follow proper procedure, since they didn’t seek accreditation from chief conservator Manongi – the person who leads the war against the Maasai on the ground, in media, and with politicians. Though the harassed journalists did of course follow all necessary procedures, including paying NCAA’s entrance fees.

The harassed journalists are: Amina Ngahewa (Mwananchi Digital), Allan Isaack (Nipashe), Profit Mmanga (Wasafi TV), Apolo Benjamin (Daily News Digital), Janeth Mushi (Mwananchi), Julius Sagati (for Star TV).

Statements about the arrests have been issued by the somewhat unknown organisation MISA, by THRDC, and by PINGOs Forum that included a background and recommendations. 

Later RC Mongella told reporters that he had the information from media, but not formally, and that he’d follow up, since the aim of the government and orders from our leaders is that we must be close to work together for the broader interests of our nation.

NCAA Deputy Commissioner Christopher Timbuka said something like that it’s a normal thing, you can’t just come to work without a permit, and we can’t stay quiet without knowing what’s happening. 

 

 

 

The Mwananchi published reports from the meeting in Nainokanoka. In this clip Nainokanoka councillor, Edward Maura, descries NCAA’s withholding of permits for health and education projects. Special seats councillor, Moi Sikorei Meroro, speaks up about the constant eviction threats asking President Samia to intervene and come to Ngorongoro to meet people and see the truth. Lengai Moluo, talks about how Ngorongoro people who watch over increasing wildlife deserve to benefit and be treated like full citizens. Esupati Saipi, tells that women teach their children to care for the environment and asks the president not to listen to false information that the Maasai would be moving. They are staying, with more tourists, with wildlife, people, and not least with Maasai livestock. A subdivision women’s representative explains that the Maasai aren’t harming the environment and repeats that they are not leaving. Metui Oleshaudo, Olbalbal councillor, explains that the development of the local people is written in the NCA act and asks who removed that, he says that Ngorongoro is their heritage and can’t be a world heritage without them. As usual, there’s an assumption that the government and president have been misled and just must see with their own eyes.

 


 

 

Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the MLUM review proposal

The Maasai in in the 25 villages in NCA live under restrictions not found in Loliondo, are not allowed to grow crops or build modern houses, have the past years been losing access to one grazing area after the other, and as a result are suffering from high levels of child malnutrition, while throughout the years they have been shaken by rumours and threats of eviction. The current threat was announced in September 2019, when chief conservator Freddy Manongi made public the Multiple Land Use Model review report’s proposal, which is so destructive that it would lead to the end of Maasai livelihoods and culture in Ngorongoro District. This had followed a joint monitoring mission from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) that once again visited Ngorongoro and in their report repeated that they wanted the MLUM review completed to see the results and offer advice, while again complaining about the visual impact of settlements with “modern” houses, and so on. Recommendations and concerns from UNESCO had in the past repeatedly led to a worsened human rights situation. 

When the Maasai were evicted from Serengeti in 1959 by the colonial government, losing access to over 14,000 km2, as a compromise deal, they were guaranteed the right to continue occupying the 8,292 km² Ngorongoro Conservation Area as a multiple land-use area administered by the government, in which natural resources would be conserved primarily for their interest, but with due regard for wildlife. This promise was not kept, and tourism revenue has turned into the paramount interest.

The MLUM review report proposes to divide Ngorongoro into four zones, with an extensive “core conservation zone” that is to be a no-go zone for livestock and herders. In NCA this includes the Ngorongoro Highland Forest, with the three craters Ngorongoro, Olmoti and Empakaai where grazing these past few years has been banned through order. This has led to losing 90% of grazing and water for Nainokanoka, Ngorongoro, Misigiyo wards, and a 100% loss of natural saltlicks for livestock in these wards. The proposal is to do the same with Oldupai Gorge, Laitoli footprints, and the Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek basins. In the rest of Ngorongoro District, the proposal is for NCAA to annex the Lake Natron basin (including areas of Longido and Monduli districts, like Selela forest and Engaruka historical site) and the 1,500 km2 in Loliondo and Sale Divisions and designate most of these areas to be no-go zones for pastoralists and livestock. These huge areas include many villages and are important grazing areas, the loss of which would have disastrous knock-on effects on lives and livelihoods elsewhere. The annexation of the Osero in Loliondo caters almost perfectly to the wishes of OBC. 

