Saturday, 25 June 2016

Much Silence from Loliondo and then Extreme Defamation in the Jamhuri

A good man passed away.
There was an appeal hearing.
OBC donated school desks.
The worst of the worst joined up for defamation.

I haven’t posted any new blog post in a very long time, and the reason is that obtaining information is harder than ever. Some are corrupted and many – maybe all - are intimidated. Others say that things are calm and the “investors” aren’t doing anything at the moment. When a new Jamhuri “article” appeared in mid-June I had urgent reasons to write, but have been delayed due to travelling and mostly waiting in vain for help with information.
First some short other news.

Rest in Peace
On 14th May Sandet ole Reiyia from Mondorosi sadly passed away. This oldman had testified against Thomson, and in 2000 he led a protest delegation to Dar es Salaam against OBC. I’ve asked about what more he did in his life, but have only got lovely adjectives and not any verbs, even though I’ve been told that Sandet deserves his own blog post. Sandet explained Thomson Safaris to representatives from Minority Rights Group that visited in 2010: “It is very simple. A person is welcomed into a house and is entertained by the owner. Instead of just visiting, the person occupies all of the place and the owner becomes a refugee… We have become squatters in our own home.”

Appeal hearing
There was the be an appeal hearing on 17th May, but it was postponed because the judge was sick. The villages have appealed the horrendous injustice of the judgement that said Maasai land belonged to an unethical American tour operator that had bought it from TBL, the brewery that cultivated some barley for a few years in the 80s, and Thomson Safaris have appealed since 10,000 acres of other people’s land is not enough, and the land grabber insists that 12,617 acres are correctly grabbed. On 3rd June Thomson and villagers argued the application to appeal in front of the judge who will make her ruling sometime in August.

More Charity as a Weapon
On 23rd May OBC donated 200 school desks for different schools in Loliondo. The hunters’ PR person, and apparently natural born traitor, Moloimet Saing’eu, reported, and it seems like more educated young people than ever are ready to “forgive and forget”. This fact would be a little bit easier to understand if it weren’t because OBC’s general manager Isaack Mollel in every media appearance has insisted on saying that the Maasai of Loliondo don’t have any land – exactly the same “argument” that led to the extrajudicial evictions, and human rights abuse in 2009. OBC were involved in “charity” even that year, and has resources for much more of it, and for hiring more PR personnel…

Vicious Defamation in the Jamhuri
The worst of the worst in Loliondo  - William Alais, councillor for Oloipiri, and Gabriel Killel, director of the NGO KIDUPO -  have been active writing a plea to denounce the fact that Maanda Ngoitiko of Pastoral Women’s Council was nominated for the Front Line Defenders award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. Their claim is that “Maanda Ngoitiko does not deserve whatsoever, to be awarded the said award due to her lingering records of fuelling violence, demonstration and creating chaos in Ngorongoro District”. Their attack did of course make it even clearer that Maanda deserved such award. I was sent the plea by Tanzania’s worst “journalist”, Manyerere Jackton, who has written over 20 articles inciting against the Maasai of Loliondo saying that 70 percent of them would be “Kenyan”.

While I can´t have exact facts about everything concerning Maanda, I do get a clue from how these corrupt cowards write about me: Their level of writing is, “We clearly evidenced Ms. Susanna Nordlung (sic), formerly working with Pastoral Women Council, is the puppet behind Maanda’s Nomination which tarnishes the status of the award.” They don’t even write “we suspect”, and I did in fact not know about the nomination until it was announced in social media. If someone – quite unlikely – would have asked me to suggest a nomination I could very well have suggested Maanda though. Furthermore, I have never worked with PWC in any capacity whatsoever, and have only visited Tanzania for shorter tourist stays. Neither have I written any articles for PWC, which the destructive duo claim. My writings are entirely my own responsibility, and I get the information from a variety of people in Loliondo. My relation with PWC consists, like with other organisations, of asking for information, and very sadly I have to say that the past couple of years PWC have been among the least helpful.

Manyerere Jackton’s Swahili article based on the plea differs in some ways from the Alais-Killel plea. He adds his fantasy about my supposed “fundraising at the expense of the Maasai”, even if I this time am only getting “millions” and not “billions” as in another article. The fact is that I haven’t fundraised a shilling. Asking people for money is - maybe unfortunately - not my thing. My thing is to blog in response to the many lies about Loliondo. In his version Manyerere also claims that I’m doing this together with Dorobo Safaris. This safari company sponsors PWC, which I would have said was somewhat inappropriate if I’d been asked, even if Dorobo, as far as I know, haven’t grabbed any land and do speak in favour of land rights in their writings. I have never exchanged a word with anyone from Dorobo. The plea by Alais and Killel does instead say that Maanda is working together with Klein’s Camp and &Beyond. They also claim that Maanda would be the reason Nomad, Hoopoe and Buffalo left Loliondo – but, as far as I know, Buffalo Camp is still around. Buffalo Camp/Unique Safaris are land grabbers, but of a smaller area and with less aggression than Thomson Safaris. They are in the process of returning the land and obtaining a lease agreement instead. Nomad are leaving Loliondo. According to their website it’s because they’re absorbed in their new camp at the crater rim. I doubt that they have even heard about Maanda. What I’ve heard is that Hoopoe left because of OBC.

