Sunday, February 22, 2015

A pile of animal hides used as sleeping pads are the only few items that can be spotted around Arash, Loosoito and Maaaloni villages in Ngorongoro District following the recent eviction  that saw bomas burnt to ashes.
Homeless families living under the tree
From a distance one can only see a few sacks, sleeping mats and water buckets hanging from tree branches as you approach the area that has been dotted with ashes
Residents say the area is too moist to put their few belongings on ground and the condition gives children sleepless nights.
Though young children looked un- disturbed by the situation, one could paint a picture of how they endure the extremely cold Ngorongoro weather during the night.
Sleeping under tree or maybe on tall tree branches for elders as a way to protect their families from wild animals, could be the only imagination.
When this reporter visited the villages recently he found the hungry children, women and old men striving to meet their ends.
“We have no food, blankets, cooking utensils, cloths. Everything was burnt. The government has burned our homes, everything we owned and abandoned us” William Seyelek, a traditional Masaai elder said.
Seyelek said they have vowed not to leave their land despite the government directives because, the area belongs to them.
“We belong here, our forefathers lived and were buried here. We cannot forsake them this time that they are no longer with us. We will fight if not for us but for their sake” he said.
He said they will fight for their rights and set a history for their generation because their relocation from Serengeti National Park to the area was an agreement between them and the British government way back during colonialism.
 Some villagers who talked to The Guardian on Sunday said they live in horrible conditions especially after the brutal acts were carried out during the rainy seasons.
A Maaaloni villager who preferred anonymous said she has been left homeless with a family of eight. “My children cannot sleep at night and always complain of coldness because we do not have even bed sheets let alone blankets” she said.
The conflict area saw Tanzanian National Parks security rangers burning Masaai people’s bomas on February 12 this year has left more than three thousand residents homeless has been in dispute for over20 years.
  Government stand:
Ngorongoro District commissioner, Elias Wawa Lali earlier condemned the burning of Maasai homes and warned that the actions would escalate violence in the area. 
However, Arusha Regional Commissioner (RC)  Daudi Ntibenda who visited the Area on Thursday this week maintained that Maasai community have to vacate the area before the full wrath of the state fall on them.
 “I give you two more weeks to vacate the area and those who disobey the order will be forcefully evicted “the RC reportedly said.
However in a meeting with Masaai community at Imolelian area, the victims were not given a chance to speak or their fate so to say. 
Ntibenda instead told the community to vacate the area, claiming they were posing a threat to the famous Serengeti national park and the wildebeests’ ecosystem migration. He also accused the media for a biased coverage.
 Human rights activists:
A human rights defender from Tanzania Pastoralist community forum Joseph Parsambei has condemned the government for its actions its own citizens appeal for high consideration on the fate of the affected families.
He said such an act was against human rights, as the government has disregarded victims loses and denied assistance.
“We need to provide food for the starving population - especially children. Livestock have been removed from this area, this means children lack milk and from the look of things they are in terrible suffering,” he said.
Background 
Earlier the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu on different occasions explained to the local communities the value of the area for biodiversity conservation both nationally and internationally.  
He said the area was important for the nation and invited Masaai communities to be fully involved in managing it for a shared benefit.
 However, the Minister’s proposal was rejected by the community who insisted that the land belonged solely to them and they do not tolerate national or international interference.

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