OBC - Hunters from Dubai and the Threat against 1,500 km2 of Maasai Land in Loliondo
Posted on Dec 31, 2015
A year end review of the history of the conflict between conservation, hunting and the Maasai of Loliondo
OBC have been hunting in Loliondo since 1993. There were extrajudicial evictions in 2009 from the sought-after 1,500 km2 next to Serengeti National Park. People eventually moved back. In 2011 a draft district land use plan – funded by OBC – proposed turning the 1,500 km2 into a protected area. This was strongly rejected by the district council. In 2013 Minister Kagasheki made statements threatening to take the 1,500 km2. The threat was revoked by the PM, who said the land belonged to the Maasai that should continue their lives as before. This promise has not been put in writing. After 2013 there haven’t been any open official statements from the Tanzanian government announcing any interest in grabbing land in Loliondo. There have however been alleged threats in closed meetings, and a media campaign against the Maasai of Loliondo. A written declaration from the government is needed, and so is continued vigilance.
Loliondogate in the 90s
On 11 November 1992 the then Minister for Tourism, Natural Resources and Environment (as was the name of the ministry at the time), Abubakar Mgumia, granted the Loliondo Game Controlled Area (North and South) hunting blocks “for a period of 10 calendar years, renewable effective January, 1993” to Brigadier Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Ali from Dubai, deputy minister for defence of the United Arab Emirates. The minister’s letter refers to a letter from Brigadier Al Ali of 14 September 1992. It was Mgumia who – in this letter granting the hunting block - advised the Brigadier that a “company should be formed to manage the Concession Area as agreed and in accordance with Tanzania Company laws and regulation”. The minister also reminded Al Ali that an agreement should be drawn between him and Ngorongoro District Council, that he should strictly abide by all wildlife laws and regulations, and that TAWICO should be allowed to use the area for their clients until 31 March 1993. Mgumia added that Al Ali’s agreement to contribute 25% of the revenue to the District Council was over and above the normal contribution. (MTNRE/A/100/4/97) OBC’s general manager did in 2007 write that, after a hunting safari on a presidential permit in 2001, Al Ali made a courtesy call to the then Prime Minister John Malecela, and an expression of interest in acquiring the Loliondo hunting block was made. Al Ali had already been to Tanzania for hunting several times since 1985. (Ndaskoi, 2010)
Latest information is that Al Ali is Lt. General, Assistant Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Defence in the UAE, and also chairman of the board of Al Ali Property Investment. The company he started for the purpose of hunting in Loliondo is Otterlo Business Corporation (OBC), which isn’t a corporation, and probably not even a pro profit company.
The now de-facto extinct Loliondo GCA that’s OBC’s hunting block is some 4,000 square kilometres and comprises the whole of Loliondo division and part of Sale division of Ngorongoro. The third division of Ngorongoro District, south of Loliondo, not in the hunting block, is Ngorongoro Conservation Area where the Maasai live under the rule and severe restrictions of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, and that does serve as a horror image for Loliondo not be turned into. Loliondo’s location with the Republic of Kenya to the north and to the west Serengeti National Park - to which much land was lost in 1959 - has had consequences. It should be made clear that this means that Loliondo lies to the east of Serengeti. Too many articles mention another cardinal point that starts with “w”. Don’t do that… The Lake Natron Ramsar site is found to the east of Loliondo. When this blogger has travelled to Loliondo, the usually mentioned as 400-km bus trip from Arusha has never lasted less than 10 hours. (Google Maps says 363 km for the Crater route, while the currently preferred route by the bus company is the hotter and dustier Lake Natron route).
There are three Maasai sections in Loliondo - the Purko, the Loita and the Laitayok –which has facilitated the use of divide and rule tactics.
The at the time member of parliament for Ngorongoro, Richard Koillah, District Commissioner Leban Makunenge and other government officials toured the six villages of Loliondo Division that bordered the national park trying in vain to convince the villagers into signing the agreement allowing Al Ali to hunt on their village land. After failing they went on to sign the contract between Al Ali and the Ngorongoro District Council for “wildlife conservation, management and rural development of Loliondo Game Controlled Area” themselves, without involving the villagers. Ahmed Saeed Abulrahman Alkhateeb signed for and on behalf of H.E. Brigadier Al Ali. The Ngorongoro DC, Col. Leban Makunenge, signed for the central government while the District Executive Director signed for of the Ngorongoro District Council. The late Richard Koillah, then MP for Ngorongoro, signed the contract on behalf of six villages; i.e., Ololosokwan, Soitsambu, Oloipiri, Olorien-Magaiduru, Loosoito-Maaloni and Arash The villages of Piyaya and Malambo are not mentioned anywhere in the contract. (Mkataba kwa Ajili ya Kuhifadhi na Kusimamia Maendeleo ya Wanyamapori Ilikuleta Maendeleo ya Vijiji katika Eneo la Loliondo Game Controlled Area: South and North, 1992)
Villages registered according to the TAMISEMI Act No.7 of 1982 could at the time legally enter into binding agreements on their own behalf.
The deal was closely followed in the Tanzanian press and came to be known as “Loliondogate”. Besides bypassing the villages this scandal consisted of granting the hunting block for 10 years instead of the habitual 5 years, and doing this when TAWICO (a parastatal that had managed hunting blocks in Tanzania until the Wildlife Division took over in 1988) had already been granted the concession from 1991 to 1996. According to the press, both the board of directors of TAWICO and the director of wildlife issued protests, but in vain. Mary Ndosi who first represented OBC in Tanzania used the P.O Box of the Attorney General and there were allegations that Al Ali was a personal friend of President Mwinyi. Widely covered was Al Ali’s hunting trip to Longido (a more arid area east of Loliondo) in January 1993 together with the current ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who at the time was UAE Minister for Defence. They were accompanied by the Tanzanian ambassador to UAE and an entourage of 67 people. Even Minister Mgumia admitted to the paper Mfanyakazi that there were hunting excesses, and the hunters flew off with live zebras and antelopes, one of which dropped dead at Kilimanjaro International Airport. At the airport was Abdulrahman Kinana, the Minister for Defence and National Service at the time, representing the Tanzanian Government. (Ndaskoi, 2010) Even the New York times reported that the hunters from Dubai significantly reduced the population of gerenuk in Longido.
Tanzanian press does far too often mix up Longido and Loliondo, but this was not the case of the Mfanyakazi in 1993.
On 7 February 1993 Mgumia announced that OBC would start its hunting activities in the Loliondo Game Controlled Area on 1 April 1993.
The journalist most closely following the deal was Stan Katabalo, in the Mfanyakazi from 20 January 1993, until he passed away under disputed circumstances on 26 September 1993. Stan Katabalo got much of his information from Moringe ole Parkipuny, the first MP for Ngorongoro who had been outmanoeuvred and frustrated by one-party politics, and founded the first pastoralist NGO in Loliondo, and Tanzania, in 1990. On 2 May 1993 when Parkipuny was driving home from Loliondo “town”, some 300 meters before levelling with the Loliondo police station, the police fired at his car from the back. The bullet broke the glass of the rear door, went between his shoulder and ear, and smashed the windscreen. The policeman who fired the gun was known. He was given orders by the officer commanding district to shoot. No action was taken against the shooter, or anyone else.
