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Press Conference by Ngorongoro Representatives to Respond to the Imposter Lekisongo,

There was a Press Conference by Ngorongoro Representatives to Respond to the Imposter Lekisongo, It’s Over a Year Since the Election Murder that Killed Salula Ngorisiolo, and the DED Works Hard for the Loliondo Police State

The press conference protesting the behaviour of the imposter Lekisongo is old news, maybe a diversion, and I haven’t been able to get much of a background on this individual, or much information what he’s done after being told off. I should have published on 28th October about last year’s election murder, but keep getting delayed and am un-focused. Then there were worries that NCAA were trying to influence the by-election, but now there is a candidate who is a lesser evil (I hope …) and will become MP, since a real by-election won’t be held anyway. When I finally was about to publish this blog post, more worrying information reached me that the new DED (not that the old one was any better …) isn’t lazy at all in his contribution to the Loliondo police state at the service of unethical “investors”, this time the horrible Thomson Safaris.


On 20th October 2021, some customary leaders and other representatives from Ngorongoro held a press conference in Arusha to denounce an imposter called Isaack Lekisongo Meijo who at President Samia’s meeting with the public at Sheikh Amri Abeid Memorial Stadium on the 17th was presented as the leader of the Tanzanian Maasai. This individual and the president’s terrible speech were described in the latest blog post. Lekisongo had, screaming and swatting with a flywhisk - for some still unknown reason - supported the idea of evictions from Ngorongoro Conservation Area, saying that it isn’t true that the Maasai don’t have anywhere else to go, that there are people seeking conflict through NGOs, that Ngorongoro is a wonder, that people must look into how they can “reduce themselves” and that it’s necessary to speak to customary leaders to solve the issue, implying that he would be one of those. This was followed by the president saying that Ngorongoro is important when talking about tourism and Arusha, that “we” can’t continue considering people’s interests while destroying it, that there are places to relocate people, and requesting customary leaders to resolve the stalemate (as if they had a mandate to trade away community land).

 The press statement by Ngorongoro representatives said that the customary leaders (laigwanak), and the Ngorongoro community at large, were shocked and saddened by Lekisongo’s statement that misled the president. (I’d say that she was already misled long ago and apparently like it …)  The laigwanak don’t recognise Lekisongo as their leader and don’t even know who he is. They explained that the Maasai don’t have any chief or one leader who can speak on behalf of everybody. They further explained that Lekisongo isn’t from Ngorongoro (he’s from Monduli) and that laigwanak from Ngorongoro had been present at the president’s meeting without being given an opportunity to speak. Then Lekisongo had repeated the old tiresome propaganda against the Ngorongoro Maasai that live on their land according to national and international law, and that have more tourists and black rhinos than any other protected area in Tanzania. The laigwanak explained that Lekisongo ignored history and the fact that the Maasai lost more than 14,000 km2 of their land to the Serengeti National Park in 1958, and were left with 8,292 km2. They reminded of that upon the establishment of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Maasai were promised by the colonial government that if they on one side, and tourism and wildlife on the other, could no longer live together, the Maasai would always be given priority. 

The Ngorongoro representatives demanded that:

1. Isaack Lekisongo Meijo should immediately stop faking authority that has no place in Maasai traditions, customs and culture.

2. Isaack Lekisongo Meijo should immediately withdraw his statement against pastoralists living in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and apologize publicly for his misconduct in front of the President of Tanzania, otherwise severe legal action will be taken against him.

3. The Government of the United Republic of Tanzania should immediately cease to recognize this person (Lekisongo) and if it deems it necessary to involve customary leaders, it should do so by involving those in such position and not Lekisongo who is not a representative of the Ngorongoro laigwanak or of the Maasai.

4. The government should not be involved in the fabrications and misappropriation of position of so-called leader of the laigwanak in Tanzania Mr. Isaack Lekisongo. Because by doing so it is interfering with the processes and well-being of the cultural traditions of the Maasai communities.

5. The Government should take urgent action by involving Ngorongoro pastoralists to address the various problems facing the people living within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, including: hunger caused by various restrictions imposed by the NCAA, grazing restrictions, poor access to water, prohibition of subsistence farming, and unemployment.

6. The Government should establish an independent and inclusive process to review the law and the management plan of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area as well as various systems that affect the people of Ngorongoro and are aimed at managing the area.

7. The President should set up a judicial commission to investigate the atrocities committed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism in collaboration with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority for more than six decades, including mass violence. 

