Thursday, 8 April 2021

A Reminder about Loliondo

Maasai in Loliondo have for years been at risk of losing 1,500 km2 of important grazing land, suffered all kinds of abuse, including illegal mass arson operations, and a local police state. I’ve tried to make this article as brief as possible, too much have been left out, but there’s just too much to say – even when some is unknown.

Initially the plan was to publish this blog post somewhere else, but I’ll write another kind of article for that purpose.


While this post has kept being delayed hopes have first been raised with the change at the highest level of government, and then plummeted on 6th April when President Samia mentioned Ngorongoro in a speech showing that she’d swallowed the lies by the MNRT hook, line and sinker. This can still be salvaged, and I hope to very soon be able to write a blog post about the responses that will set record straight for her (more about this at the end of the blog post). Meanwhile, read what Ngorongoro youths in February had to say about the plans by the MNRT.

In this blog post:

Rest in peace Emmanuel Saringe ole Naronyo

Loliondogate to today

Invasion of village land and mass arson of 2009

The draft District Land Use Plan

Kagasheki’s attempt at imposing OBC’s land use plan

OBC’s journalist

Worsened divide and rule with Nyalandu

Proxy wars for OBC

My illegal arrest

Illegal arrests to silence everyone

Gambo’s committee

Invasion of village land and illegal mass arson operation of 2017

Kigwangalla became a hero and then U-turned

Intimidation drive to derail the case in the EACJ, unbelievable perjury, and interim orders that were soon violated

The bizarre case of mistaken identity

JWTZ soldiers working for OBC committed human rights crimes

The unexpected arrest of OBC’s director

JWTZ soldiers killing Yohana "Babuche" Saidea in Wasso town

A genocidal NCA Multiple Land Use Model review proposal includes the land wanted by OBC

Current state and the speech of nightmares

Rest in peace Emmanuel Saringe ole Naronyo

On 19th March 2021, Emmanuel Saringe Naronyo, at not yet 42 years of age, passed away at Monduli hospital after having been unwell since early March.


Emmanuel was born in Arash in Loliondo on 5th June 1979. He was a lawyer by profession and had for the past 12 years worked for PINGOs Forum defending the rights of pastoralists and hunter gatherers. I had only limited online correspondence with Emmanuel, but he was a friend and a colleague of many friends and acquaintances of mine who will remember his happy, smiling disposition and ability to make everyone laugh.


The cause of death is believed to be Covid-19 based on the symptoms, but can’t been ascertained without testing, and underlying health conditions are seen as probable.


Emmanuel was buried in Ng’arwa on 22nd March. He leaves a big gap among family and friends, and in advocacy.


Loliondogate to today

Still today the name of Stan Katabalo is sometimes mentioned in Tanzanian online conversations. In 1993, Katabalo reported in the Mfanyakazi newspaper about the Loliondogate scandal of irregular allocation of the Loliondo hunting blocks to royalty from Dubai. He did this until he died under suspect circumstances in September the same year. The scandal was that the allocation was done above the heads of the legally registered villages, the parastatal TAWICO already had the contract for the hunting block and was supposed to stay until 1996, there were reports of how Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (current ruler of Dubai) and Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Ali (owner of Otterlo Business Corporation - OBC) had committed major offenses against hunting regulations when on a presidential permit, the contract was for 10 instead of the regular 5 years, and the handing over of the hunting block had been facilitated by the highest level of government. Stan Katabalo got much of his information from Moringe ole Parkipuny, the first MP for Ngorongoro who had been outmanoeuvred and frustrated by one-party politics.


OBC’s first contract was eventually revoked, and President Mwinyi removed Abubakar Mgumia as the head of the Ministry of Tourism, Natural Resources and Environment (the name of the ministry at that time) in connection with the scandal, but the lease of the hunting block has kept being renewed and the OBC stays in Loliondo up to this day. I’ve got almost all information (and there’s more of it) about the early days from Navaya ole Ndaskoi.


The relations between the local Maasai and OBC have varied through the years, but it seems like at the start of the new millennium the hunters had become more active wanting to manage the land and lobby the government to evict the Maasai. This has led to a rather extreme local police state since years before this became the fate of the whole of Tanzania, illegal mass arsons operations with major human rights violations in 2009 and 2017, the Tanzania People’s Defence Force working for OBC in 2018, among other truly scandalous abuse that just don’t seem to have made an impact on the Tanzanian public anywhere near that of the Loliondogate of the early 1990s. Currently a basically genocidal zoning proposal for the whole of Ngorongoro District and beyond, involving mass squeezing of people and livestock into unsustainably small and arid areas, includes the evictions lobbied for by OBC, and keeps being pushed for by people in and around the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.


OBC’s hunting block covers the whole of Loliondo Game Controlled Area, some 4,000 km2, which is more than the whole of Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro District, since it includes some of Sale Division. OBC want the hunting block reduced to their core hunting area next to Serengeti National Park, which is some 1,500 km2 of important dry season grazing land, and they have lobbied to have this land converted into a protected area, evicting the Maasai. However, it is all village land belonging to several villages. In the 1970s these villages were registered under the Village and Ujamaa Villages Act, in 1982 under the Local Government (District Authorities) Act, and then got further protection as village land belonging to the village assembly (all adult villagers) managed by the village council under Village Land Act No.5 of 1999. Eviction from this land is in complete contravention and violation of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, Village Land Act 1999, Wildlife Conservation Act, 2009, and the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC.


To avoid confusion, it should be remembered that Loliondo is one of the three divisions of Ngorongoro District and the name of the town (or village depending on one’s perspective) that’s the district headquarter. It’s not to be confused with Longido that’s a neighbouring district. The dangerous charlatan Babu of Loliondo isn’t found with his concoction in Loliondo, but in Samunge in Sale division of Ngorongoro. Otterlo Business Corporation is the correct spelling, and not anything else. And, OBC have never bought any land in Loliondo.