On 17 April 1993 the BBC Swahili Service announced that President Mwinyi had removed Abubakar Mgumia from the Ministry of Tourism, Natural Resources and Environment which he was heading in connection to the Loliondogate scandal. In 1994 a Parliamentary Select Committee produced the Marmo Report detailing abuse and irregularities concerning OBC (this blogger has spent years screaming for this report, but have failed at laying my hands on it). In 1996 the Warioba report named OBC as one of the most corrupt companies in Tanzania (I’m looking for this report too).
After the controversies, OBC's 10-year permit was at some point revoked, but then renewed for a regular 5-year period in 1995 and has since kept being renewed.
By 2000 OBC had adopted a hostile attitude towards cattle. Ben Gardner (Tourism and the politics of the global land grab in Tanzania: markets, appropriation and recognition, 2012) has written that a series of droughts had made the area next to Serengeti National Park more essential for herders to graze their animals, and families had re-established their homes into the area after having been away due to problems with cattle rustlers from west of the park.
While OBC’s hunting block is the whole 4,000 km2, and they could therefore hunt rats around the DC’s office, the core hunting area, where they actually hunt, is an area next to Serengeti National Park, described as a “corridor” of 1,500 km2. This osero or bushland is an important dry season grazing area for the Maasai. Conservation organisations had already at different times proposed the alienation of this area as a “buffer zone”.
In April 2000 the Loliondo Maasai sent a 13-men protest delegation led by the traditional leader Sandet ole Reya to Dar-es-Salaam. The intention was to sort out the conflict with OBC through seeking support from President Mkapa, whom they did not manage to meet, but the delegation did hold a press conference at the national auditorium. The Maasai announced that before a mass exodus to Kenya they would have to eliminate wild animals in Ngorongoro District since those were the magnets attracting land grabbers. They denounced that OBC were building a 3-kilometre airstrip and constructing a building less than 50 metres from a water source. The then Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Zakia Meghji went to Loliondo, and upon her return she - correctly but missing the point – told the press “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.” and declared the Maasai accusations unfounded. The airstrip and buildings are still there for anyone to see.
Unlike what’s often mentioned in the press, land in Loliondo has never been sold, or about to be sold, to OBC.
In 2001 the Kenyan organisation MERC wrote an ambitious report about OBC in Loliondo, with much focus on Loliondogate-style hunting abuse. This was a long time ago, and MERC have not kept it up. This organisation worked together with Moringe Parkipuny who was reportedly not happy when he got to know that the report was still circulating over a decade later.
In 2002 the Kenyan journalist John Mbaria wrote several articles in the East African about OBC’s hunting excesses and how these were gravely endangering Kenyan wildlife. This led to a rebuttal by the Tanzania Wildlife Department claiming total legality, environmental responsibility and benefits out of the ordinary to the local economy. Local activists from Loliondo (Ndoinyo/Meitaya, Ngoitiko) joined in describing the bypassing of the legal land owner – the villages – and disturbing grazing as the main problems, and not the probable (even if not as severe as described by Kenyans) but hard to prove hunting excesses. They also emphasised that OBC’s contributions were goodwill, had no binding mechanism, and did not compensate for the extraction of natural resources. Around this time was journalist Ted Botha interested in writing about Loliondo, but since not a single editor wanted the story he instead wrote about the article that never was. The Washington Times did run a short article about Loliondo in March 2002.
Loliondo villages started getting threatening letters saying that livestock would be evicted from the 1,500 km2, and in December 2007 they got a letter from the then DC Jowika Kasunga ordering them to discuss a proposed new contract between the villages and OBC. He cautioned that discontinuing OBC’s hunting block was not an option and warned villagers to stay away from inciting against the contract.
One year later, in the afternoon of 8 August 2007, Molonget Konerei and other herders were out looking for lost sheep. At sundown they were passing OBC’s yard in Soitsambu when behind them came one or more vehicles. The herders ran off in panic in different directions and when they got home they discovered that Konerei was missing. They returned to the site where they found a puddle of blood at the roadside. Konerei’s dead body was at Wasso Hospital. Local authorities concluded that it was an ordinary road accident. OBC staff said they had been out pursuing poachers when they hit Konerei killing him instantly. He left behind a widow and three children. Some of the herders said they had heard gunshots, and Konerei’s family wanted a new post mortem.
In February 2008 did the traditional leaders send a letter to the DC urging him to ask OBC to stop acting violent against the local people. They also asked the DC for a physical meeting between the leaders and Brigadier Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Ali in person to discuss the conflict between his company and the pastoralists of Loliondo. A week later a delegation from Loliondo went to Dar es Salaam to ask the government to intervene.
The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Shamsa Mwangunga, visited Loliondo in March 2008 warning tour operators that had direct contracts with the villages that they were operating illegally. In the late 1980s private tour companies began entering into agreements with villages in Loliondo for camping and walking safaris. These agreements were first encouraged by the authorities, then declared illegal, and then made to pay fees directly to the central government. The government wants Wildlife Management Areas to be the only option for community involvement in wildlife tourism. The direct contracts have often been described (by Fred Nelson, Ben Gardner and others) as used by the Maasai as a strategy to strengthen the position of the villages as landowners, against the central government (or the state, but everyone in Loliondo talk about the “government”).
The DC coerced the villages to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with OBC. This MoU, however, lacked both a timeframe and a mechanism to raise payments to the villages. The contract did provide the establishment of a joint management committee to coordinate grazing and hunting, contrary to the lack of experience or intention of the company to respect pastoralism. There never were any meetings though. (This blogger does not have the MoU.
The Extrajudicial Evictions in 2009
On 18 May 2009 the District Administrative Secretary for Ngorongoro, Mabuga, wrote a legitimate order, amri halali, on behalf of the DC to the Executive Officers of Arash, Orgosorok, Soitsambu and Malambo Wards and to the Executive Officers of Ololosokwan, Soitsambu, Oloipiri, Arash, Olorien-Magaiduru and Piyaya Villages. The order read that on 15 May 2009 the Arusha Regional Commissioner, Isidori Shirima, sent a 4-person commission which joined the Ngorongoro District Security Committee and sat on 16 May with an agenda of finding a strategy to end the “invasion problem” and environmental destruction in the hunting block belonging to OBC. The order gave the “invaders” a 7-days ultimatum to vacate the area that is referred to as the hunting block (kitalu cha uwindaji), but obviously meaning the 1,500 km2 “core hunting area”.
None of the villages responded to the letters, since they assumed that the MoU was between the company and the villages and the government had no say in this.
In May and June, the Arusha Times reported how OBC had donated 100 tonnes of grain to the residents of Ngorongoro District and that the hunters had assisted in anti-poaching operations.
On 4 July the paramilitary Field Force Unit from Arusha descended on the pastoralists in western Loliondo. They arrived in vehicles loaded with armed men and drums of petrol. They set on fire whole homesteads, destroying everything inclusive of some young animals in the enclosures, houses and family grain reserves in stores.
