Tanzania to sell ancestral lands


MCT Photography

A petition has been started online to raise support against the sale of the land on the activism website Avaaz.org. “Two million people around the world have backed the Masai’s call for president Jakaya Kikwete to fulfill his promise to let them stay where they’ve always lived,” Avaaz campaign director Alex Wilks said to ‘The Guardian’. “Treating the Masai as the great unwanted would be a disaster for Tanzania’s reputation.”

Anthony Popenoe

Tanzania’s government plans to sell land to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The 40,000 Masai tribes-people who live on the land will be evicted by the end of the year. The Masai rejected the one billion shillings ($590,000) offered in return.

“I feel betrayed,” Masai civil society group coordinator Samwel Nangiria said to ‘The Guardian’. “One billion is very little and you cannot compare that with land. It’s inherited. Their mothers and grandmothers are buried in that land. There’s nothing you can compare with it.”

The government rejected a plan to sell the land last year. However, they recently decided to instead go through with the plan and sell the 936 square miles as hunting land for the UAE royal family.

“The British moved us 50 years ago from what is now the Serengeti park, and subsequent governments have consistently restricted our grazing rights,” Maasai elder Lekakui Kanduli said to ‘CNN’.

Masai representatives resist the sale and claim it as a threat to their way of life. Some activists have received threats for opposing the sale, but they are maintaining their conviction.

“I will fight for my community. I’m more energetic than I was,” Nangiria said.