Invasion of village land and illegal mass arson operation of 2009

In April 2000, the Loliondo Maasai sent a 13-men protest delegation led by the late customary leader Sandet ole Reiya to Dar-es-Salaam. The intention was to sort out the conflict with OBC through seeking support from President Mkapa, whom they never managed to meet. Their complaints were about not being involved in the re-lease of the hunting block, OBC’s buildings too close to water sources, and the 3-kilometre airstrip. Everything would get much worse the following years.


In the extreme drought year 2009, Ngorongoro DC Jowika Kasunga had, together with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, for a couple of years been increasing pressure and threats against the Maasai to accommodate OBC’s wishes for undisturbed hunting during its season that coincides with the dry season. OBC’s Tanzanian director since 2007, Isaack Mollel, contributed to the threatening atmosphere. Local leaders through statements and delegations appealed to the government to intervene, but to no avail. Kasunga was replaced by whom was believed to be a more reasonable DC, Elias Wawa Lali, but soon an order for an illegal invasion of village land was issued by the DC’s office, after a decision at regional level.


On 4th July 2009, the Field Force Unit arrived in vehicles loaded with armed men and drums of petrol. Assisted by OBC rangers they set on fire whole homesteads, destroying everything inclusive of some young animals in the enclosures, houses and family grain reserves in stores. The destruction raged on into late August. It started from the north, near the OBC camp situated in Soitsambu Village (now Kirtalo after the splitting up of villages) and spread all the way to Piyaya in the south. Around 200 bomas were burnt to the ground. Many cases of beatings, humiliations and sexual assault were reported. Cattle were driven into an extreme drought area, and several children were lost in the chaos and terror and one of them – 7-year-old Nashipai Gume from Arash – has not been found, ever since.


Ngorongoro MP Telele acted early on, speaking up on the ground and in parliament, and national and international organisations affirmed the illegality of the operation. The government set up several committees and commissions that engaged in whitewashing, and nothing of substance or seriousness was ever heard from that side. Minister Mwangunga – who had been trying to justify the operation in the most contrived ways - warned that with the incoming Wildlife Conservation Act 2009, village land and game controlled area would be separated.  Mollel announced that OBC had given the Office of the Arusha Regional Commissioner TShs. 156 million for surveying the land (Habari Leo, 23 November 2009).


The crown prince of Dubai in Loliondo in 2009

The draft District Land Use Plan

The threats kept coming. On 25th February 2010, the press reported that the Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Developments, John Chiligati, had declared that the Government had set aside TShs.157 million for land use planning in Loliondo. For some time Chiligati was the driving Loliondo land alienation minister making statements about the coming land partition (1,500 km2 for a protected area) to media and on visits to Loliondo. On 6th April 2010, hundreds of women had had enough and marched on Loliondo to protest the threat of a “buffer zone”, handing in their CCM cards and demanding that the report about the evictions be tabled in parliament, and to be allowed to hold a peaceful demonstration in Loliondo. Some were intercepted, but some 500 reached Loliondo town. Three male CSO workers were briefly arrested, accused of having planned the women’s protest. Though Chiligati continued in the same way, and Mwangunga boasted about the planned land demarcation at election campaign meetings.


In December 2010, a constitutional suit – misc. civil cause no.15 of 2010 – was filed in the High Court of Tanzania by several civil society organisations to petition the July 2009 evictions. This case never moved forward, since it was impossible to gather the required quorum of three judges in Arusha, and eventually it was dismissed. It was clear that this was an issue for a regional or international court.


In February 2011, the Draft District Land Use Framework Plan 2010-2030 was presented. This plan not only included the 1,500 km2 Osero (bushland) as Game Controlled Area as pictured in the Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 (previously GCAs overlapped with village land and did not restrict villagers’ land use) but also proposed to establish Wildlife Management Areas, which means restricting people and livestock from the land while it nominally stays as village land, which the Maasai had already resisted for years under pressure from the central government and the notorious Frankfurt Zoological Society. The plan was strongly and loudly rejected by the Ngorongoro District Council, and the councillors, some of whom were even known to be friends of OBC, held a press conference in Arusha to protest the attempt at destroying tens or hundreds of thousands of lives and livelihoods, and Maajabu Films assisted with making People Have Spoken.


Since nothing was heard from the government after the District Council rejected OBC’s land use plan, local leaders were quick to assume that they had won. Some – far from all - of them even saw it suitable to “reconcile” with OBC that now would keep to hunting and not interfere with grazing, they said. There were some alarmists, that claimed to have got reports that OBC were still lobbying for eviction, but those were ignored. So not only the strange wording, but also the timing, was awkward when the global web movement Avaaz in August 2012 launched a petition entitled “Stop the Serengeti Sell-off” (actually about the Loliondo land threat).


Some people mentioned that Maige was a more reasonable kind of minister (it’s no longer remembered and now seen as unlikely). Anyway, he was soon replaced by who at the time was OBC’s most passionate defender yet to be seen at the head of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism – Khamis Kagasheki.


Kagasheki’s attempt at imposing OBC’s land use plan

Kagasheki in January 2013 held “stakeholders” meetings in Loliondo interpreting the problems as conflict between so-called “investors”, “communities” and the local government, apparently viewing the Maasai landowners as troublesome minor “stakeholders”, and his recommendation was for investors to form an association, while warning that if things did not go well, he would ban all human activities in the area. After this the minister announced his preferred “solution” as imposing OBC’s land use plan that would take away the 1,500 km2 of dry season grazing from the Maasai, which was the threat they’d been trying to avert for years, but the minister was announcing this as a generous offer of the remaining 2,500 km2 – which of course, like the 1,500 km2, already was village land, and contained “towns” (or village centres), agricultural land, and forests - under the condition that the Maasai would form a WMA! For months, Kagasheki’s went on making the most untruthful, twisted, and threatening statements, totally in the vein of OBC’s most ardent supporters. He said that the Maasai were landless and would be given land, when in fact he was talking about taking away an essential dry season grazing area, and he accused anyone speaking up of working for 37 corrupt NGOs (there were two local NGOs speaking up about land rights in Loliondo) and of being “Kenyan”, which is the most classic rhetoric of the Loliondo police state at the service of “investors”.