Around 200 permanent and temporary bomas were burnt to the ground, including grain stores and young goats also perished. Many cases of beatings, humiliations and sexual assault have been reported. Several children were lost in the chaos and terror and one of them – 7-year-old Nashipai Gume from Arash – has not been found, ever since.
Criminal acts were also committed against several other people. FFU officers have been accused of attempts to rape a girl in Arash. Other reports from Ololosokwan speak of tying up two young men the way donkeys are and thereafter forced to haul a cart like animals. On 4 July police officers in Soitsambu shot in the air spreading fear allegedly making a woman to miscarry. On 12 July a 70-year old man from Arash was beaten up and some of his money stolen by police officers. The officers then ordered his three wives to inflict ten strokes each on his back in the presence of everyone around, and thereafter the police officers took away TSh 100,000. The home of 90-year old Orkoskos Yaile, born in Karkamoru sub-village (inside the 1,500 square kilometres) was burnt to the ground and he lost many animals.
In addition to the other atrocities some 60,000 heads of cattle were pushed out of the dry season grazing area forcefully by the FFU squads into an extreme drought-hit area and calves were left behind in the stampede. This significantly worsened the alarming rates of cattle deaths of this 2009 drought.
Legal and Human Rights Centre affirmed that:
Firstly, the eviction of Maasai from their original land (Loliondo Game Controlled Area) was unlawful because, their villages are registered; therefore they are residing in accordance with the law.
Secondly, they have the right to live in accordance with their culture and tradition.
Thirdly, the eviction process did not follow the legal procedures– of securing a court order and that the police acted on the unlawful order of the District Commissioner as there is not any law in Tanzania which gives him powers to order such an eviction without the court order. (Tanzania Human Rights Reports, 2009)
The evictions are widely seen as part of the anti-pastoralist drive that began already when president Kikwete in his inauguration speech in December 2005 incited against pastoralists – and then followed a series of anti-livestock operations full of human rights abuse.
The then MP for Ngorongoro, Kaika Saning’o Telele, demanded answers in parliament. Shamsa Mwangunga, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism at the time, replied that the Arusha Regional Commissioner (RC) had told her that the operation was executed by the Arusha Region. She also said that the RC had assured her that the pastoralists were consulted and given enough time to move out of the area voluntarily and that the pastoralists themselves decided to set their homes ablaze since they were moving out of the area anyway. The minister claimed that there was no conflict between OBC and the Maasai since the investor was involved in many development projects, but accused unnamed people and institutions of instigation. The MP went to Loliondo and saw smouldering ashes and met with fury and troubled minds. Mwangunga, also visited the district on 15 July. It was expected that she would meet the Maasai community and especially the victims of the evictions, but she only met a small group of government leaders. The minister then ordered a halt to the eviction until certain issues were clarified – but the operation continued. She also felt sorry for the excessive use of force by the FFU team but she called it a normal thing for this force to overdo. The minister repeated that OBC had been collaborating with the villages and the government, and any other party interfering would be dealt with accordingly. If need be, NGOs would be de-registered.
A month after the evictions DC Elias Wawa Lali told an investigative team led by the NGO network FemAct that the operation was necessary to protect the environment, that it was legal, and carried out in a way paying due regard to human rights.
The European Union sent its own fact-finding mission to Loliondo on 6 September. The Danish Ambassador, Bjarne H. Sørensen, complained that “Local Government Authorities failed to facilitate us in this visiting the affected villages. However, through consultation with others we were able to see and hear that evictions and burning of bomas indeed have taken place”
On 28 September 2009 Ngodidio Roitiken went herding in the Mbarashani area of Soitsambu. 'The police came and found me looking after cattle. They tear gassed us. Something hit me and I fell down unconscious. I later found myself in Wasso Hospital' (Roitiken to Ndaskoi, 21 December 2009). According to the then Regional Police Commander, Basilio Mateo, Ngodidio had been hit by a tear gas canister. Ngodidio was, after a tug of war between relatives and the police, taken to hospital in Arusha. He lost his eye and was together with four others charged with trespassing, environmental destruction and threatening the police. The case was dismissed for lack of evidence, almost five years later, on 4 February 2014.
There have been many reports about the evictions, and most of low quality. There’s a widely distributed report by the government organ, Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) that, after consulting with some officials on 14-18 September 2009, concludes that there were no human right abuses during the operation that included an order of “daily prayer before engaging in the exercise” by the acting DC (DC of Karatu since the new Ngorongoro DC Elias Wawa Lali was on a leave, according to this report). Of greater interest is the reason given by District Natural Resources Officer Masegeri Tumbuya Rurai, “For almost five consecutive past years it is alleged, OBC has failed to effectively utilize their licence and enjoy their hunting rights due to this invasion. After rigorous follow up it is this year that the government, after witnessing the migration, considered their concern and deliberated on the evacuation. The government was left with no option other than respecting and honouring of the contractual obligation”. Not a single victim was interviewed by CHRAGG.
H.H Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, a.k.a Fazza posted pictures on his website and Facebook page from a hunt in Loliondo 2009 together with his father Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai and a big entourage.
On 6 November 2009 MP Telele tabled a private statement in Parliament. In the 14-point submission, he sought explanations from the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism on reports of gross violation of human rights during the eviction of pastoralists from OBC’s hunting area in Loliondo. Mwangunga replied that an eight-member Commission did not find any human rights violation and that no woman was raped and there was no food reserves and animals burnt. She also repeated her claim that OBC’s hunting area had been “invaded”. The Standing Committee chaired by MP for Kongwa, Job Ndugai, was asked to investigate the conflict and report back in the next session of parliament, on 6 February 2010. (Ndaskoi, 2010)
The tabling of the Ndugai Report in parliament was scheduled for 9 February 2010. On the evening of the 8th the legislators from the ruling CCM party met in Dodoma. Ndugai dismissed all 14 complaints raised by the MP for Ngorongoro as baseless. Telele protested and demanded that the report should be tabled in parliament the next day, the MP for Longido walked out of the meeting in protest and the MP for Kiteto revealed that he knew the villages well and, in his capacity as the Executive Director of the Arusha Diocesan Development Office, he was in 1990 instrumental in the demarcation of the villages in the contested area and that the land in question belonged to the villages. The prime minister vowed that under no circumstances would the Ndugai report be read in the national assembly. Instead the government would send another committee to Loliondo to investigate the allegations. (Ndaskoi, 2010)
The District Land Use Plan Revealed in 2011
On 23 November 2009 in an article entitled, ”Maslahi binafsi yanachochea mgogoro Loliondo”, the Habari Leo had reported about OBC’s managing director Isaack Mollel and his suggestions for “solving” the conflict. Mollel complained about the selfish interests of politicians and NGOs inflaming the conflict, about the usual “Kenyans” and others “invading without paying”, the anti-Arab attitude and over too many tour operators in the hunting block which Mollel claimed was a “protected area”. According to the article, Mollel described the hunting block as belonging to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai, with no mention of Al Ali. Mollel declared that OBC was ready to remain with the core hunting area instead of the whole hunting block that’s all of Loliondo Division plus part of Sale, and in this hunting block are many villages, the “towns” of Loliondo and Wasso with the district headquarters, the DC’s office and Wasso District Hospital. The hunting block is a permit to hunt and not to own land, but if Mollel is to be taken seriously he was saying that even the DC had “invaded”. This core hunting area – from where people had been evicted and were planning to return - is a dry season area that would seriously affect people far beyond Loliondo if turned into an exclusive area for OBC. Mollel announced that OBC had given the Office of the Arusha RC TSh.156 million for surveying the land.