The attack against Maanda has one part about her activism that’s easy to rebut, and one personal part that is more difficult for me to have information about.

The personal part is a claim that Maanda would have “grabbed 3,000 acres” in Ilmasilig, Mondorosi. According to some, this is about an olokeri, which is an area near the home, for young calves and for cows that are unwell. All families have an olokeri and the claim is that Maanda would have grabbed a too big one and her brother would have been murdered for this reason. I would have to spend some time in Loliondo to find out the exact truth about this matter. Others say that the claim is about PWC’s (not Maanda’s) Women’s Solidarity Boma in Mondorosi. Another claim by Alais and Killel is that Maanda isn’t from Sukenya, but from Olosirwa in Kirtalo, which is somewhat absurd since I’ve never heard anyone say that she would be from Sukenya. All I’ve ever heard is that Maanda is from Mondorosi. At least they don’t say she is from Kenya, which was the first I ever heard from Thomson Safaris back in 2008 “a Kenyan Maasai woman telling the locals to squat on the land”, as “explained” by a photographer that do business with them.

Alais and Killel also claim that donor funds for PWC aren’t translated into activities, and that PWC should be audited by external auditors…. It’s of course not possible to get multiple grants year on year from large international NGOs and even government grants without accounting for what you do with the money – of which being audited by external auditors is a small part that PWC does fulfil. The NGO has many projects in Ngorongoro, Longido and Monduli districts dealing with education, “economic empowerment” and land rights (the land grabbed by Thomson Safaris is a small part of that). Could it be that it’s those that have donated money to KIDUPO (except maybe the “investors”) that have a myriad of problems and many sleepless nights to recount?

In short, Alais and Killel claim that Maanda is a bad person stirring up conflict for personal benefit wanting to mar the effort of good “investors” whose charitable projects the duo lists. Most unfairly do these two tools for divide and rule claim that Maanda is involved in conflict between Purko, Loita and the Laitayok – when the divide and rule they so willingly lend themselves to is the biggest worry for all serious Loliondo activists.

What Manyerere writes in the Jamhuri about grazing in Serengeti National Park differs sharply from what Alais and Killel write in their plea, even though the article starts by claiming to be in their name. Alais and Killel include a request to the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism to allow grazing in the national park during the dry season. This makes sense if your main objective is to please “investors” with zero respect for land rights, while you still need to graze your cattle. Besides saying that Kenyans cause cattle invasion of Serengeti, the Jamhuri writes that it’s Maanda’s incitement that has led the Maasai to believe it’s their ancestral right to enter livestock and build bomas in the Serengeti, against the laws of the country, which would better fit Manyerere’s narrative. Though in a second part, that’s apparently a translation of part of the plea, the Serengeti request is included - but there it starts with explaining that the duo agree with the prohibition of livestock in Serengeti, but..

The Most Dangerous Part
Until now those befriended by “investors” have kept to praising those “investors” while (like in the RAI in January 2015) saying that the land isn’t threatened since it’s village land – and at the same time, and in the same article, OBC’s general manager can say that the Maasai don’t have any land, that it belongs to the government that’s authorizing OBC. Though now in this plea Alais and Killel state that the Karkamoru market was “illegal” for being in “OBC’s hunting block”. The only hunting block that OBC has ever been granted is the 4,000 km2 old Loliondo Game Controlled Area, which would mean that the homes of Alais and Killel, the KIDUPO office and the DC’s office are also “illegal” – but this is of course not the case, since the whole 4,000 km2 is village land. They do not surprisingly also claim that Maanda was behind the Karkamoru market. Where does she get the time?

The Simple Facts
The fact is that in 2009 there were brutal extrajudicial evictions for the benefit of OBC, and that OBC’s Isaack Mollel keeps repeating the “argument” justifying the evictions – that the Maasai don’t have any land. This means that those praising OBC are to a huge degree lending support to such claims, and now Alais and Killel have taken it to a new level by talking about “illegal” activities in OBC’s hunting block.

And Thomson Safaris keep claiming to be the owners of 12,617 acres of Maasai land - where many of the legitimate owners have suffered serious harassment – and spending thousands and thousands of dollar on lawyers and online reputation management. Those supporting Thomson obviously support land grabbing and violence.

I first heard that Gabriel Killel had been “befriended” by land grabbing “investors” when he went on a trip to Dodoma in support of Thomson Safaris and OBC in 2014. As soon as I had written about it, he phoned Maanda threatening her with physical violence, and it wasn’t even Maanda, but another person who had informed me. Now Killel and Alais (not for the first time) are working with the journalist who, if anything were again to happen to the Maasai of Loliondo, would be denounced for inciting human rights crimes everywhere it can be denounced.

