Wednesday 14 March 2018

TANZANIA: Loliondo Village Evictions From Ngorongoro, Arusha Region

Loliondo village is situated in Ngorongoro District of Arusha Region in Northern Tanzania.

Together with neighbouring Wasso village, it hosts the district offices and forms the commercial centre of Loliondo division.

Loliondo is the seat of the current District Commissioner for Ngorongoro.

The ethnic make-up of the entire area was traditionally Maasai with pastoralism the main land-use.

In more recent years the Chaga and Warusha ethnic groups have increased, leading to an increase in cultivation in the valley which the village occupies.

There is also a significant population of Sonjo agro-pastoralists due to the Sonjo majority in areas to the east.

Loliondo is the site of the miracle cure administered by Ambilikile Mwasapile, a retired pastor from the Lutheran Church known as Babu wa Loliondo which means Loliondo Grandfather.

The cure is said to apply to all incurable diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, ulcers, hypertension, and diabetes.

The curing plant is called Carissa edulis from the Apocynaceae family.

It has been there since ancient times and is found in Arabia, tropical Africa, the Transvaal, Botswana, and Namibia in warm bushveld and scrub.

On 13 August 2017, rangers started to evict people and livestock from 1,500 square kilometres of land in Loliondo, Northern Tanzania.

Houses and bomas or homesteads were burned. The evictions were taking place during an extreme drought.

A hunting company from the United Arab Emirates, Otterlo Business Corporation, has exclusive hunting rights in an area of 400,000 hectares to the east of the Serengeti National Park.

For many years, OBC has been lobbying the Tanzanian government to turn the 1,500 square kilometre area, into a protected area. This is the area in which OBC organises its hunts.

In November 2016, OBC put out a report titled “Loliondo GCA Is Diminishing”. The report states that:

As a result of environmental destruction and human intrusion some animal species like cats, lions and buffalos disappeared and/or very difficult to find.

This has adversely impacted on the hunting activities, especially the quality of trophies and their availability.

But the land is the ancestral land of the Maasai. They have been resisting eviction from Loliondo since OBC was granted hunting rights in 1992.

In 2009, Maasai homes were burned and livestock lost during forced evictions. The then-UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, produced a report about the evictions.

Anaya’s report describes serious human rights abuses:

More than two hundred bomas were completely burnt, as were the possessions and food supplies found within the bomas and in the nearby crop fields.

The evictions impacted more than 20,000 pastoralists, many of whom have taken refuge in temporary bomas around Oljorooibort near the border between Arash and Maaloni villages.

The evicted villagers were left homeless and without food, clothing, land, water, medical and other basic social needs.

Over 50,000 head of cattle belonging to the villagers, and comprising their primary economic activity, were left without grazing land or water due to the burning of grazing land and exclusion from traditional grazing areas.

Violence was used against village inhabitants. Specifically, one woman was repeatedly raped by a police officer during the eviction process.

Four others who were pregnant suffered miscarriages, reportedly as a result of the violence which took place during the eviction.

Men were chained, beaten, and humiliated in front of their families and fellow village residents. Some individuals, including 16 youth, were detained.

In the chaos that ensued, many family members, including children, were separated from one another. At least three children remain missing.

The Government denied that any violence or rape resulted from the evictions and has accused both village residents and journalists of inventing facts related to the evictions.

Susanna Nordlund said:

While writing I was told that five some say nine bomas had already been burned in the Oloosek area and that next they would be burned in Ng’ambo.

The rangers are identified as being from the Serengeti National Park Authority, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, and the police from Loliondo are also involved. Some say there were some unidentified rangers as well

Most of the victims had gone to the Sunday market in Ololosokwan. The suffering by people already hit by the extreme drought isn’t possible to imagine.

Rangers have reportedly told people in Oleng’usa, near OBC’s camp, to move out.

Last week, rangers shot Pormoson Ololoso in the legs and arm, after he was found grazing his cows in the Serengeti National Park.

He and two other men were caught grazing their cattle and park rangers extracted money from them.

The next morning, as they were leaving the park, the rangers wanted more money. The herders refused to pay. The shooting took place in the Oloosek area, which is well outside the National Park.

Pormoson was hit in both thighs and his left arm. He was taken to hospital.

Nordlund says that by 14 August 2017, about 70 bomas have been extrajudicially burned to the ground. I never thought this could happen again, like this, after 2009, says.

Who can stop it? I don’t have words for the terror and those who have the words would not dare to be quoted.

Long standing conflicts in Loliondo District have forced more than eight investor firms to pack their bags and flee from the former Game Controlled Area, which is mapped within the Ngorongoro District, it has been learnt.

A statement from the Loliondo Division's Tourism Of-ficer, Mr Elibariki Bajuta, revealed that in the last five years, eight companies that used to operate in the area, packed and left.

We had 12 firms operating here but now Loliondo is left with only four and even these are taking precautions.

Mr Bajuta who was presenting his report before the Arusha Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Mrisho Gambo, lashed at continued civil strife among local communities as well as hostility towards investors and newcomer as can be clearly seen emanating from the natives.

Many of the conflicts in Loliondo are caused by mis-understanding between livestock grazers, famers and inves-tors, especially where proper or essentially improper, land use is concerned.

Investors in Loliondo are also far from being at harmony with each other, as some conduct game hunting while others would rather not hear guns because their trade targets wildlife based tourism which relies on strict conservation.

Farmers and livestock grazers also scramble for land and the fact that there is the long-reigned strife between the Maasai of the Loita clan against the Batemi (Sonjo) community in the area.

Mr Bajuta complained that the absence of investors in the area will take major toll on development projects, community services and social wellbeing for the local residents.

Some of the currently existing firms operating in Loliondo include the Conservation Cooperation Africa through its 'And Beyond,' establishment which runs the Kleins Camp at Ololosokwan.

Others include the Ortello Business Cooperation (OBC), hunting firm from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Thomson Safaris and Buffalo Camping Safaris.

Between them, the four investor firms have been contributing more than 11.3 billion/- for the last three years.

Ortello Business Cooperation leads the park by pumping in 7.8 billion/- in revenues, followed by Thomson Safaris with 1.8 billion/- figure and the 'And Beyond' (Kleins) with 1.5 billion/-. Buffalo slots about 240 million/-.

The aforementioned investment firms employ about 500 local residents together.

Loliondo is one of the three divisions making up the Ngorongoro District, other being Sale and Ngorongoro.

During his recent trip to Ngorongoro, the Prime Minister, Mr Kassim Majaliwa, had directed Mr Gambo to ensure that all conflicts and mayhem in Loliondo are brought to an end.

Tourism Observer

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