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Lawmaker protests planned Maasai eviction in Tanzania

Young Maasai elders who just graduated from morans to the Ilrmirisho age set at Mosiro in Narok East. [Robert Kiplagat, Standard]

The Maasai community in Kenya has joined its counterparts in Tanzania to protest against the planned eviction from the Ngorongoro conservancy.

The Maa community leaders in Narok want the alleged eviction stopped or they will sue the Tanzanian government.

Speaking in Narok town on Saturday, Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta condemned the Tanzanian authorities. The leaders appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga to plead with Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu to stop the eviction.

Mr Kenta said leaders of the Maa community will stand in solidarity with their counterparts in Ngorongoro and that evicting them is a violation of their rights.

“We have never been divided and we will not allow that to happen. As the Maasai we shall always remain one community, only the colonial boundary separates us,” he said. Mr Kenta said the community has been protecting the Ngorongoro land and its wildlife and should therefore not be punished. He appealed to the international community led by the United Nations to intervene.

Mr Kenta said it was unfortunate that the indigenous people should be treated like any other community in Tanzania. He called upon all Maasai community lawyers to jointly file a case at the East African Court of Justice.

The lawmaker said they shall seek legal redress to protect the rights of the 40,000 pastoralists in Tanzania at the risk of losing their ancestral land.

Lawyer Martin Ole Kamwaro said the Maasai community leaders have constituted a team that will file a case at the International Criminal Court, terming the move by the Tanzania government as a violation of human rights.

“We will make sure our people’s rights are respected,” Ole Kamwaro said. ODM Woman Representative candidate Lydia Ntimama told President Suluhu to protect the Maasai community living in Tanzania.

In February 2022, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights wrote to the Tanzanian government concerning the planned resettlement and eviction.

The rapporteurs said the Maasai pastoralists whose traditional land lies in the Ngorongoro conservation area were not consulted.

“Such plans have not been communicated to the Maasai people to obtain consent,” the communication reads in part. The rapporteurs said the conservation area is home to the indigenous Maasai and their active participation in all decisions concerning the site is required by the World Heritage Committee.

The UN sought to know what measures have been taken by the Tanzania government to ensure those who have lost their land, housing, possessions, or livelihoods, or who have been displaced have access to effective reparation.

“While awaiting a reply, we urge that all necessary interim measures be taken to halt the alleged violations and prevent their re-occurrence and if the investigations support or suggest the allegations to be correct, to ensure the accountability of any person(s) responsible for the alleged violations,” read the letter.