On 25 February 2010 the Guardian (DSM) reported that the minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Developments, John Chiligati, had declared that the Government had set aside TSh.157 million for land use planning in Loliondo. Chiligati described converting the 1,500 km2 into a protected area as, “a bid to end the long standing conflict between the two parties” and he introduced the shameless lie that consists of saying, “More land will be taken from the Loliondo Game Controlled Area and given to villages.”
Tension raised in Loliondo and on 6 April 2010 women had started gathering to go to Loliondo town to hand in their CCM member cards as a protest against the threat of creating a “buffer zone” in the dry season grazing area next to Serengeti National Park. They also demanded that the report about the evictions be tabled in parliament, and to be allowed to hold a peaceful demonstration in Loliondo. They had to act since the men had failed to protect the land. In Ololosokwan 400 women had gathered but were warned by the police that they would be fired at if they moved to Loliondo. They neglected the warning and set off, only to be intercepted in Oloipiri where they had to listen to the DC and were put on a truck back to Ololosokwan. Another 60 women coming from Enguserosambu were arrested and interrogated for hours, but 500 women, who had spent the night in the bush near Wasso, reached the CCM office in Loliondo and handed in 1,883 party cards. They negotiated the afternoon with CCM staff that agreed to keep the cards in one box and the women’s leader, Kijoolo Kakiya would take them to Piyaya Village. If their demands were not met by 16 April, the women said they would return, not with just the 1,883 cards but thousands. In response the DC went after NGOs thought to have instigated the protest. On 12 April three male civil society organisation representatives – Samwel Nangiria, Robert Kamakia and Gasper Leboy – were arrested, interrogated and locked up for the night by the Officer Commanding District.
However, threats kept multiplying in several meetings, like one chaired by Chiligati in Loliondo, and at a CCM election campaign meeting Shamsa Mwangunga declared that the government had “resolved” the Loliondo conflict by demarcating areas for pastoralists and areas for the wildlife conservation.
In early December 2010 through a constitutional suit – misc. civil cause no. 15 of 2010 - filed in the High Court of Tanzania by several civil society organisations (LHRC, PINGOs, NGONET and UCRT) to petition the July 2009 evictions. The Attorney General, the Ngorongoro DC, the Officer Commanding District, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism and Otterlo Business Corporation Ltd were named as the defendants. To date nothing has happened with this case since it has been impossible to gather the required quorum of three judges in Arusha.
The new Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ezekiel Maige, visited Ngorongoro District in late December 2010. He held meetings with the CCM District Political Committee and the District Security Committee. The minister also visited the proposed “wildlife corridor” area and did not find environmental destruction, contrary to statements made to justify the “buffer zone”. The minister formed a committee headed by the DC consisting of seven councillors from the wards bordering Serengeti National Park plus the District Natural Resources Officer and the District Community Development Officer. It was now thought that the threat had been averted.
In February 2011 the catastrophic Draft District Land Use Framework Plan 2010-2030 was revealed. This plan not only included the 1,500 km2 of GCA as in Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 – a protected area and a huge land loss – but also proposed several Wildlife Management Areas. A WMA – that while still nominally village land suits foremost the central government, investors and conservation organisations that get more control over the land at the expense of villagers – had been rejected in Loliondo a decade earlier when it was strongly pushed for by Frankfurt Zoological Society and the central government.
The plan was strongly and loudly rejected by the Ngorongoro District Council, and the councillors, some of whom were known to be friends of OBC, held a press conference in Arusha to protest. The district council chairman, Elias Ngorisa, told the press, “We, as the voice of the Loliondo people, do not bless this land use plan. We strongly condemn it and ask our government to view our people as ‘bona fide’ citizens of this country”, “This plan conflicts with the laws of our country. The Village Land Act, 1999 says that any change in the use of village land should be decided by the village general assembly. What ground do these technocrats have to plan for us and, worse still, plan for vacating us from the area?” he wondered.
On 22 July 2011 the village of Ololosokwan received a letter from the District Executive Director’s office acting on a request by the Land Commissioner that demanded the handing in of the title deed for the whole of the village land. The reason for this request was that the Land Commissioner had discovered “conflict between this village and its neighbours” (baada ya kubainika mgogoro kati ya kijiji hiki na majirani zake). A protest delegation from the village went to Dar es Salaam, and Ololosokwan keeps the title deed.
The victims of the evictions re-built their houses and it was thought that the government had been defeated. Some leaders participated in reconciliation ceremonies with OBC. When this blogger visited, a couple of inebriated village leaders told me that they were now friends with OBC that was building them a village office and would never again disturb grazing.
In August 2012 Avaaz launched their “Stop the Serengeti Sell-Off” petition. It was bewildering for leaders that still thought the government was defeated and the petition was so vaguely written that it was signed by some people who were against Maasai land rights. Though soon enough Avaaz’s help would be very much needed.
Kagasheki’s Horrible and Twisted Threat in 2013
On 27 January 2013 the at that time Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Khamis Kagasheki, held a number of “stakeholders” meetings in Loliondo. Attending a “stakeholders” meeting when you, like the Maasai, are a “rightsholder” is a clear warning sign. Kagasheki wanted investors to work together and warned that he could be compelled to ban all human activities in the area.
The last weekend of February 2013 Kagasheki returned to Loliondo with the message that the Game Controlled Area as per Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 was the best “solution” for Loliondo. In the worst Orwellian way, the Minister explained to the media that in fact the Maasai were “landless” and would now be “given” the land that they already occupied – except for the 1,500 km2 “corridor” that would “remain under government control”. The condition for this “offer” would be that the community should form a Wildlife Management Area. The move was described as “addressing historical injustices”. Unfortunately, journalists present lacked the necessary background information or will, to realize that in fact the historical injustice was about to happen if this latest move would be realized.
Then on 21 March after a brief meeting in Arusha with top district leaders Minister Kagasheki showed up again in Loliondo. Local leaders had got information that Kagasheki was sent by the president to announce that the 1,500 km2 corridor would be taken by the government as a Game Controlled Area to protect wildlife and water catchments. The local leaders refused to enter the District Council conference hall to join the minister. Instead they demanded that he should answer questions from people outside the hall. Kagasheki suspended the meeting and took off to Arusha in a fury. The leaders and other citizens who were around waiting for the minister talked to the media to express their views on the matter. Ololosokwan ward councillor Yannick Ndoinyo told journalists, “We are not ready to surrender even one meter of our land to investors for whatever reason” and several other leaders had the same message.