Media coverage of this press conference was somewhat better than usual and laigwanan Metui ole Shaudo was seen asking where Tanzanians will be sent the day Tanzania is “full” the way that some people keep saying that Ngorongoro is full (which some people from much more populated areas, with less wildlife - which describes basically any other area - enjoy saying). 

The imposter

 The real deal

 The comedian, and actually tour guide, Saimon Sirikwa uploaded a surprisingly brilliant and very pedagogic video repeating the president’s terrible words about Ngorongoro, but substituting “Ngorongoro” for “Zanzibar”. In 2017 Saimon was arrested for a video that wasn’t even half as funny.

 The not-so-genius

 The genius

 

Then I was told that in the evening of 22nd October, 12 elders from Ngorongoro met the Arusha regional commissioner. The RC promised to work with them to resolve the matter amicably (we’ve heard that before …) However, he warned them to not work with the press. 

Prior to meeting the RC, the 12 elders met with Lekisongo who was accompanied by a team of 12 aides. The imposter apologized saying it won't happen again. Still, nobody seems to have found out why he did it. 

However, later I’ve received reports that Lekisongo more or less keeps insisting on his statement at the meeting with the president, and claiming that the Ngorongoro elders would have apologized to him, and not the other way around. 

How could this Lekisongo intervene in such a destructive way? Most people seem convinced that he’s being misled and used by the NCAA. It’s of course also possible that it was his own evil, opportunistic idea to impress the president. Sadly, even someone from Ngorongoro could have been used in this way, probably not speaking in favour of evictions, but certainly praising the aggressors, while pretending to be ignorant about the threat. “Befriending” such people seem to be a behaviour shared by everyone who’s after pastoralist land in East Africa, or maybe of all abusers of minority groups, all-over the world and since the dawn of time. It’s irresistibly comfortable for lazy, uncaring (or worse) outsiders to be able to claim that the issue is too complicated and that the victims themselves differ about if they want their lives and livelihoods crushed into oblivion, or not*. 

The Loliondo police state has brought multiple cases of bought traitors and wannabe corruptees that have been mentioned in this blog through the years. Not only do basically every government official, and particularly the security committee and DC, openly, shamelessly, and with astonishing lawlessness work for the investors OBC - that keep lobbying to have their core hunting area turned into a ”protected area” (this is part of the current genocidal proposal) - and Thomson Safaris  - that claim 12,617 acres of Maasai grazing land as their own private nature refuge. For years, and until almost everyone was silenced, local authorities have habitually summoned anyone suspected of being able to criticize these two “investors” to be interrogated by the Ngorongoro Security Committee, and these people are threatened, defamed, even in national press and not least was this done by the “journalist” Manyerere Jackton, they have had their citizenship questioned and been illegally arrested and, in some case, tortured. Some local traitors happily participate in this police state, not directly agreeing with the land alienation (except in one case where mental health is an issue), but praising the investors – that very actively “befriend” suitable individuals – and complaining about NGOs that don’t want them to work with such wonderful investors, at the same time as others are, or were, taking considerable risks to defend their land. 

Since Lekisongo isn’t from Ngorongoro, maybe he isn’t a traitor in the same way, but he’s indeed supposed to send the same message. Though we also have the “wannabe corruptees” who aren’t always pastoralists, but who will go out of their way to present themselves as Loliondo representatives, heaping praise on the “investors” and running to the DC to report anyone who could speak up. Currently the situation – after the whole of Tanzania has turned into a police state - has deteriorated to the extent that at least three ward councillors are OBC employees. 

I have been told that it’s a waste of time to write about such a useless individual as this Lekisongo, and that he won’t have any further impact. Though I just don’t know, can’t get any updates, and want to laud the excellent initiative of setting the record straight in a press conference, even if Lekisongo is an easy target compared to others (the president for example …) 

*By this I don’t mean that everyone in the world must speak up for Loliondo and Ngorongoro pastoralists, but that those who keep talking about Ngorongoro, and even intervening, investing, working and advocating, can’t be allowed to defend injustice and atrocities by claiming that the issue is “too complicated”, which it just isn’t. 

A reminder about the genocidal Multiple Land Use Model review proposal

People living under the authoritarian rule of the NCAA, are not allowed to grow crops or build modern houses, and 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 the 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 proposal of the MLUM review report is 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 already been banned through order. This has led to a loss of 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) and the 1,500 km2 Osero 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 that organizes hunting for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, and has a local police state at its service, which has led to several illegal invasions of village land, multiple human rights crimes, fear and treason. 

