The Maasai communities adjacent to the park in northern Tanzania have faced eviction attempts for decades to make way for the lucrative game reserve. The most recent effort is the shutting down of critical social services like water supply, education and health services to forcefully eject the Massai communities in the Ngorongoro conservation from their ancestral lands. While the AEFJN condemns this systematic approach of the Tanzanian government to remove the Massai communities out of their homelands forcefully, we are more concerned about linking this draconian government action to the health services principally provided by the archdiocese of Arusha. The Archdiocese of Arusha built the Endulen hospital in response to the healthcare needs of the Massai communities living in the Ngorongoro conservation area. In collaboration, the Government of Tanzania has participated in the healthcare services by appointing paid staff to the hospital to complement the effort of the Church. The Endulen hospital is the only hospital in the conservation area that serves the Massai communities.
Therefore, the recent decision of the Tanzanian government to remove the paid qualified health workers and cripple the Endulen Catholic hospital is a systematic effort to forcefully eject the Masai communities living within the Ngorongoro Conservation area from their ancestral land. In addition, the Government of Tanzania has further pressured the Archdiocese of Arusha to scale down and eventually stop its emergency services at the Endulen Catholic Hospital so that the hospital sinks to the level of a dispensary. We are disturbed by the negative perception of the Church among the Masai communities and the broader human society that the Church may have accepted the government’s position and abandoned the Masai to their ill-fated lot. While lasting land justice for these indigenous peoples is our paramount goal, our most urgent concern is to see that the Massai communities in the Ngorongoro Conservation are not denied health care services and, as a consequence, thus forced to leave their ancestral lands.
In addition, we call on the Tanzanian government to comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples and the regulations in place in the Ngorongoro Conservation area that state that “no decision can be made without proper involvement, consultation, and the consent of Maasai communities”. In this vein, the so-called voluntary relocation scheme and the halting of social services amount to the forced displacement of Maasai indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands. It threatens their lives, cultures, and the many benefits they have brought to their environment, including conserving wildlife and territories. It is a violation of their fundamental rights and their right derived from the conservation regulations.
The African Commission on Indigenous and Peoples Rights visited Tanzania in January 2003 to assess the extent of Human Rights enjoyment by the citizens of Tanzania. One of the specific objectives of the commission was to seek information on and access the Human Rights situation of the Indigenous populations and communities of Tanzania, including mainly to review the situation at the Loliondo Game Controlled Area and Ngorongoro Conservation area in Tanzania. In its report, the commission observes that “most of the members of the affected pastoral communities in Ngorongoro are willing to relocate only because of the constraints and the reported limited access to basic amenities.”
Meanwhile, there are already conflicts between the so-called “volunteers” Massai population lured to relocate to the settlement site in Msomere, in Handeni district and Kitwai in Simanjiro and the settled people of other tribes. With this forceful eviction plan of the Tanzanian government, the Massai stands out as one of the endangered tribes in Africa, as their communities face the same eviction threats in Kenya over government development projects. Has the Tanzanian government evaluated the implication of the eviction of the Massai from their ancestral land? The current effort to dislocate the Massai tribe from their ancestral land put them at risk of losing their identity and culture. If there is so much effort to protect our biodiversity, why is it that the international community does not seriously consider the protection of the Massai communities? Africa is gaining notoriety for exterminating small indigenous tribes with natural resources in their ancestral land. There have been cases of the Baka forest pygmy tribe of southeast Cameroon, the Sengwer tribe of Kenya, the San Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana and the Ogiek of Kenya, all displaced for the governments and mega conglomerates. The silence of the international community is a loud cacophony