The now de-facto extinct Loliondo Game Controlled Area originated in the 1950s and always existed alongside human activities. Only hunting was regulated and required permits. With the Wildlife Conservation Act of 1974 that regulated hunting everywhere the function of the LGCA changed to limiting the borders of hunting blocks. Then with the Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 there were radical changes and Game Controlled Areas became protected areas where livestock grazing and other human activities were no longer allowed. This kind of change would naturally require gazetting following proper procedures. Big areas all over the country are GCAs at the same time as village land and an automatic conversion to the new kind of protected area would require high levels of state violence and create hordes of internally displaced people, many of whom have already suffered displacement for conservation. The Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 does specify that: “the Minister may after consultation with the relevant local authorities, and by order in the Gazette, declare any area of land in Tanzania to be a game controlled area”; “the Minister shall ensure that no land falling under the village land is included in the game controlled areas”; “shall within twelve months of coming into operation of this act and after consultation of the relevant authorities, review the list of game controlled areas for ascertaining potentially justifying continuation of control of any such area”.
The 2009 Act came into operation in June 2010 and none of the land in Loliondo has been declared a new GCA. There was the proposal that was firmly rejected by the Ngorongoro District Council in February 2011. Kagasheki just made another attempt – using shameless lies.
All land in Loliondo became village land with to the Village Land Act No. 5 of 1999 since it fulfils the following definitions - one definition being sufficient to qualify as village land.
-Land within the boundaries of villages registered according to the Local GovernmentAct,1982.
- Land demarcated as village land under any administrative procedure or in accord with any statutory or customary law.
-General land that villagers have been using for the twelve years preceding the enactment of the Village Land Act. This includes land customarily used for grazing cattle or passage of cattle
Some of the arguments that with Wildlife Conservation Act 2009 Loliondo Game Controlled Area does actually no longer exist are:
-The GCA 2009 has never been declared as specified in the act.
-Land laws take precedence over wildlife laws in matters of land.
-The act clearly states that village land and GCA are no longer allowed to overlap.
Then a GCA 2009 would lead to massive destruction of lives and livelihoods, and have serious environmental knock-on effect in areas far beyond Loliondo, and would therefore also go against the purported wishes of the GCA supporters.
Thousands of people met in Oloipiri on 25 March 2013 and decided to stay united, end any involvement with OBC and, when the government had announced the land grab, to initiate a court case with an injunction plus a reclaim of Serengeti National Park, and that all political leaders, including the MP, would resign from their posts.
On 26 March 2013 in Dar es Salaam Minister Kagasheki announced publicly to journalists that the government would be grabbing the corridor of important grazing land, but in the usual style he said that the government was “keeping” 1,500 km2 and the people of Loliondo would be “given” 2,500 km2 where they would be “helped” to establish Wildlife Management Areas. He added that, “There will be no compromise with regard to any attempt to infringe the newly established borders”. The minister did also warn NGOs and so-called “Kenyans” (the standard accusation against Loliondo activists is to call them “Kenyans”) about inciting the Maasai.
On 1 April 2013 a press statement from the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism titled “Ufafanuzi Kuhusu Tamko la Waziri Kagasheki Kuhusu Eneo la Pori Tengefu la Loliondo”, was released – followed on the 7th by a somewhat differently worded version in English. These statements insisted on the lies that Loliondo Game Controlled Area was a protected area that “landless” people had “invaded” and that the government had taken the decision of reducing the LGCA “to provide land to the growing landless population in the area”. The 1,500 km2 had to remain LGCA to protect breeding grounds, migration corridors and water catchments. The Swahili version added that 25% of the country was protected areas “without conflict”. This version did also detail that the problem in Loliondo was caused by NGOs, many led by “foreigners” whose “secret agendas” had already been exposed.
Avaaz renewed their campaign with a somewhat clearer petition. Survival International, Cultural Survival and Minority Rights Group International also showed support.
A big meeting was planned for 2 April in Wasso, but it was turned into a disappointment. Most councillors had abandoned the resignation promises. There was no declaration made since the meeting had not got a permit. CCM party cards were left littering the ground. Though more meetings followed.
In the midst of this crisis MP Telele left for China as a member of an investor-wooing delegation - led by the Director of Tourism of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
On 4 April several Tanzanian land and human rights organisations issued a joint press statement setting the record straight about the laws governing the 1,500 km2 and about Kagasheki’s deliberate attempt to mislead the public. The statement also emphasised that it’s OBC that’s endangering the environment by its hunting practices and illegal constructions.
Around a thousand women had gathered in Olorien/Magaiduru, camping out and holding meetings. On 6 April a CCM mission led by the deputy secretary general of the party, Mwigulu Nchemba, met with these women and other people that had gathered. The CCM representatives were told in no uncertain terms that the community would fight to the last person for their land and Nchemba’s conclusion was that the government’s decision was contrary to the laws of the land and would adversely affect the local community, and that he would refer the issue to the prime minister.
At the same time representatives of the opposition party, Chadema, were addressing the public at a meeting in Soitsambu. Chadema’s director for Legal and Human Rights Tundu Lissu and shadow minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Peter Msigwa, told villagers to support the opposition party in opposing the government decision.
Kagasheki held a breakfast meeting with ambassadors and representatives of international communities in the country complaining about “37 NGOs” with “hidden interests” in Loliondo. The minster continued with the lies about giving land to landless people. He even pretended to have a disagreement with OBC – the sponsor of the rejected land use plan that proposed the alienation of the 1,500 km2 – as if the company could go to court because of the “reduction” of LGCA. Some three or four Loliondo NGOs are active in this fight and none is led by a foreigner.
The team of advocates from Legal and Human Rights Centre for the petitioners in misc. civil cause no. 15 of 2010 directed on 15 April a letter to Kagasheki warning him that his announcements were contempt of court in the ongoing case, urging him to restrain from implementing his decisions and that “In the event this call is ignored or neglected we shall be forced to institute an application before the court of law against you personally”.
On 13 April some twenty students from Loliondo who had been enrolled at colleges and universities in the Arusha Region returned home for the weekend to assist their people in this time of danger.
OBC’s Isaack Mollel, instead of addressing the Maasai protests, directed his comments in the press to the Avaaz talk about “selling the Serengeti”. The Guardian (DSM) reported, “However, OBC, an UAE multi-million-dollar hunting outfit has refuted claims that it had purchased the wildlife-rich Loliondo Game Controlled Area (LGCA)." “We have neither bought the land, nor conceived such an idea at all because Tanzanian land laws do not allow foreigners to purchase land,” and he went on describing OBC’s big contributions to central and local governments. To the BBC on 18 April Mollel said, "The people communicating for the Maasai are not the Maasai themselves. They make sure that [there is] no clear understanding between the investors and the indigenous people of Loliondo,"
On 18 April a delegation of representatives from Loliondo that had waited some days in Dodoma, and before had been in Dar es Salaam, had a meeting with PM Mizengo Pinda who came from a long meeting with the CCM team that visited Loliondo and, judging from their public statements, sided with the people. The PM agreed that the land does indeed belong to the Maasai and he said that the announcements made by the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism would not be implemented. Though nothing of this was put in any written document and Pinda also “advised” the delegates to establish a WMA. He asked them to wait until he had talked with the president.
