Maa

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Personal Communication
Extract Author: Indigenous Rights for Survival International
Page Number: b
Extract Date: 2/1/03

Stop the killing fields of Loliondo

[click on the link to see the original MS Word document]

Indigenous Rights for Survival International

P.O. Box 13357

Dar Es Salaam.

E-mail: ndaskoi@uccmail.co.tz

Alternative E-mail: fighters@bushlink.com

02.01.2003

The President

The United Republic of Tanzania

P.O. Box 9120

Dar Es Salaam.

Ref. No.L/32.pipex.02.

If it pleases the Honourable President Benjamin Mkapa

Re: Stop the killing fields of Loliondo

I am a Tanzanian citizen, a strong believer in social justice. Under the same spirit I am the Co-coordinator of an informal group called Indigenous Rights for Survival International (IRSI). IRSI is a loose network of young people with an interest in public policy issues in Africa. We mainly discuss policy issues through emails communications and ultimately write articles in the press. IRSI as an entity takes no position on any of the discussed issues instead it simply stimulates, steers, and co-ordinates discussions and debates on public policy issues of members’ interest.

Mr. President, I have all along believed that you can stop the crime against humanity being inflicted upon the people of Loliondo, Ngorongoro District of Arusha Region by a no less authority than the Government of Tanzania.

Mr. President, Loliondo Division is located in Maasai ancestral lands in the northern part of Tanzania along the common border with Kenya. It borders the Ngorongoro highlands to the south, Serengeti National Park to the west, and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya to the north. The Loliondo Game Controlled Area (LCGA) encompasses an estimated 4,000 sq km. There is no physical barrier separating the LGCA from other protected areas. It is a continuous ecosystem. LGCA was initially established in 1959 as a Game Reserve by the British colonialists under the then Fauna Conservation Ordinance, Section 302, a legal instrument the colonial authorities used to set aside portions of land for wildlife conservation. The legal status of the reserve was later changed to that of a Game Controlled Area to allow for commercial Hunting, a status that defines LGCA today and haunts its wildlife.

Mr. President, Loliondo forms an important part of the semi-annual migratory route of millions of wildebeests and other ungulates northward into the Maasai Mara Game Reserve and Amboseli National Park in Kenya between April and June, and returning southward later in the year. The survival of the Ngorongoro-Serengeti-Maasai Mara ecosystem and the wildlife it supports is linked to the existence of Loliondo and other surrounding communal Maasai lands in Tanzania and Kenya. Similarly, the survival of the Maasai people is dependent entirely upon the protection of their ancestral land for economic viability and cultural reproduction. Land to the Maasai is the foundation for their spirituality and the base for identity.

Mr. President, the people of Ngorongoro District in general and Loliondo Division in particular have suffered for a long time various established pains such as irrational grabbing of their ancestral land for “development”, tourism (consumptive and non-consumptive) and cultivation. While the people of Loliondo have lost much of their ancestral land to cultivation, the Government is evidently supporting private investors to further put Maasai pastoralists of Loliondo at a very awkward corner.

In 1992, the administration of the former president Ali Hassan Mwinyi granted the entire Loliondo Game Controlled Area (LGCA) as a Hunting concession to the Otterlo Business Corporation Ltd (OBC), a game-Hunting firm based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Government issued a 10-year Hunting permit, under the controversial agreement, to the Brigadier Mohammed Abdulrahim Al-Ali, believed to be a member of the royal family of the UAE, of Abu Dhabi in the UAE who owns (OBC). The grabbed land is a birthright land of thousands of villagers of Arash, Soitsambu, Oloipiri, Ololosokwan, Loosoito and Oloirien villages of Loliondo.

Mr. President, a Parliamentary Committee was formed to probe the Loliondo Gate saga. It revoked the dirty agreement. Strangely, a similar agreement was established.

In January 2000, OBC was granted another 5-year Hunting permit in the said area. As usual, without the villagers’ consent. OBC constructed an airstrip. The villagers have been witnessing live animals being exported through the airstrip. OBC constructed structures near water sources. Hearing of the new permit, the Maasai sent a 13-men protest delegation to Dar Es Salaam in April 2000. The intention was to sort out the matter with you Mr. President. Unfortunately, they did not see you.

However, the delegation managed to hold a press conference at MAELEZO, National Information Corporation Centre. The Maasai contemplated a number of actions to be taken against both your Government and the Arab in connection with the plunder of the resources. The Maasai said that before a mass exodus of the Maasai to Kenya the first thing was to eliminate wild animals. Thereafter, the delegation retreated to Loliondo, as gravely frustrated as before.

The general election was scheduled for 2000, so the saga had to be explained away. The official statement was that power hungry opposition politicians were pushing the elders and that all the claims by the Maasai were “unfounded” and “baseless.” To its credit, The Guardian went to Loliondo. It reported the following:

Maasai elders in Loliondo, Arusha Region, who recently declared a land dispute against OBC Ltd, a foreign game-Hunting firm, have accused some top Government officials of corrupt practices, saying the conflict is not political. The Arusha Regional Commissioner, Daniel ole Njoolay, recently described the simmering land dispute between the Maasai pastoralists and OBC, as a political issue.

Francis Shomet [the former Chairman for Ngorongoro District Council] claimed that Njoolay had misled Tanzanians to believe that the allegations recently raised by Maasai elders were unfounded and baseless. Fidelis Kashe, Ngorongoro District Council Chairman maintained, “We cannot stand idle to see our land being taken away by Arabs. We will kill all the animals in the area as these are the ones attracting the Arabs into our land” (The Guardian May 30, 2000).