 

 

Since it was announced in September 2019, there have been several protest statements and delegations by ward and village leaders, customary leaders, and youths. There have been promises from Kigwangalla and then Ndumbaro that the MLUM review is to be done afresh and in a “participatory” manner, but then the same genocidal threat is returned. In April 2021, 45 families accused of returning to Ngorongoro after being relocated to Jema in in 2006 were ordered to leave within 30 days. Further, more than a hundred houseowners, accused of building their houses without NCAA permits were ordered to demolish them. On the list were even government buildings, like schools and a police station. A third group of approximately 174 other families accused of being illegal immigrants were listed in the notice. After protests, the eviction notices were withdrawn until further notice. President Samia has parroted the eviction rhetoric in the most unsettling way. Then in January there was this leaked information about a plan for immediate “voluntary” relocations to Kitwai and Hamdeni, while RC Mongella renewed the land alienation threat about the 1,500 km2 in Loliondo which is another issue, but included in the MLUM review proposal, and the always present anti-Maasai media campaign was intensified.

 Nothing more has been heard from the RC and the leaked plan is apparently not on schedule.

 Ndumbaro signing 30-year leases with criminals

At the time of the previous blog post, Minister Ndumbaro was in Las Vegas meeting Donald Trump JR. and other trophy hunters at the Safari Club International’s annual convention. Now he’s been in other, not so nice, company. 

On 4th February the Ministry and TAWA announced in social media that four companies had been granted Special Wildlife Investment Concession Areas (SWICA) on 30-year (!) leases. The companies are Green Mile Safari Ltd, Mwiba Holdings (Friedkin group), Mkwawa Hunting Safaris, and Grumeti Reserves Ltd.

 
I’ve written about Green Mile before when they were brought back by Ndumbaro after having had their license revoked by Kigwangalla. This company became internationally infamous after a video of horrible hunting abuse, uploaded by a client, probably thanks to Green Mile’s business rival (part of the Friedkin group) became internationally viral and was shown in the Tanzanian parliament in 2014. Since then, ministers have been taking turns either chasing away or bringing back Green Mile. Ndumbaro brought Green Mile back to Lake Natron GCA against protests by local villagers that claimed that the company owed them money and was responsible for turning a blind eye to, or being directly involved in, the poaching of 36 giraffes.

Mwiba Holdings (part of the Friedkin group) are even worse. In 2011, Mwiba Holdings together with regional and district authorities brutally evicted Hadza hunter-gatherers, Datoga pastoralists and Sukuma agro-pastoralists from Makao Wildlife Management Area in Meatu district. They have been suspected of unethical and criminal activities later as well, and I’d be grateful for an update. 

Mkwawa is a local company that I don’t know much about. Grumeti Reserves aren’t that pretty either, but I need to update myself on their current activities (help appreciated). 

New MP

On 1st February Emmanuel Oleshangai was sworn in as new member of parliament for Ngorongoro. He knows what he must do, and I hope that everyone will assist him. This blog will not make the mistake of being as patient as with his predecessor (continue resting in peace).

 

Enough is enough! It’s starting to look like it’s time to reclaim Serengeti! 

Susanna Nordlund is a working-class person based in Sweden who since 2010 has been blogging about Loliondo (now increasingly also about NCA) and has her fingerprints thoroughly registered with Immigration so that she will not be able to enter Tanzania through any border crossing, ever again. She has never worked for any NGO or intelligence service and hasn’t earned a shilling from her Loliondo work. She can be reached at sannasus@hotmail.com

View from the Termite Mound: Leaked Short-Term Eviction Plan for Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Vicious Anti-Maasai Hate Campaign in Media (termitemoundview.blogspot.com)