In parliament on 30 April opposition parliamentarian Peter Msigwa made a presentation on Loliondo that was dismissed by one CCM legislator after the other. MP Telele stood up and thanked the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism and the government for finding a “solution” to the Loliondo land conflict. This was the final nail in the coffin of Telele’s credibility.
On 16 May 2013 various traditional leaders from Loliondo gathered in Dar es Salaam demanding a meeting with the president. Almost a month had passed since the meeting in Dodoma with the PM who expressed his support and said he would refer the issue to the president. The demands were not met and the delegation headed on to Dodoma to see Pinda. In Dodoma the traditional leaders were joined by other delegations from Loliondo for a long and costly wait until the PM on 30 May issued a letter with the government’s statement to the RC. The letter, which never was mentioned by the RC, and was not meant to be made public, recognised that the land belongs to the Maasai, but was otherwise a disappointment mostly talking about looking into what infrastructure there is in the 1,500 km2.
In an interview about Loliondo in the June 2013 issue of the newsletter for hunters, African Indaba, Prof. Markus Borner – who until recently had been head of the Africa programme of FZS and was still a board member – showed a surprising ignorance about both Tanzanian law and the situation on the ground. Borner’s comments came after he had spent 30 years in Seronera in Serengeti National Park, and is out-of-touch assessment of the acute threat was, “the present proposal seems a good way forward”.
On 2 September 2013 a delegation sent by the Ministry for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Developments held a meeting with councillors and civil society organisation representatives at Ngorongoro District Council. Isaac Marwa, the Principal Surveyor of this ministry, is reported to have said that there was no choice - after internal long discussions between the prime minister and the ministers for Natural Resources and Tourism and for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Developments the government had agreed to abandon its proposal of taking 1,500 km2 bordering Serengeti National Park. He added that the issue of Loliondo had attracted long discussions and campaigns across the world, including damaging the image of the nation, and they had decided to appreciate that the land belongs to the villages. A team of eight people would make a survey of the villages of Loliondo and Sale led by councillors and village leaders and monitored by CSOs.
On 3 September the surveying team started with Sukenya and Mondorosi. The following morning when going to continue on to Nginye, Njoroi and Kirtalo the team was told to stop and immediately return to Dar es Salaam. The council chairman who phoned the Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Developments said that he had been told that the night before the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism had issued a complaint wanting the survey stopped. The minister said that the district council should follow up with the prime minister and the president and not with her.
On 22-23 September PM Pinda visited Loliondo, and on the 22nd Pinda and an entourage including Anna Tibaijuka, the Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development and Lazaro Nyalandu, Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism (future minister) landed at OBC’s airstrip and then visited various projects in Ololosokwan and other villages. According to reports, the PM had not said anything at all in Ololosokwan.
On the 23 September Wasso was overflowing with people who wanted to hear what the prime minister had to say. In an emotional speech the PM told them that the plan of taking 1.500 km2 was scrapped, that the land was theirs and for their coming generations – and that the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism would not be allowed to bother them anymore. They were asked to continue with their lives as before Kagasheki’s statements.
This was the end of the Kagsheki-style 1,500 km2 grab attempt. The Tanzanian government has since not made any public statements – at all – announcing any interest in taking land in Loliondo.
The Confusion in 2014
In April 2014 a bango kitita – matrix document or log frame – based on the prime minister’s visit in September, was seen by some people in Loliondo. Surprisingly, this bango kitita spelled out the government’s continued “need” to take this land. There was a strange silence and few people have seen this bango kitita.
Then Nyalandu, the new Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism started holding closed meetings with Loliondo councillors, and is said to have been threatening. On 27 July the District Council Chairman, Elias Ngorisa, met with Nyalandu in Arusha and was reportedly told that President Kikwete had instructed the minister to take the 1,500 km2. Later the same day and at the same hotel, the African Tulip, the minister met with OBC’s general manager, Isaack Mollel. Still no action was taken. Not even meetings to inform the public. Suspicious rumours started circulating. The district chairman was known to have been close to OBC – even praising the company in interviews in 2011 – until he changed during the Kagasheki crisis in 2013, and after that consistently spoke up against the investors.
On Saturday 30 August Nyalandu flew into Loliondo to meet with the councillors of the wards affected by the 1,500 km2. The councillors did not share many details, but what’s been told is that the minister was, according to those present, very threatening – talking about Game Controlled Area, Game Reserve and National Park - and after he left OBC’s Mollel and several other representatives for the hunters entered to make promises. Later it has transpired Nyalandu also talked about TSh 1 billion of compensation money. OBC requested a meeting with the councillors for 13 September and were told to also include CSOs, village leaders and traditional leaders. The relative silence about this meeting worsened the mistrust.
After Nyalandu’s visit CSO representatives moved around to inform people about the threat while OBC were moving around pushing for the villages to sign a new MoU with them that would pay TSh 120,000,000 per year per village in exchange for making bylaws for the protection of the environment and tourism hunting, for prohibiting people from the village and neighbouring country to “invade”, or for anyone to make permanent constructions inside an unspecified hunting area.
More meetings followed. It was made clear that nothing had been signed with OBC, but the silence about Nyalandu did not make suspicions go away. Eventually on 25 September there was a big collision, but ultimately the councillors went open with that they had been given TSh 300,000 each as “sitting allowance” at a meeting with OBC’s general manager, but had not signed any document at all about the village land. The meeting concluded that councillors and chairmen had ironed out their differences.
The council chairman was ordered to meet Minister Nyalandu on 13 October in Arusha. There was information that the minister was going to announce compensation money at the meeting. People thought that the chairman would be corrupted and pressured him to refuse going to the meeting and to leave Arusha as soon as possible, which is what he did.
On 3 November there was a district council meeting to discuss the threat. Alarmingly a couple of leaders, led by the councillor for Oloipiri, William Alais, refused to attend or to follow the recommendations that were reached. Besides William Alais there were the chairmen of Oloipiri and Orkuyaine – and Gabriel Killel of the NGO Kidupo, who had recently become “investor-friendly”. The chairmen of Sukenya, Soitsambu. Ilopolun and Oldonyowas, who come from the same Laitayok section - that has often been used for divide and rule - did not follow Alais’ example.
Avaaz renewed the petition and the Guardian (UK) wrote that the government of Tanzania was backtracking on its promise to “40,000 Masai 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”. Somehow the intents at buying off local leaders even led the British press to write that there was an eviction notice and that “the Masai have been ordered to quit their traditional lands by the end of the year”, which was false information. Nobody in Loliondo had heard of such an eviction notice. Many articles of the same kind followed and it seems to be the version of events that some international organisations now believe in.
Both BBC Swahili and BBC English interviewed Minister Nyalandu on 18 November. The minister said that everything about evicting Maasai was a malicious lie and that he had visited Loliondo to talk about land use planning. He was not asked why he, and not the minister for lands, would be doing this.