A year since election murder

On 28th October it was a year since police and NCAA rangers opened fire at unarmed voters at Oloirobi polling station in Oloirobi, Ngorongoro ward, killing not yet 22-year-old Salula Ngorisiolo (I’ve earlier been writing that he was 23). 

On this day of shame in the history of Tanzania, similar to was what happening all over the country, opposition polling agents weren’t allowed in at the Oloirobi polling station, and around 10am a vehicle belonging to a CCM cadre called Sammi arrived with this Sammi, a CCM polling agent named Oltunyo Oloitai and boxes full of pre-marked ballots. Opposition polling agents and voters refused to let this happen, and Sammi and Oltunyo were taken away by the police. No action was however taken against them, and they were soon seen out and about again. Such boxes, bags and baskets were intercepted all over Tanzania, and reportedly they occurred in other areas of Ngorongoro as well, but it seems like, in the district, only in Oloirobi were the polling agents and voters brave enough to try to stop it. Though in Endulen, the night before the election, the opposition managed to stop CCM’s plan for three fake polling stations. 

Around noon there was a second attempt at rigging. Then it was “discovered” that the polling agents didn’t have identification from the returning officer, then DED Siumbu. Initially, no party had their agents identified. Only in the middle of the confrontation, the assistant returning officer availed identification letters to CCM polling agents alone. 

When the opposition polling agents and the voters resisted the removal of the polling agents, the police and the NCAA rangers task force fired teargas and live bullets at the innocent, unarmed civilians. Salula Ngorisiolo was killed. Leepalai Kashiro, who was shot in the stomach, was taken to hospital, while the injured Meshuko Lesitik, Neepai Olorru, and Kone Leyan were taken into police custody. 

After the murder, the voting was suspended, and then followed hunting and arrests of opposition candidates and cadres. CHADEMA councillor candidate for Ngorongoro ward Tubulu Nebasi, who hadn’t even been at the polling station in Oloirobi, former CCM councillor Daniel Orkery, and the three injured men not in hospital, were detained by the police. 

For several days nobody seemed sure where the illegally arrested defenders of democracy had been taken, but on 4th November 2020, they were taken to court in Loliondo and released on bail. The charges were of rioting at the polling station, assaulting an assistant returning officer and a guard, and damaging ballot boxes and ballot papers. 

The ruling was finally delivered on 10th June 2021. Paulo Neepai Olorru and Gabriel Kone Leyan were convicted on one count of riot and one count of damaging ballot boxes, and sentenced to a TShs 100,000 fine each for each count, or 1 year imprisonment, in total TShs 400,000, or 200,000 each. If there were any justice, they would have been awarded medals, not convicted. The other three accused were acquitted. The murderers continue walking free. 

Salula Ngorisiolo

It hasn’t been easy to get any details about Salula’s life, but I’ve finally heard from his maternal uncle who told me that Salula was born in Oloirobi village on 20th December 1998 (I’ve been writing that he was 23 years old, but he was not yet 22). From 2005 to 2011 he completed his primary school education at Oloirobi primary school. After that he didn’t manage to go to secondary school. He has two young brothers and four sisters. Both his parents are still alive. Salula’s father is of the Ormakaa age set and almost 75 years old. 

Before he was circumcised, Salula’s parents were very poor owning only three cows, but after circumcision Salula went to Kenya to do some watchman work and come back with ten goats and money to buy enough food for his family. When at home he helped his father to take care of the cows and building the boma. 

Salula’s family depended on him and now they are experiencing very hard living conditions, drinking uji (porridge) as the only food, and sometimes it’s difficult even to buy maize for making uji. As one of their closest relatives the uncle supports them, sometimes giving them some money to buy maize or cooking oil. Please get in touch with the uncle if you’d like to give Salula’s parents some goats, or cows. 

Salula wasn’t involved in politics. He was in Kenya looking for watchman jobs, and came back for the election. When fake ballots were brought and opposition polling agent were not allowed into the polling station, he was one of many youths who opposed the unacceptable behaviour – and then the police and NCAA rangers opened fire. 

When Salula’s uncle was looking for the post-mortem report from the hospital the security officers and doctor were not willing to share it with him. He only got a death certificate, on which a spade is very far from being called a spade. 

Salula’s uncle still today cries when he remembers Salula’s death in public, which nobody, especially government officials, said anything about. 