The Maasai did not delay action. On 21st March 2013, local leaders had got information that Kagasheki was sent by the president to announce that the 1,500 km2 “corridor” would be taken by the government to protect wildlife and water catchments. They refused to enter the District Council conference hall to join the minister. Instead, they demanded that he should answer questions from people outside the hall. Kagasheki suspended the meeting, took off to Arusha in a fury, and made his announcement to journalists in Dar es Salaam on 26th March. The leaders and other local people who were around waiting for the minister talked to the media to express their views on the matter. The Ololosokwan ward councillor, Yannick Ndoinyo, told journalists, “We are not ready to surrender even one meter of our land to investors for whatever reason” and several other leaders had the same message. Then followed a string of mass meetings and costly protest delegations to Dar es Salaam and Dodoma. Thousands of people met in Oloipiri on 25th March 2013 and decided to stay united, end any involvement with OBC and, soon after the government had announced the land to be taken away from them, initiate a court case with an injunction plus a reclaim of Serengeti National Park. Also, all political leaders, including the MP, would resign from their posts. Later, around a thousand women gathered in Oloirien/Magaiduru, camping out and holding meetings for days.

Oloipiri 25th March 2013


Kagasheki continued with his threats and shameless lies in official statements and breakfast meetings with ambassadors and was sadly supported by parts of the press. The Maasai got support from several international organisations, not least Avaaz in their particular style, and somewhat confused coverage in international press, while Legal and Human Rights Centre on 15th April 2013 sent a letter to Kagasheki warning him that his announcements were contempt of court in the ongoing constitutional case, urging him to restrain from implementing his decisions and that “In the event this call is ignored or neglected we shall be forced to institute an application before the court of law against you personally”.


A CCM mission led by Mwigulu Nchemba met with the women gathered in Oloirien. The CCM representatives were told in no uncertain terms that the community would fight to the last person for their land and Nchemba’s conclusion was that the government’s decision was contrary to the laws of the land and would adversely affect the local community, and that he would refer the issue to the PM. At the same time representatives of CHADEMA were addressing the public at a meeting in Soitsambu. Tundu Lissu and Peter Msigwa told villagers to support the opposition party in opposing the government’s decision.


A delegation to Dodoma in April 2013 got promising words from PM Pinda that OBC’s land use plan would not be implemented, but a month later a less promising letter to the RC was revealed. Sadly, the pressure, or maybe the temptations, was too much for MP Telele who during and after the criminal operation in 2009 had stood firmly on the side of the people. He took off on an investor-wooing delegation to China - led by the Director of Tourism of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. Later, in parliament after a presentation on Loliondo by Msigwa, Telele stood up and thanked Kagasheki and the Government for finding a “solution” (sic!) to the Loliondo land conflict. There were more meetings and delegations, and Kagasheki while winding up the debate over his ministry’s 2013/2014 budget again insisted that the government would not be “dictated by NGOs”.


Finally, on 23rd September 2013, PM Pinda was on a visit to Loliondo and Wasso was overflowing with people who wanted to hear what he had to say. In an emotional speech, the PM told them that the plan of taking 1.500 km2 was scrapped, that the land was theirs and for their coming generations – and that Kagasheki would not be allowed to bother them anymore. They were asked to continue with their lives as before Kagasheki’s statements. Some of those present thought that Pinda had declared his love for the Maasai. In any case it marked the end of Kagasheki’s aggressive and misleading way of trying to impose OBC’s land use plan.


At the time, nobody knew that this was the good old days, and that even if far from perfect, such seriousness and unity among local leaders would not be seen the following seven or more years.


OBC’s journalist

The journalist Manyerere Jackton was a defender of Kagasheki in 2013 and had already been using the same anti-Loliondo rhetoric for a couple of years. This journalist has in well over 50 articles, mostly in the Jamhuri newspaper, been spewing out unhinged hatred against the Maasai of Loliondo and campaigned for taking the 1,500 km2 Osero away from them. Besides painting the Maasai as a menace to wildlife and investors, and governed by corrupt NGOs, he has claimed that 70 percent of the Loliondo Maasai would not be Tanzanian, and published lists of hundreds of private individuals that his “sources” consider to be “Kenyan”. Manyerere’s slandering of those speaking up for land rights, or those he thinks could speak up for land rights, has been vicious and insane, fabricating the craziest stories. He has not even hesitated to boast about his own involvement in the arrests of innocent people.


Manyerere started writing about Loliondo around 2010, but has kept a lower profile after OBC’s Tanzanian director Mollel was arrested for economic sabotage in 2019. However, lately the Jamhuri has published articles about a workshop for editors and journalists arranged by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority in late-December 2020, basically to teach them about the necessity of evictions, and ever-increasing tourist numbers. Manyerere was vocal with his anti-Maasai rhetoric at this workshop. Though an article in the Jamhuri calling for President Magufuli to “help” Ngorongoro was, for some reason, published under the name of another journalist (Mkinga). Tanzanian journalists have generally seemed unconcerned with Jackton’s deeply unethical behaviour and reacted more when he contested for the CCM Butiama MP candidature, without succeeding.


Worsened divide and rule with Nyalandu

In 2014 Minister Nyalandu concentrated on closed meetings with ward councillors from Loliondo, in which OBC participated, and reportedly there were big offers of money. Everyone started suspecting everyone else, and OBC toured the villages trying to make them sign a memorandum of understanding, when the previous year, there had been agreement to never enter any kind of contract with OBC.


Divide and rule was not new in Loliondo. OBC for years had not only had almost all government officials in their pocket, not least the DC – which had led to an increasingly frightful local police state - but also focused on certain “ambitious” individuals, and on one of the three Maasai sections present in Loliondo, telling them that the other two were “Kenyans”. These exact tactics had then been copied by the American Thomson Safaris that occupy 12,617 acres as their own private nature refuge, and whose critics are almost more savagely persecuted than OBC’s. By November 2014, a group of traitors had crystallized consisting of the leaders in three wards, led by the councillor for Oloipiri, William Alais, and the NGO coordinator, Gabriel Killel, known for his violent and deranged behaviour. These people wrote a letter to Mary Nagu, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office for Investment and Empowerment, complaining about NGOs interfering in the relationship between “the people of Oloipiri ward” and the investors OBC and Thomson Safaris. They even had this letter published in the worst of anti-Loliondo newspapers, the Jamhuri. The traitors worked closely with these “investors” that don’t respect land rights, and with the government officials working for the “investors”, which put many people in Loliondo in danger. At the same time, they never signed any contract with OBC, and apparently expected the people that they were slandering and endangering for their personal benefit should save the land.