The winner of the Front Line Defenders award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk was eventually Ana Mirian Romero, an indigenous land rights activist from Honduras. As someone fighting a hydroelectric company in league with military and government, Ana Mirian has, besides many threats and violent attacks, also suffered personal defamation campaigns. The headline of the article in the Jamhuri is, “Atuzwa kwa kuisumbua Serikali” (She’s awarded for disturbing the government). “Disturbing the government” is a defining feature for all human rights defenders at risk, but don’t hold your breath for Manyerere Jackton to understand it.

Maasai in social media (whom I started this blog post by describing as alarmingly softened to OBC) almost unanimously reacted with horror to the defamation by Alais and Killel. Some even let me publish their comments.

Supuk Maoi says:
"Walichokiandika ‪Gabriel Kilele na Diwani wa Oloipiri ‪Willium Alais zidi ya tuzo ya utetezi wa haki za wafugaji aliyotuzwa Mh ‪Maanda Ngoitiko ni uongo uliojaa chuki binafsi usio na tija kwa jamii.
Niendelee kuwasihi hawa mapadri walioacha kazi ya utumishi na kuja kupotosha jamii pamoja na mwandishi asiye na sifa za uandishi wa habari ndugu ‪Jackton Manyerere waone hata aibu kwa uongo wao wanaoendelea kueneza kwa muda mrefu kupitia kwenye Gazeti la Jamhuri. Wameandika mengi sana lakini asilimia tisini na tisa nukta tano hayana ukweli wowote na yangekuwa na ukweli hakika Serikali ingeanza kuyafanyia kazi.
Mama ‪Ngoitiko alistahili tuzo aliyopewa na nyingine alizokwisha tuzwa na kinachowasumbua watu wengine wanaoangaika naye ni wivu usiokuwa na maana na kama wataendelea na tabia hii hakika watapata shida sana katika majukumu yao ya kila siku.
Hongera sana Mh ‪Maanda kwa kuendelea kuonekana kwa kazi ngumu unayofanya..... Mh ‪Alais na ‪Gabriel mtambue kuwa Maanda sio level yenu kwa activism hata kidogo."

Lanyor Embapa says:
“Binafsi nashauri hizi NGO with communities waone kuwa wanachofanyiwa na Alais, Manyerere,
Siyo haki. It's not Right. Kwahiyo waoneshe action ya uhakika even kwa kujibu by writing paper to Jukwaa la Wahandishi wa Habari,
Community waamue kwenda even court kumshataki Alais coz amekuwa ni mtu kuwaposha umma kwa miaka mingi sana;
NGOs, waende kwa jamii kutoa elimu juu ya upotoshaji wa Alais na Kileli,
ambayo inalenga kuwa Maa agency wa Waarabu na hawa landgrabber kwa ujumla!!!!!!
Pia kufikia hatua ya kumuandama  mwanaharakati mama yetu Maanda Ngoitiko,
Hiyo ni unyanyazaji wa kijinsia na kuwapangua binadau with no reasons,
Kama kuna huwezekano wa kufugia hilo gazeti lifugiwe mara moja iwezekanavyo,
Pia huyo Manyerere hashitakiwe kwa kutumia taaluma/kalamu vibaya kwa kuandika mambo yasiyoweza kuijenga jamii,
Mwisho kabisa,”

Boni Masago says:
“Manyerere na wenzake ni watu wenye chuki na wivu. Hawapendi kuona maendeleo ya Maanda ni wachochezi dhidi yake. Killel anatamani kupewa tuzo hiyo ila hawezi kushindana na kazi ambazo Maanda ameifanyia jamii hivyo huo ni uchochezi wa wivu.”

Bishop Lucas ole N’giria says:
“I know Maanda well and she is all about human rights, truth and women motivation.”

Herry Guy says:
“KIDUPO wamevamia harakati za ndani ya wilaya kwa lengo la kuwavuruga wanaharakati wa kweli na wa wazi wilayani na kwa hili hawataweza kamwe! Wameungana na maadui wakubwa wilayani kwa kuupotosha ukweli na hili nililizibitisha kwa documentary iliyofanyika wilayani juu ya uwepo wa OBC kwanza walilipwa kupindisha kweli documentary ile waliohojiwa ni wale wachache wanaonufaika na uwekezaji ule kwa namna moja ama nyingine! Askofu hana hofu ya mungu kabisa! Na hili la Maanda Ngoitiko wamethibitisha kilicho ndani yao. Tunatambua harakati za Maanda Ngoitiko haswa katika ukombozi wa jamii yetu ktk sector ya Elimu na sisemi Maanda Ngoitiko ni malaika bali kwa hili na tuzo ni jambo la kusherehekea hatua hii na kupongezwa na kuigwa. Wanaoumia juu ya hili SHAME ON THEM."

Sandet ole Reiyia photo: MRG

Susanna Nordlund

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