A delegation from Loliondo consisting of political and traditional leaders, and women’s representatives travelled to Dodoma. On 18 and 19 November some councillors: notably the council chairman and the councillors for Soitsambu and Arash, plus the CCM chairman of the district tried in vain to meet PM Pinda. The delegation issued a press release protesting Nyalandu’s statements and making some demands like a written statement with the PM’s earlier promises from 23 September 2013, the revocation of LGCA as should already have been done according to Wildlife Conservation Act 2009, the resumption of the land use planning abruptly stopped in early September 2013 after the complaint from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (there are differing opinions about bow useful this request is) and the stopping of tourist hunting in Loliondo, adding that if the Pinda fails to fulfil his promises they will have to engage the world and reach his office in thousands. They said they believe in peaceful means, but have lost their patience, and their land will never be taken for the benefit of OBC. The “eviction notice” was not mentioned, since it did not exist. This statement, unlike the imagined eviction notice, did not have much repercussion in the press.
On 18 November 2014 the Jamhuri newspaper published a letter from William Alais, the councillor for Oloipiri, to Mary Nagu, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office for Investment and Empowerment. The councillor complained about NGOs that are stirring things up when “the people of Oloipiri ward” want to work with investors like OBC and Thomson Safaris (that maintain a violent occupation of 12,617 acres of Maasai land). The only thing making sense in Alais’ letter was a request for grazing rights in the national park. Without this, keeping the councillor’s dangerous and demanding “investor” friends happy would be quite unsustainable. The Jamhuri’s writer Manyerere Jackton regularly writes about Loliondo in an extremely inciting style painting the Purko and Loita sections, and the Loliondo NGO’s, as destructive and “Kenyan”. On 6 November 2014 the Jamhuri published one more such article, “Wakenya waingiza mifugo hifadhi ya Serengeti” (Kenyans enter cattle into Serengeti NP) under the fake Maasai-sounding name “Adam ole Timan” (no such journalist exists in Tanzania) and on 28 November the article, “Loliondo yageuzwa Kenya” (Loliondo becomes Kenya) argued that 70 percent of the population of Loliondo was not Tanzanian. Manyerere has written more than 15 articles inciting against the Loliondo Maasai.
On 23 November 2014 President Kikwete tweeted, “There has never been, nor will there ever be any plan by the Government of #Tanzania to evict the #Maasai people from their ancestral land.” The first part is an obvious lie since there were extrajudicial evictions in 2009, the proposed land use plan in 2010/2011 and Kagasheki’s threats in 2013. Otherwise it’s word against word about Nyalandu’s visits to Loliondo. Some international organisations think that the tweet was a reversal of the 2014 “eviction notice” that never was.
Division worsened with the councillors for three of the seven wards affected by OBC – Oloipiri, Olorien/Magaiduru and Loosoito/Maaloni – becoming more loud about their support for the “investor”.
On 4 December there was a big meeting in Kirtalo. The RC had declared that a permit was needed and the DC that it would not be granted, but the meeting went on. Elders cursed the “investor-friendly” group and it was agreed that the public would deal with misbehaving politicians. In the morning before this meeting Samwel Nangiria, coordinator of Ngonet, was taken for lengthy police interrogations, and a fully accredited (not that journalists often are, or need to be, but this one was, contrary to what the DC told BBC Swahili) international freelance journalist, Emily Johnson, was ordered to leave Loliondo.
On 6 December Minister Nyalandu flew to Loliondo and visited Oloipiri and Maaloni together with 25 journalists, most of whom did not have any background information. The minister informed the press that he would not hesitate to oust any investor, institution or NGO that instigated conflict in the hunting area, and he again declared that the British newspaper the Guardian was lying about Loliondo instead of addressing what the councillors, whom he had met the past months, had to say, even in their press release. The councillor for Maaloni addressed the press saying that there was agreement between three of seven wards and OBC.
On 12 December Nyalandu locked himself up with seven councillors and two NGO representatives. The DC did not allow the women’s representatives, Tina Timan and Maanda Ngoitiko to attend. It was reported that Nyalandu went on and on about living in harmony with the investor.
Better news on the 12th was that some Laitayok traditional leaders held a press meeting shown on ITV denouncing William Alais’ article in the Jamhuri and the attempts at separating the Laitayok from the rest of the Maasai in the struggle for the land as a stand by some politicians and elites, and not the community. The laigwanak were, "Nasindol, Sumare, Siiya and others”.
In a confused article in the RAI on 18 December MP Telele lashed out against the NGOs saying they should be investigated by the government, adding that DCs should have military background. He also expressed the wish that Nyalandu should involve him when going to Loliondo. In this article Long’oi, “investor-friendly” councillor for Maaloni says that people are stirring things up for personal benefit and without any reason since Village Land Act No. 5 of 1999 does not allow the land to be sold. Then in the same article OBC’s Isaack Mollel, as many times before, contradicts his “friend” Long’oi and claims that Loliondo is “protected land” belonging to the government - not village land.
On 21 December there was a meeting of councillors and NGOs. Things were ugly and the councillors of Oloipiri, Loosoito/Maaloni and Olorien/Magaiduru together with Gabriel Killel of Kidupo insisted on working with OBC and the government - and not according to the Oloipiri declaration of 25 March 2013.
On 8 January 2015 Channel 10 ran a programme about Loliondo, hosted by the reporter Jerry Muro, that could have been produced by OBC themselves. The incitement against the Maasai was very similar to the style of Manyerere Jackton in the Jamhuri. Some interviewees were the councillor for Olorien/OBC employee, Marekani, and Parapara William who used to be a respected opposition politician that suddenly switched to the governing party and was elected chairman of Wasso, and also turned into a big friend of OBC. OBC’s managing director Isaack Mollel was of course included. According to this programme the problem in Loliondo was “Kenyans” and NGOs. Land rights weren't touched upon and instead there were mentions of an “investor area”. The only NGO representative that was allowed to say anything was the by this time totally” investor-friendly” Gabriel Killel of Kidupo. People like the councillor for Soitsambu and an immigration officer were only asked about citizenship issues. OBC’s Mollel, besides talking about his company’s development projects, illegal Kenyans, and useless NGOs, again claimed that land belongs to the government and not to the Maasai.
On 22 January some NGO representatives held a press conference in Arusha to set the record straight and protest against the increased presence in media of seriously misleading and probably OBC-sponsored “journalism”.
On 5 February a meeting was held between the DC, the Commissioner of Immigration, the Director of Borders from the Immigration Department HQ and officials from the Ministries of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, and Natural Resources and Tourism. The meeting ended with a resolution of having the Immigration Department undertake an intelligence scanning and give feedback to the government on whether Kenyans are in Loliondo or not.
10-14 February 2015 Serengeti National Park rangers together with Loliondo administrative police set fire to 114 permanent bomas in areas of Arash, and Maaloni. The rangers argued that they had orders from above and that the bomas were inside Serengeti National Park. Many people, children included, were left without food, shelter, or medical services. On the 18th the RC visited the border with Kenya and flew over the national park boundary. The same day he visited Ololosokwan where he told the villagers that their land was safe and that they should disregards ideas that they would be “Kenyans”. The following day the RC visited the Irmolelian area of Arash where he ordered people to leave the areas inside the park within 14 days, and announced that NGOs that had brought journalists would be dealt with. Researchers found that the bomas had been inside the park according to the boundaries marked by hills. Though most of them would be outside the park according to an unidentified boundary marked by stone piles. People had been living in the area for years.
