Wardens raze 114 bomas, thousands stranded
Posted on Feb 16, 2015
Serengeti rangers burn Maasai villages in Ngorongoro district
More than three thousand residents of Arash, Loosoito and Maaaloni villages in Ngorongoro District have been left homeless after the Serengeti National Park security rangers burned 114 Maasai bomas leaving them without necessary supplies.
Journalists visiting the area yesterday witnessed groups of women and children moaning and showing fear as fully armed park rangers continued burning other bomas in nearby villages.
Narrating the ordeal to the press, traditional elders said burning of their homes is outrageous, irreparable losses in their lives, and the government should intervene immediately to save the situation.
“This is our homeland. Our fathers were placed here after they were evicted from Serengeti in an agreement way back in 1959 between the colonial government and the community during the establishment of the Serengeti National Park. We have lost almost everything, ’’said Peter Meleton.
Meleton said the agreement stipulated clearly that the Maasai will not face any other evictions from their land and wondered why it is happening now. He blamed the park management for conducting the operation and treating common harmless citizens as criminals.
“Those who showed signs of protest were forced to get out of their houses by force and at times pointing a gun and threatened to be killed if they refused to obey orders,” he elaborated.
Another elder, Kantuli Lekakin said the exercise has been going on as a military operation, as we heard a lot of gunfire in the village for several hours yesterday.
Traditional leaders from three villages maintained that even though their homes have been turned into ashes, they will not leave the area because it is their heritage.
“We will not leave, even by an inch. We are willing to die for our land; our community has lived in oppression, injustice and has continued to be poor. But enough is enough, no quitting,” insisted Kantuli.
He said they are 5 to 10km away from the park border; however park authorities claim the villagers are living one kilometer into the park area.
For his part William Sayelek said his boma was torched with the entire food produce inside, and now his children have nothing to eat.
“The operation was brutal. They sometimes shot into the air causing great confusion in the whole village. We need food, temporary shelters and medical services to survive,” he stated.
Families are now living under trees and children have started getting sick due to cold weather, the villager noted.
Speaking on behalf of women, Noorki Saruni, a resident of Arash, said women and children are starving and facing health complications resulting from food shortages.
“I lost seventy kilograms of maize, milk and bread dough. The situation is getting worse every minute. Our government should help us,” she said.
According to the Park rangers who could not avail their names to the media for fear of being victimised, the Serengeti National Park management is conducting the operation to remove villagers who have put permanent settlements near the border of the park.
However the Maasai were quick to refute the claims saying this is a government move to allocate their ancestral land to the Arab Emirate royal family for hunting.
Serengeti chief park warden William Mwakilema told The Guardian on Sunday in brief responses by phone that the burned bomas were inside the Serengeti National Park.
“We have documentary evidence on what we did. We are protecting the park; these pastoralists have been bringing large group of livestock to graze inside the park. We are clearing them out,” the warden affirmed.
15th February 2015