Even friendly and helpful actors were causing many headaches (it has always been the case with Loliondo, or maybe everywhere), like the British newspaper, the Guardian that – for some reason - wrote that there was an eviction notice and the Maasai would have to leave the land before the end of 2014, which nobody in Loliondo had heard about. Nyalandu and even Kikwete (one tweet only, presidents don’t make statements about Loliondo) responded to this misleading information with their own misleading comments. A delegation from Loliondo of political and customary leaders, and women’s representatives travelled to Dodoma and tried in vain to meet PM Pinda. The delegation issued a press release protesting Nyalandu’s statements and making demands for a written statement carrying the PM’s earlier promises of 23rd September 2013, the revocation of LGCA as should already have been done according to Wildlife Conservation Act 2009, the resumption of the land use planning which had been abruptly stopped in early September 2013 after a complaint from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, and the stopping of tourist hunting in Loliondo. They never received any response and hardly any media coverage.


In December 2014, Nyalandu flew to Loliondo together with 25 journalists. The minister informed the press that he would not hesitate to oust any investor, institution or NGO that instigated conflict in the hunting area. The message was that three of seven wards agreed with OBC, and there were photos of Nyalandu drinking water from a well drilled by OBC (or more exactly the UAE Red Crescent). He met with ward councillors and spoke of the need to live in harmony with the investor.


On 8th January 2015, Channel 10 ran a programme about Loliondo. It was hosted by the reporter Jerry Muro who later would become the DC for Arumeru. OBC’s managing director Isaack Mollel featured in the programme, and besides talking about his company’s development projects, illegal Kenyans and useless NGOs, claimed that the land belonged to the government and not to the Maasai, while land defenders were only interviewed about unrelated issues. In short, the story did not meet the minimum standard of professional journalism but was more of an advert for certain interests. To set the record straight and protest seriously misleading and biased “journalism” concerning Loliondo some NGO representatives held a press conference in Arusha on 22nd January 2015. (Ufafanuzi wa Upotoshwaji kwa Kupitia Vyombo vya Habari kuhusu Mgogoro wa Ardhi ya Vijiji vya Tarafa za Sale na Loliondo). On 28th March 2015, Channel Ten aired another Loliondo documentary in the same style.


On 20th January 2015, Minister Nyalandu welcomed Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and his crown prince on their arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport, before continuing to Loliondo for a “private visit”, but due to the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the royal hunters left already on the 24th. In 2019, Nyalandu would in social media post a photo of the welcoming, describing it as international peace and harmony.


Local leaders, both those befriended by “investors” and those who tried to keep to the promises of 2013, continued holding meetings. On 28th January, all village chairmen, councillors and customary leaders met at the District Council. The outcome was reportedly a loose agreement to move forward together, and that nobody should sign any contract before minster Kagasheki’s statements from 2013 had been reversed in writing by the government.


10-14 February 2015, Serengeti National Park rangers together with Loliondo administrative police set fire to 114 permanent bomas in areas of Arash, and Loosoito/Maaloni. Many people, children included, were left without food, shelter, or medical services. Researchers found that the bomas had been inside the park according to the boundaries marked by hills, as described in a schedule in the National Parks Ordinance 1959 (and also in Government Notice 1968). Though most of them would be outside the park according to an unidentified boundary marked by stone piles. People had been living in the area for years under an unofficial agreement with the rangers who now said that they had orders from above. Human rights crimes had been committed, but local leaders were in a dilemma since they must have zero tolerance with the government invading village land and could not react in the same way when houses probably not on village land had been attacked. Anyway, a few months later people moved back. OBC had not been involved in the eviction of February 2015, but several international organisations published articles saying that this was the case and that the Maasai had now been evicted to “make way for lion hunting”, added one article, while a press release by another organisation claimed that bomas had been burned in Ololosokwan …


Proxy wars for OBC

The first half of April 2015, an “anti-Kenyan” team made up of police, KDU anti-poaching squads, Immigration, Usalama wa Taifa (intelligence and security service), Wildlife Department from Dar es Salaam, Field Force Unit and Magereza (prisons) toured Loliondo villages arresting those suspected of being Kenyan or of hosting Kenyan citizens. In Kirtalo the team was joined by OBC rangers and ten Laitayok (Maasai subsection) from Oloipiri councillor William Alais’ investor-friendly group whose victims were seriously beaten. Five Kenyans – not of the fantasy kind, but actual citizens of the Republic of Kenya (even if being such a person isn’t a crime) - were jailed for six months and fined TShs. 100,000. On 20th April, Kenyan Maasai at a meeting at Ilkerin Loita resolved to close the border due to the mistreatment, and this led to problems for Tanzanian children schooling in Kenya. After many meetings, the cross-border issue cooled down, but not the habit of accusing Tanzanians of being Kenyan.


Manyerere Jackton, in the Jamhuri, unsurprisingly joined in publishing a list of 280 “Kenyans” in Loliondo, almost all just private individuals, and including Kundai Parmwat who was councillor for Soitsambu for 10 years. The NGOs speaking up for land rights were of course also called “Kenyan”.


On 3rd May 2015, two corrupt policemen who were extorting people at the market in Ololosokwan were beaten up by warriors, and the new DC, Hashim Mgandilwa – an ignorant person who was eager to show off his authoritarianism - chose to go after leaders assumed to stand up for land rights. The following day the Ololosokwan councillor, and village chairman were arrested accused of having planned and incited the attack. On the 6th more villagers from Ololosokwan were arrested, together with the councillor for Soitsambu, who had been nowhere near the market. Those detained were forced to walk barefoot some 7 kilometres from Wasso to Loliondo in front of police vehicles, on the order of DC Mgandilwa. Then former MP Matthew Timan was both arrested and released on bail the same day. His “crime” was that those released had met journalists at his guest house. The DC and the police claimed that leaders had planned the attacks on policemen because of the anti-Kenyan operation, and said that they had “illegally” attended a meeting in Kenya.


