In Tanzania, Masai condemns the conversion of their land into a place reserved for tourists

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Thousands of Masai living in Loliondo, northern Tanzania, had to flee their homes after clashes with police on June 10, as the government sought to turn their land into a nature reserve for luxury tourism. In the past, there have been clashes between the government and the Masai in this area, who consider it their ancestral land.

Dozens of Masai are running through a field in a video taken in the Loliondo area of ​​a town in northern Tanzania near the park on June 10 when shots are heard from a distance. Serengeti National.

On June 3, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism announced that it wanted to convert 1,500 km of the area into a reserve, which would prohibit living there. According to Masai leaders, 70,000 people were at risk of deportation.

The announcement is part of a larger project involving the displacement of an additional 80,000 masais to reclassify land in the region, protect it and develop tourism there.


Police arrived in the Loliondo area on June 7 to install beacons, so that the place could be converted into a protected area and its residents evacuated. The area is believed to have been leased to a Dubai company specializing in luxury tourism and recreational hunting for wealthy tourists in the UAE.

On June 9, dozens of Masai began protesting against marking the area.

“People spend the night in the bushes for fear of persecution and threats”

Lemayan (pseudonym) is a Masai activist and Loliondo’s human rights defender. He fled the area after June 10, although he was not in the village at the time of the incident. He is currently in Kenya, where he is seeking asylum. He testified on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.

On June 10 many policemen and soldiers came to our village, I was told. They threatened everyone – even children – and opened fire on the forest. Those who are still there can no longer stay at home. After June 10, they begin to spend their days in the bushes, returning home shortly after dark. Nowadays, however, they even spend the night in the bushes for fear of persecution and threats.

We have tried to protest and want to prevent beacons from being planted on our land. We have tried to bring the community together with local leaders. We have also sent a report to the government proposing an operating model that will help save our area and our livestock. In vain.

Members of Loliondo’s Masai community have messages such as ‘Stop Loliondo land grabbing’, ‘Masai Live Matter’, and ‘We have nowhere to go’. Forest People’s Program

On the evening of June 9, Masai protesters removed the beacons. The next day, police used tear gas and opened fire on them, according to a statement from the Forest People’s Program.

The video, posted on Twitter on June 9, shows Masai gathering to protest the demarcation of their land, which is set to become a reserve.

At least 31 people were injured in the June 10 clashes, according to various organizations. Of Pictures posted on social media (Caution, tragic picture) and show the injured people sent by our editorial staff.

An eyewitness told the British daily The Guardian that police opened fire on protesters, destroying their property and stealing their livestock. Ten Masai leaders were also arrested for opposing the expulsion, and one policeman was killed.

Masai nomadic herdsmen, mainly from southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. In the past, they have clashed with the Tanzanian government over land issues. In 2017, for example, the government has already expelled residents living in the Loliondo area who were supposed to become a reserve. At that time 6,700 people became homeless. They then appealed and were able to return home.

For its part, the government has repeatedly denied allegations that they are forcing the Masai from their land.

“The end is the extinction of our people.”

According to Lemayan, the government has not proposed a solution for people living in an area of ​​1,500 square kilometers that is supposed to become a reserve. Beyond the question of land, he believes it is at stake that the survival of the Masai people is at stake.

The people of my village are small herdsmen. If our animals can no longer graze on this land, we will soon have no more cows and we will live in poverty. We can no longer take our children to school and feed them.

Once we were evicted from our land nothing was said about how we would be helped. There is no compensation. We are like orphans. The result is the extinction of our people.

Most people in our community have fled to other parts of the country or to Kenya. But our land is where they know to live. When someone who grew up in a village finds himself in the city, he gets lost, it’s a shock. Here in Kenya I am now an asylum seeker, trying to find peace. I can try to find a job or a place to live, but I’m not sure if I can find the life I’ve had before.

In fact, our editorial team found no sign of any official proposal regarding a place where Loliondo residents could be relocated. We have also failed to contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.

Authorities, however, have offered various possible locations to relocate Masai living in Nogorangoro, a neighboring area reclassified on a “voluntary” basis. But researchers at the Oakland Institute say the proposed sites lacked the resources they needed – water, land for grazing, and so on. Moreover, despite the official statement that thousands of Masai are going to relocate voluntarily, 11,000 of them have signed a letter stating that they “want to live on the land[ils] Before[aient] Protected for centuries and that[ils] Considered[aient] As [leur] Single room “.

“We’ve lived here for decades, this is where we graze our animals and coexist with nature.”

According to the government, Masai is increasing the population and harming its livestock environment. But Masai opposes the allegation, as Lemayan explains:

With us, wild animals roam freely, we coexist together. Across the Serengeti [un parc national qui est déjà une réserve, NDLR], People prey on them. Masai do not hunt, so we pose no threat to animals and the ecosystem. But instead of congratulating us for it, we are being threatened.

We have lived here for decades, this is where we graze our animals and coexist with nature. How can they hunt people and become enemies of nature and animals and still expect tourists?

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