By-election

As mentioned in the latest blog post, after William Olenasha’s sad and untimely passing, a by-election was to be held to find a new MP for Ngorongoro. On 25th October, the CCM delegates voted for their candidate and the winner was the current councillor for Endulen and District Council Chairman, Emmanuel Oleshangai. This was somewhat fortunate, since among the CCM candidates, Oleshangai is the most able, and likely, to speak up against the abuse that’s being committed against the people of Ngorongoro. He has already spoken up many times – but not always, and in between he can heap inexplicable praise on the worst of government figures – and there isn’t the slightest chance that he’d speak up against the election murder. 

Since the opposition will not participate until there’s a free and independent electoral commission, Emmanuel Oleshangai will become the new MP – or so I thought before people started saying that the NCAA were working hard to influence the nomination, and from 2nd November the CCM Committee from Arusha region was in every part of Ngorongoro reportedly (reported by many) trying to persuade the delegates to agree to anyone brought in by the party. I was told there was considerable risk that the lesser evil would not be allowed. Though it was hard to understand what was going on and still nobody has explained it with any clarity. 

However, on 7th November, the CCM National Executive Committee announced that Oleshangai was indeed the candidate. I hope to find out what happened. Now the district council chairmanship must be prevented from going to OBC …

From 9th November, other political parties have picked up the form for participating in the by-election. None of the opposition candidates is from Ngorongoro or known by anyone I have asked. Neither do the political parties have offices in the constituency. Most of them are unknown to the extent that their existence can be doubted. 

The 13 ghost candidates are being paraded to create a public impression that the by-election is participatory for all political parties given the fact that the main opposition CHADEMA has boycotted all by-elections citing the violent 2020 general election. 

DED at the service of Thomson Safaris

In the latest blog post, I mentioned how the new DED, Jumaa Mhina, was pressuring the chairmen of Ololosokwan, Kirtalo, Oloirien and Arash to withdraw the case concerning the 1,500 km2 in Loliondo that OBC keep lobbying to have turned into a protected area, which since 2019 is part of the genocidal Multiple Land Use Model review report proposal, that also threatens areas outside Ngorongoro Conservation Area. 

Now it’s been reported that the DED has prepared a letter saying that the villagers of Sukenya, Mondorosi and Soitsambu want to withdraw from the case against the ruthlessly hypocrite Thomson Safaris from Boston, that claim 12,617 acres as their very own private “Enashiva Nature Refuge”, while copying OBC's dirty tricks and adding their own ones. 

This case is after a most unjust ruling in 2015 still in the court of appeal, and it’s virtually impossible to obtain any information about it, maybe because fewer people are directly affected, and certainly because the persecution of those speaking up against Thomson Safaris has been even worse than against OBC’s critics. On 10th November, one resident of Mondorosi who hadn’t been vocal before alerted people in social media to the worrying news that DED Mhina had prepared this letter without involving the villagers who did not in any way want to withdraw from the court case, and who were telling the chairmen not to sign. Some other voices were added, but without providing much detail. The little additional information I’ve been able to obtain tells that there are some worries about compromised village leaders whose level of intelligence isn’t that high, but who will still not sign the DED’s fake letter. 

On 12th November a brief news clip from Star tv was shared in Whatsapp. Apparently, it had been broadcast already on the 10th and without much detail a couple of villagers and two lawyers complain that the lawyers have been prevented – on order by the DED - from meeting the villagers to update them about the case. The reporter phones the DED who has the classic explanation that the lawyers did not report to his office before going to the villages. As is known, when following this kind of procedure in Loliondo, visitors are just stopped at an earlier stage, and prevented from doing anything meaningful. Then the DED says that the by-election has started and wonders why the lawyers are going to incite the villagers. Still, I’m happy that finally after the years of panicked silence following the illegal arrests, torture, and malicious prosecution of 2016, there was a brief news clip.

 

 

I’d appreciate more information about this DED, Jumaa Mhina, who’s filling the position usually reserved for he Ngorongoro DC in the Loliondo police state, and of course, more information about the current schemes by the horrible Thomson Safaris would be invaluable. The actual DC, Raymond Mwangwala, is still seen as a friendly young man, even if there is evidence that he’s visited the worst of “investors”. This issue requires another blog post. 

Then, I’d like to ask everyone involved in the Loliondo case in the East Africa Court of Justice, and anyone who could get involved, to please move this crucial issue up on your list of priorities! 

And, if you can, do get in contact with Salula Ngorisiolo’s maternal uncle to assist his parents.

View from the Termite Mound: There was a Press Conference by Ngorongoro Representatives to Respond to the Imposter Lekisongo, It’s Over a Year Since the Election Murder that Killed Salula Ngorisiolo, and the DED Works Hard for the Loliondo Police State (termitemoundview.blogspot.com)

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