On 15th May 2015, the councillor of Oloipiri ward, together with the chairman of Oloipiri village (current councillor since 2020) and the Officer Commanding District came to Kirtalo market telling people not to graze their animals in the Indashat area claiming that it was in Oloipiri. Those addressed refused since the area was, and is, disputed. Indashat, like Karkamoru market that OBC wanted to close (and eventually succeeded), was inside Kirtalo sub-village and should therefore now be in Kirtalo village. But the councillor wanted the area with the hunters to be inside his Oloipiri ward. The following day, three men and a 7-year-old boy, were caught in Indashat while they were grazing and taken to Loliondo where they had to spend the night in a cell. In the evening, the police with the OCD fired shots at three bomas in Kirtalo making some people run away in panic. Around 30 children were lost, but later found that night. On the 17th, a crisis meeting was held in Kirtalo attended by some 400 Purko (Maasai subsection). Eventually one Laitayok and one Purko boma were removed from the area.


DC Mgandilwa came up with a story for reporters that he had ordered a state of emergency (he had not) due to infiltration of dangerous arms, and that people from Kirtalo were out to wage war on Oloipiri. He also talked about the porous border and an invasion of aliens from Kenya.


My illegal arrest

In June 2015, I visited Loliondo. I had already in 2010 experienced the Loliondo police state first-hand when asking questions about Thomson Safaris (initially I had thought that OBC was beyond the scope of a tourist) instead of to in vain keep hoping for, and asking, others to do it, which led to then DC Elias Wawa Lali confiscating my passport and sending it to Arusha where I was declared a prohibited immigrant. It was after this that I became a blogger, as my experiences were no longer welcome in online forums for travellers. I returned mostly without problems in 2011 and 2013, but in 2015 I was illegally arrested for two nights at Loliondo police station (ordered by DC Mgandilwa who was hovering around too afraid to direct one word to me) and one night at Arusha police station, without being allowed to contact anyone. Fortunately, someone contacted Onesmo Olengurumwa of Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition about my “arrest” and he sent two lawyers from Legal and Human Rights Centre to Arusha. The upside of this “arrest” (kidnapping really) was that I got the opportunity to tell everyone at Loliondo police station who should be arrested instead of me (the “investors”).


Though I was never charged with anything at all, but instead again declared a prohibited immigrant and driven to the border with Kenya where my fingerprints were thoroughly registered so that I would never again be able to enter Tanzania. When I got my laptop back, it was discovered that the hard drive had been stolen while in custody with police/Immigration. After this arrest, OBC’s “journalist” Manyerere Jackton started fabricating delirious and defamatory stories about me, such as that I would get paid billions of money from European countries to destabilize the Serengeti ecosystem, and met all kinds of people that I’ve never met, in places where I’ve never been, besides some stories that I wish were true, like that I would be a donor funding the case in the East African Court of Justice (Jamhuri, 1-7-2015, Raia Tanzania, 4-8-2015, Jamhuri, 22-6-2016, 7-7-2016, 27-7-2016,22-12-2016, 22-3-2017, 12-7-2017, 26-9-2017, 12-12-2017, 22-05-2018, 18-09-2018, 13-11-2018).


Sheikh Mohammed visited again in September 2015, and some opposition supporters in social media, who could not care less about the serious land threat and local police state, chose to photoshop a giraffe into pictures of the planes from UAE, and make a big noise about our giraffes being stolen … Since there isn’t anyone monitoring OBC’s activities, it isn’t known if they are still violating hunting regulations.


After the 2015 elections the new MP for Ngorogoro was William Olenasha, which seemed like good news indeed, since he was intelligent and informed, and had always stood firmly on the side of the people in the land rights struggle. Sadly, instead he would become the biggest disappointment ever. Maybe things would have been different if he had not been appointed as a deputy minister. I will never know.


Kikwete had been a rabid anti-pastoralist, particularly during his first term, and there were some hopes for a change. I even decided to seek a revocation of my prohibited immigrant status. Instead, everything changed for the worse.


Manyerere Jackton continued his hate campaign in the Jamhuri, and OBC engaged in donations to Wasso hospital and donations of school desks. Charity as a weapon of war is quite common for investors in Loliondo, and not only in Loliondo but in many places where wealthy people want to take the basis of livelihoods away from people with many needs.


In June – July 2016, I visited Kenya. I had been receiving emails from Manyerere Jackton with one-liner insults, and in one email he informed me that, “Finally you will know who’s the worst journalist and who’s the worst mzungu”, and then he sent me my own photo together with a friend from Loliondo in Kenya, which he must have got from some of my Facebook “friends”.


Illegal arrests to silence everyone

I got the shocking news that my friend, Clinton Kairung, who was a secondary school teacher, and not particularly known as an activist, had been arrested on 13th July 2016, and that the reason would be that he had met me in Kenya, a country that we both were very free to visit. The following day another secondary school teacher, Supuk Olemaoi, who unlike Clinton had been somewhat visible as an activist and an opposition supporter, was arrested as well. Clinton was released, but then re-arrested and Samwel Nangiria, coordinator of the NGO named NGONET – one of the two (not “37”) local NGOs that used to speak up about land rights - was added to those arrested. These three were illegally detained for up to eleven days, while the law stipulates that those arrested should be granted bail, or taken to court, after 24 hours. A special task force from Dar es Salaam came to Loliondo for the interrogations, and it later transpired that Samwel and Supuk were badly beaten (tortured) during these interrogations and that Gabriel Killel of KIDUPO (the “investor-friendly” NGO in Loliondo) had been meeting with the task force before its arrival in Loliondo.


The CCM councillor of Ololosokwan, chairmen of Mondorosi and Kirtalo, a CHADEMA special seats councillor and her husband (ex -MP) were arrested more briefly and then released.