OBC had not been involved in the eviction of February 2015, but several international organisations published articles saying that this was the case and that the Maasai had now been evicted, to “make way for lion hunting” was added in one article, while a press release by another organisation claimed that bomas had been burned in Ololosokwan.
On 28 March Channel 10 aired another documentary inciting against the people of Loliondo featuring the RC on his visit to Loliondo, the director of TANAPA, the “investor-friendly” councillor for Maaloni and OBC’s managing director.
The first half of April 2015 an anti-Kenyan team made up of police, KDU anti-poaching squads, Immigration, Usalama wa Taifa (intelligence and security service), Wildlife Department from Dar es Salaam, Field Force Unit and Magereza (prisons) toured Loliondo villages arresting those suspected of being Kenyan or of holding Kenyans. In Kirtalo the team was joined by OBC rangers and ten Laitayok from Oloipiri councillor William Alais’ investor-friendly group whose victims were seriously beaten. Five Kenyans (real ones from the Republic of Kenya that’s within walking distance) were jailed for six months and fined TSh. 100,000. Several meetings were held across the border in Kenya and decisions were made to close the border in response to the mistreatment. Tanzanian children were prevented from returning to their schools in Kenya, and the Kenyans attempted to prevent Loliondo Maasai from accessing cattle markets across the border. After more meetings the cross-border issue cooled down.
On 21 April the Jamhuri ran another article inciting against the Maaasai of Loliondo. This time the article contained the names of 280 “Kenyans” in Loliondo, including Kundai Parmwat who was councillor for Soitsambu for 10 years. The article lashes out against the NGOs that speak up for land rights, calling them “Kenyan”. Though the only example of a Kenyan NGO person in this article was special seats councillor Tina Timan who is married to a former MP, has lived in Tanzania for over 25 years, has six Tanzanian children – and does actually, according to all asked, not work for any NGO at all.
On 27 April the Raia Mwema joined in. In a strange editorial this paper called for the government’s support for the new DC, Hashim Mgandilwa, in the work against Kenyan invaders and against the imaginary almost 40 international NGOs in Loliondo that are helping the Kenyans to undermine conservation.
On 3 May 2015 two corrupt policemen that had with impunity been extorting money from people for a long time were beaten up by warriors at Ololosokwan market. This led to mass arrests, including of several leaders that have spoken up against OBC - or were thought to be against OBC. The leaders, including the councillors for Ololosokwan and Soitsambu, were released without charges, but not before being forced to walk barefoot in front of police vehicles the 8 kilometres from Wasso to Loliondo. The DC was trying to make some point and told the press that the leaders had planned the attack since they were opposed to the anti-Kenyan operation.
On 15 May 2015 the councillor of Oloipiri, William Alais, together with the chairman of Oloipiri village and the Officer Commanding District came to Kirtalo market telling people not to graze their animals in the Indashat area claiming that it is in Oloipiri. Those addressed refused since the area is disputed. Indashat, like Karkamoru market that OBC want to close down, was inside Kirtalo sub-village and should therefore now be in Kirtalo village, but the OBC-friendly councillor for Oloipriri is said to want the area with the hunters inside his ward. The following day three men Oleketuyuo Ngume, Ndalii Seret and Ngingir Naing'isa together with his 7-year-old son, were caught in Indashat while they were grazing and taken to Loliondo “town” where they had to spend the night in a cell. In the evening the police with the OCD fired shots at three bomas in Kirtalo making some people run away in panic. Around 30 children were lost, but fortunately found during the night.
The three arrested men, and one boy, were released on the 17th. The same day there was a crisis meeting in Kirtalo attended by some 400 Purko. The DC attended and to calm down the situation he said he’d remove Laitayok bomas from the area within three days. The meeting continued on the 18th, even after the DC phoned the chairman of Kirtalo trying to stop it.
To the press the DC lied that he had ordered a state of emergency due to infiltration of dangerous arms, and that people from Kirtalo were out to wage war on Oloipiri. He also talked about the porous border and an invasion of aliens from Kenya.
On 21 May there was a meeting between Kirtalo and Oloipiri, together with the DC, to solve the conflict, and there was an agreement that the bomas in Indashat should be removed. That’s one Laitayok and one Purko boma. Grazing should go on as usual. The DC left the boundary issue to the villages since it was beyond his scope.
In July 2014 it had been announced that the UAE Red Crescent had started work on drilling 20 wells in Loliondo and the project – part of the Water Aid (Suqia) initiative, launched by Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, and assisted on the ground by OBC - was handed over, by the current ambassador Abdullah Ibrahim Al-Suwaidi, with much fanfare and media coverage on 19 May 2015. The press tried to paint some local leaders as supporting OBC, when they were at the handing over because of the UAE ambassador. Besides divide and rule tactics OBC use development projects, such as water projects, to gain support. Roads, bridges, a dispensary, and schools, like Loliondo Secondary School have been built by the company. Though some of these projects, like the improvements at Wasso District Hospital and its guesthouse, are being mixed up with aid from the United Arab Emirates undertaken by the former ambassador to Tanzania Maj. General Mallallah Mubarak.
OBC's camp was up and running, but nobody thought there would be guests until after the elections. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai did come for a visit with an entourage of 137 people 24-29 September 2015. Photos of two planes of considerable size at OBC's airstrip appeared in social media and soon baseless accusations that Sheikh Mohammed would have been allowed to leave with some giraffes were directed at the governing party. There hasn’t been any evidence of OBC shipping out live animals since the 90s and nobody in Loliondo had seen such a thing now, but this didn't prevent some people – wanting to attack CCM - from trying to pass off photos of captured giraffes in South Africa and a runaway giraffe in Italy, both of the wrong subspecies, as were they from Loliondo. Someone also used photoshop to put a captured giraffe next to Sheikh Mohammed's plane. Some live animals, giraffes included, were taken to Qatar - not Dubai - in 2010 - not 2015- from Kilimanjaro International Airport - not Loliondo. CCM supporters countered with claiming that the airstrip was not in Loliondo, but in Mozambique... Loliondogate seems very present in Tanzanian minds that have not even noticed the brutal extrajudicial evictions in 2009, OBC's funding of the draft land use plan that proposed the 1,500 km2 land grab in 2010/2011, or Kagasheki's twisted threats in 2013 that were revoked by the PM, but still not put in writing.
After the 2015 elections, the new MP for Ngorongoro is William Olenasha, which is a radical improvement since he has always been very supportive in the land struggle. Of the “investor-friendly” councillors only William Alais of Oloipiri remains. The behaviour of the new councillors is yet to be seen. President Magufuli has so far not made any anti-pastoralist statements.
The Maasai of Loliondo keep the 1,500 km2 next to Serengeti National Park. A written version of the PM’s promises from 23 September 2013 is needed, but even with such a document the Maasai would have to stay vigilant since their land is sought after by many.
I’ve got most information about the early days from Navaya ole Ndaskoi, and about later years from various people who do not wish to be named. There are also some papers, and hundreds of newspaper articles of varying quality about this issue, many of which will be listed in the longer version.
To complete the longer version, I need some documents that I’ve spent years asking for, among other things…