The next morning Government officials were reported to have said the following:

The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Zakia Meghji, yesterday assured Ngorongoro residents that no land has been sold or grabbed by Arabs in Loliondo. Flanked by the Arusha Regional Commissioner, Daniel ole Njoolay and the Director of Wildlife, Emanuel Severre, Meghji commented, “There is no clause on the sale of land in the contract signed between OBC and the six villages of Ololosokwan, Arash, Maaloni, Oloirien, Oloipiri and Soitsambu.”

However an inquiry conducted by The Guardian in Loliondo last week established that the Maasai elders were not involved in the re-lease of the Hunting block to the company. According to Megji, her probe established that the building has been constructed about 400 metres from the water source, 200 metres more than the distance recommended by law. But The Guardian investigation shows that the structures are less than 50 metres from a spring. And another spring has dried up (The Guardian May 31, 2000).

Mr. President, underline two points. First, the Minister said the building has been constructed 400 metres from the water source. Second, “The Guardian investigation shows that the structures are less than 50 metres from a spring.” Now unless one’s mathematics teacher at school was daft, there is a huge different between 50 and 400! When did 50 metric metres turn to mean 400 metric metres? Can it be claimed that the Maasai were party to this so-called agreement? I am at a loss why this-well known-Minister has not been made to face the full force of the law.

In the proposal, Brigadier Al Ali outlined the benefits of his operations in Loliondo to the Government, local communities, and wildlife conservation in the Serengeti-Maasai Mara-Ngorongoro ecosystem. Among its important objectives were:

• To conserve an area contiguous to the Serengeti National Park, which is essential to the long-term survival of the ecosystem and its migration.

• To develop a new role and image for the Arab world as regards wildlife conservation, management, and human development.

• To improve locals’ revenue, development facilities, and create employment.

• To generate revenues for the Central and District Governments.

The OBC now stands accused of self-contradiction and violation of legal and moral obligations in virtually all the above areas, resulting instead in environmental destruction; unfulfilled promises and exploitation of the local communities; and direct undermining of the stability of the region’s wildlife and natural habitats.

It has become evident that OBC had a long-term agenda for exploiting the high concentration of wildlife in Loliondo. Its Hunting operations are guaranteed by the continuous flow of wildlife from the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Maasai Mara, and other areas. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, OBC "was taking advantage of migratory patterns of wildlife coming out of Serengeti."

Mr. President, be informed that the villages in and adjacent to protected areas in Tanzania have no Government-supported infrastructures. Take Ngorongoro District for instance. There is no Government hospital in Ngorongoro. It may take a week to travel from Arusha to Loliondo, just less than 400 km, depending on weather, for there is no road. There is no even a single Government advanced level secondary education school in six (repeat six) Districts in the Greater Serengeti Region. This situation brings to question the legitimacy of wildlife conservation vis-à-vis the right of rural people to lead a decent life given nature endowment in their localities.

Mr. President, the Maasai of Loliondo have for a long time accused OBC of grave human rights abuses. They have described acts of intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and even torture by OBC staff, Tanzanian police and military in the name of OBC; brazen violations of grazing and land rights; and wanton environmental destruction and imminent extermination of wildlife. They have seen leaders who once opposed OBC’s practices corrupted and bought-off.

The OBC operates like a separate arm of the Government. Many people in Loliondo believe that OBC is even more powerful than the Government. The Maa word for "the Arab", Olarrabui, is often used to refer Brigadier Al Ali, and by extension OBC. The word Olarrabui has become synonymous with power, authority, brutality, fear, and entities larger than life.

Mr. President, you do not need to be a rocket scientist to comprehend that this is the clearest case of abuse of office. It is suggested, for those willing to avert disaster, the Tanzania Government included, that immediate steps be taken to put to an end the violation of fundamental human rights in Ngorongoro. As to lands lost in Loliondo, the Government is advised to return this to its owners. Land should not be grabbed senselessly. The Government, should at once, re-look into the whole matter.

Regards,

Navaya ole Ndaskoi.

CC

- The International Court of Justice

- The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights

- The United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations

- Human Rights Groups around the World

- Faculty of Law of the University of Dar Es Salaam

- Local and International Conservation Agencies

- Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources

- The Attorney General

- The Chief Justice

- The Speaker of the United Republic of Tanzania Parliament

- The Press, print and electronic

- Political parties in Tanzania

- Tanganyika Law Society

- Other interested parties.

Navaya ole Ndaskoi

see also Extract 3734

The Maasai protest delegation holding a press conference in Dar Es Salaam in 2000

Extract ID: 3733

See also

nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: Sue
Page Number: 2004 09 18

Maa Dictionary

I am looking for a dictionary of massai (Maa) words translated into english. Do you know of one….thanks sue

The only one I know of is by Mol, F. Fr. - Maa: A Dictionary of the Maasai Language and Folklore

The reference I have says it was printed

1978 Publisher: Marketing and Publishing Ltd. Nairobi

but this must be a reprint, because I think the original was done about 100 years ago. I’ve seen a copy in a house in Tanzania, but I suspect that’s it hard to get hold of.

However, you may find more of what you need here

http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~dlpayne/maasai/madict.htm

 

Extract ID: 4858
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