Bail wasn’t granted for Clinton, Supuk, and Samwel until advocate Shilinde Ngalula from Legal and Human Rights Centre was himself arrested in full court attire, Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition filed a habeas corpus Application, lawyers in Arusha held a manifestation and the Tanganyika Law Society issued a statement. The manifestation by lawyers raised hopes that there would finally be some proper reaction from outside Loliondo, but these hopes were not fulfilled, and when the whole of Tanzania went the same way, I supposed it was too late.


Later, in August 2016, was Maanda Ngoitiko of Pastoral Women’s Council, when summoned to Arusha Police Station to collect her passport, arrested illegally for three nights, taken to Loliondo, and added to Clinton, Supuk and Samwel’s rather bizarre espionage and sabotage charges based on the accusation of having been in contact with me. Samwel and Supuk were also charged with being in possession of “government documents” (not classified, but “government”), and Clinton was charged with having talked about a “stupid government” (in the context of low teachers’ salaries)! On 22nd December 2016, 60 days had passed since the last extension, and the plan was to file for dismissal, but as the magistrate chamber was full of police with handcuffs ready for re-arrest upon dismissal, the defence agreed to postpone until 19th January 2017 so that the prosecution could get more time for “investigation”.


On 22nd February 2017, the judge dismissed the case since it could not go on forever and the prosecution had now had more than enough time to prepare something coherent. Then followed a very swift re-arrest and the victims of malicious prosecution had to report at Loliondo police station every Friday for several months, while the Office of the Public Prosecutor continued its endless “investigation”, the result of which is yet to be revealed four years later. 

Many people, and even the NGOs, in Loliondo were silenced, but far from all, not even all of those illegally arrested and maliciously prosecuted in 2016. The complete silencing through intimidation would be done in 2018.


Gambo’s committee

In the press, Manyerere Jackton was calling for Prime Minister Majaliwa to return the threat against Loliondo revoked by his predecessor Pinda in 2013, and he was joined by Masyaga Matinyi in the Mtanzania. In November 2016, several newspapers were writing about a report by OBC themselves, on alarming destruction caused by the Maasai, which had also affected hunting activities, the quality of trophies, and their availability. OBC complained that Wildlife Conservation Act 2009 could not be enforced due to a “loophole”, and that basing hunting block fees on the whole 4,000 km2 LGCA isn’t “realistic”.


PM Majaliwa ordered on 15th December 2016 then Arusha RC Mrisho Gambo to “solve the conflict” via talks between villages and OBC and used the occasion to threaten the already silenced NGOs.


Gambo set up a select 27-member committee consisting of representatives of government organs, not least the various parastatals within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, “investors”, conservation organisations, NGOs, women and youths, and a few local political, traditional and religious leaders - to “find a solution” to the conflict. It was soon found that, among central government people, the “only ally” of the Loliondo Maasai, or of their leaders, was the RC himself who was viciously attacked by the usual OBC-supporting "journalist".


The much-weakened local leaders included in Gambo’s committee reached the conclusion that the only counter proposal that could work was the Wildlife Management Area that the Loliondo Maasai had successfully rejected for a decade and a half of pressure by the Government and Frankfurt Zoological Society. On 21st January 2017, the RC declared that there were two options: Game Controlled Area as in WCA 2009 (OBC’s proposal) or WMA.


The Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Jumanne Maghembe, soon showed equal commitment to OBC’s land use plan, as has been shown by Kagasheki in 2013. Despite of the ongoing talks, on 25th January 2017, Maghembe made an appearance in the 1,500 km2 Osero, and flanked by the “journalists” Manyerere Jackton, and Masyaga Matiny declared that the land had to be alienated before the end of March of that year. The Ngorongoro councillors issued a statement protesting Maghembe’s declaration, but the minister went on meeting the press with the same misleading rhetoric as was Kagasheki and was of course much praised in the Jamhuri. RC Gambo, however, declared that the work by his committee would continue. Some aggressive supporters of OBC’s rejected old land use plan were the director of TANAPA, Allan Kijazi (now Permanent Secretary to the MNRT), Regional Security Officer, Fratela Mapunda, and the Director of Wildlife, Alexander Songorwa.


Manyerere, Maghembe and Matinyi

On 5th–7th March 2017 the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Tourism – chaired by the late Atashasta Nditiye – was brought to Loliondo by Maghembe on a most co-opted visit, avoiding meeting community members, while most every supporter of the land alienation plan in the country was brought to lecture this committee. The one-sidedness was so extreme that several members protested being used to rubber stamp handing over the land to OBC. Maghembe and Serengeti Chief Park Warden William Mwakilema told the committee that funds from the German Development Bank (KfW) for the Serengeti Ecosystem Development Programme to be implemented by Serengeti National Park and FZS were subject to confirmation of the land use plan alienating the 1,500 Osero. Nothing was heard from the Germans confirming or denying this until two years later when in was denied by KfW representatives.


On 15th March 2017, some 600 women held a manifestation in Wasso town. The RC with his committee were in town to finalize their work and the women demanded a real solution to the land conflict with placards against losing more land, against OBC, and against the District Council accepting money from Germany, and after a decision by the District Council, the Council Chairman, Matthew Siloma, at least officially … refused to sign accepting the German pieces of silver.


On 17th -19th March 2017, the RC’s committee toured the area under threat from Ololosokwan southwards all the way to Piyaya and Malambo to mark “critical areas”, and at every place they were met with protests. Women were crying and screaming for the government to abandon the plans to take the land, some car mirrors were broken, and some protesters were detained by the police, the Regional Police Commander was ordered to arrest anyone interfering with the process, and the RC – our “only ally” - irrationally accused the protestors of being “bribed” by NGOs (the NGOs were in his own committee ...) and the tour operator &Beyond, using exactly the same slander as the OBC-friendly press had used against him.


In the afternoon of 21st March 2017, Gambo’s committee reached a proposal through voting – that a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) was the preferable alternative. The WMA proposal had been successfully rejected for a decade and a half and was now presented as a victory by the fatally weakened local leaders. On 20th April, in Dodoma, the committee’s final report was handed to PM Majaliwa who was to decide.


Illegal mass arson operation of 2017

On 8th August 2017, in the Oloosek area of Ololosokwan Ward, at a good distance from the national park, a Serengeti ranger opened fire and shot the herder Parmoson Ololoso, hitting him with three bullets, in both thighs and his left arm. This happened after a verbal disagreement in which the rangers were extorting him for money. Parmoson was taken to Wasso hospital where he just lost time and was discharged without proper treatment, until later his brother-in-law found him with a leg “like an engine” and took him for surgery in Nairobi.


Majaliwa didn’t announce his decision until almost eight months after having been handed the proposal by Gambo’s committee, and meanwhile the impossible happened. In 2015 I still used to be told reassuringly that the Maasai were no longer the Maasai of 1959. By 2016 that was sadly no longer being said. Still, nothing was supposed to happen while everyone was waiting for Majaliwa’s decision, but on 13th August 2017, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area rangers, assisted by OBC rangers, anti-poaching squads, local Loliondo police, and others set fire to five bomas in Oloosek, on village land and far from the national park. The rangers said they had orders to remove livestock, housing and people from the 1,500 km2 that OBC, Minister Maghembe, and others wanted to alienate from the villages. Leaders claimed to have been caught by surprise, and that they had only heard about an operation to remove people and livestock from Serengeti National Park. The DC was reportedly saying that the reason was that people and cattle were entering the national park “too easily”.


MP Olenasha, on 14th August in social media, said that he was deeply sorry, that he and other leaders were only aware of an operation to remove livestock from the National Park, had not been involved in anything else, that residing near the boundary isn’t against the law, and that they were doing all they could to stop the operation. Then the MP kept quiet in public for the rest of the operation, while bomas in one area after the other were burned to the ground.


The illegal operation would go on for over two months and hundreds of bomas were razed from Ololosokwan to Piyaya 90 km further south – most intensely between 13th and 26th August, but with scattered arson attacks well into October - there were beatings, illegal seizing and auctioning of cattle, herders were illegally arrested and taken to Mugumu at the other side of the national park. Village centres became congested with people and animals. Those returning after the arson were brutally beaten by the rangers who also destroyed makeshift shelters and blocked access to water sources. Women were raped by the rangers. The last day of the illegal operation some rangers shot 80 cows in Arash. There was terror and panic everywhere, and painful disappointment with the inaction of some leaders.


Soon appeared publicly a letter from DC Rashid Mfaume Taka, dated 5th August 2017. In this letter the DC orders the removal of livestock and housing from Serengeti National Park, and “bordering areas”. The order does of course not have any legal ground at all and should have been taken to a court of law as soon as being received. Another letter, written on behalf of the Chief Park Warden of Serengeti National Park Mwakilema to DC Rashid Mfaume Taka on 4th August, was also shared in social media, and revealed that the Ngorongoro Security Committee, headed by the DC, on 23rd June 2017 ordered Serengeti National Park to plan the operation to remove livestock from the park, and “from the boundary”. The letter also informs the DC that funds for the implementation have been obtained and that the TANAPA leadership had approved the operation.


On 17th August 2017, the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism issued a press statement explaining the “removal of cattle and housing from Serengeti National Park and the boundary of Loliondo Game Controlled Area”. In the words of the DC it’s explained that the operation in Loliondo GCA would take place on a 90 km stretch from north to south and with a width of 5 km – which means village land and is a confession of crime in black on white.


In OBC-friendly press the DC was quoted saying that the operation was not about removing people from the 1,500 km2, since the PM had not yet made his decision about that issue. Though the same article quotes Maghembe talking about the 1,500 km2 Loliondo “Game Reserve”, as if OBC’s land use plan would have been approved. Maghembe also says that NGOs are burning the bomas and in an article (NGO ya Uingereza yamjaribu Magufuli) by Manyerere Jackton published in the Jamhuri, the DC who when believed to be of another kind than his predecessors had been badly defamed by the journalist, was now, after having ordered the illegal operation, quoted as a someone just stating the truth. The DC says – as is also shown by a map prepared by TANAPA for the illegal operation - that 89 bomas had been burned inside Serengeti National Park and 241 bomas or ronjos in the 5 km “border area” (village land). The DC and the MNRT were saying that village land had been invaded because people were entering the national park too easily, while Maghembe went on undisturbed for 30 minutes on Azam tv showing the map from the land use plan rejected in 2011, pretending that it had been implemented and that the Maasai had invaded their own land. He also repeated some of Manyerere Jackton’s slander of people, but without remembering exactly which lies he was supposed to tell about each person.

TANAPA's map clearly shows that most bomas were burned illegally on village land. Those inside the park were in an area where there was an unoffical agreement with rangers (same as 2015). 


On 22nd August 2017, while Loliondo was burning, a smiling German ambassador was seen all over media, in the framework of the Serengeti Ecosystem Development and Conservation Project, handing over office and residential buildings for park staff in Fort Ikoma, in Serengeti National Park, to an equally smiling Minister Maghembe, while commenting on the long and successful partnership between Germany and Tanzania in protecting the Serengeti.


While the MP kept shockingly silent many other local political leaders spoke up in protest quite early, like the councillor and the chairman of Ololosokwan. Onesmo Olengurumwa of Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition sent out an urgent alert already the first day of arson, and on 30th August, together with a delegation from Loliondo, he submitted official complaints to the government organ Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG/THBUB). The international organisation IWGIA sent out an urgent alert and Survival International sent a letter to President Magufuli, various Tanzanian authorities and international organisations. Reportedly the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples wrote to Magufuli as well. Not one word was heard from the already silenced two local NGOs, even if they must have worked hard behind the scenes.


On 4th September 2017, CHRAGG issued an interim order to stop the evictions and demanded that the government explain the operation - but the crimes continued unabated despite the order.


On Thursday 21st September 2017, a court case was finally filed in the East African Court of Justice by the villages of Ololosokwan, Kirtalo, Oloirien and Arash against the Attorney General of the United Republic of Tanzania.


On 23rd September, after heading the commissioning ceremony of officer cadets Magufuli addressed the nation at Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium in Arusha. Among the placards held by the audience, those against Maghembe, OBC and the abuse and attacks against land rights in Loliondo stood out.


On 5th October, the senator of Narok County in Kenya, Ledama Olekina, took a delegation from Ololosokwan to see the Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga and seek his support defending their land, asking him to speak with President Magufuli. Raila agreed to do so and is said to have reported back that his friend Magufuli had told him that everyone involved in the operation would be fired.


The “only ally” RC Mrisho Gambo never spoke up with one word against this massive horror.


Kigwangalla became a hero and then U-turned

On 7th October 2017, Magufuli announced a cabinet reshuffle which included the good news that Maghembe was removed as Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism and the new minister was the former Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Hamisi Kigwangalla, who sadly in his earlier capacity had shown ignorance and total disregard for human rights.


On 11th October 2017, a public meeting to which the press had been invited was held in Ololosokwan. The local Maasai expressed their happiness over the sacking of Maghembe and pleaded with Kigwangalla to come and visit them to hear their side of the story instead of listening to rumours. The Ololosokwan ward councillor, Yannick Ndoinyo, thanked the president for firing Maghembe, but said there was more to do. He stressed that the village land was registered in every way, but was still invaded, and he asked the president to explain the situation to all ministers for natural resources and tourism, so that they leave village land in peace. The CCM secretary of Ololosokwan ward, Saibulu Letema, spoke about the serious loss of cows that people depend on, and of OBC’s habit of bribing every minister for natural resources and tourism. And a long line of local people from several villages spoke up about the still ongoing abuse.


Kigwangalla’s initial mentions of Loliondo didn’t make sense, and sparked fears that he had already heard from OBC, but in a meeting with tourism stakeholders in Dodoma on 22nd October 2017, Kigwangalla revoked all hunting blocks issued in 2017 saying that permits would be re-applied through auction. Though hunting blocks with conflict, like Loliondo and Lake Natron, would not be renewed until the conflicts were solved! The same day surfaced a timetable for a visit by Kigwangalla to Loliondo on the 26th – 27th.


On 26th October 2017 there was a public meeting in Wasso and Kigwangalla put stop to the criminal “operation”, and ordered cows not involved in any court case to be released, not only in Loliondo, but all over Tanzania where someone under his ministry was holding cows instead of doing conservation work. He described the fundamental problem as the increase of people and cattle (which those who want to take their land have been telling the Maasai for a century or so), not mentioning the immense value of the land for outside interests, like investors and conservation organisations, and made other statements showing a lack of understanding of power relation. His ultimate message was that the conflict was now on Majaliwa’s table. Though to those who were there Kigwangalla had become an instant hero, they said that he understood everything but had to express himself in a diplomatic way. The following day, after a tour with the defenders of the human right crimes, in Ololosokwan Kigwangalla declared that OBC’s hunting block would not be renewed. It all seemed too good to be true.


Unsurprisingly, the frontpage of the 31st October issue of the Jamhuri, OBC’s journalist Manyerere Jackton in big red letters proclaimed that Kigwangalla messed up, that he issued an order contradicting the one of the president, that he ordered a stop to the operation removing livestock from protected areas, that workers say they won’t implement it unless given written instructions, and that he’s revoked the hunting blocks granted by Maghembe. Manyerere pretended that Kigwangalla had stopped an operation in a protected area when what’s stopped was an illegal attack on village land.


Later, after he had U-turned, Kigwangalla would be mentioned in an appreciative way in the Jamhuri, but when he wanted to remove another UAE hunting company, Green Mile Safari, from Lake Natron GCA, he was again accused of various wrongdoings.


On 3rd November 2017, both Channel 10 and ITV had news pieces with rangers complaining about cattle in Loliondo, and on 4th November Serengeti rangers illegally seized cows on village land, and drove them into Serengeti National Park, to the Lobo area. The same day, Kigwangalla returned to Loliondo on a surprise visit and the following day surfaced information that he would have fired the Director of Wildlife, Alexander Songorwa, on suspicions that Songorwa would have shared secret government information (about the surprise visit) with the press and fabricated stories to incite conflict in Loliondo. Kigwangalla accused Songorwa of following the directions of OBC. In a video from Loliondo Kigwangalla strongly and clearly declared that he was going to clean up his house. Rangers from Klein’s gate had worked for the “investor”, invading village land, and they would be transferred. Kigwangalla had witnessed a corruption syndicate at the service of OBC and this reached all the way into his ministry. He had directed PCCB to investigate OBC for corruption, starting with questioning the director, Isaack Mollel, who had been boasting everywhere about having bribed his predecessors with 200,000 US dollars, while saying that 100,000 would be enough for this little boy Kigwangalla.  "Siwezi kujaribiwa na siwezi kuchezewa, siko hapa kwa bahati mbaya" is the title of the video on Youtube. Such talk had never been heard from a Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism.


The happiness did not last long. On 14th November 2017, Kigwangalla reported in social media that he the previous day met with development partners from Germany. The delegation was headed by Detlef Wachter, Ambassador of Germany in Tanzania, and the Germans were going to fund community development projects in Loliondo, “in our quest to save the Serengeti”. Even some councillors seemed surprised by Kigwangalla’s news and made phone calls that confirmed that the chairman had indeed signed the German money - that 600 women had protested in March, and the District Council decided not to sign. The chairman himself said he had not signed, but was going to very soon, since it was such a wonderful project, and didn’t have anything to do with the threat against the 1,500 km2 Osero … Later the MP and the Council Chairman, who both had been shockingly silent during the illegal operation, held a meeting in Ololosokwan to tell people about the ongoing efforts to solve the land conflict of many years, to explain and remove people’s fears about the German funds for development projects. I know that the MP knew better than almost anyone that the Germans aren’t less dangerous than OBC.


Time passed and OBC didn’t show any sign of packing. In social media OBC’s assistant director (now councillor from 2020) told me his employer was there to stay and that I would have a heart attack, while OBC’s PR officer informed me that, "OBC is waiting for you to come and pack them off".


On 6th December 2017, PM Majaliwa finally delivered his long-awaited decision about the 1,500 km2, and the decision was a big and terrifying disappointment. The PM hadn’t chosen between a WMA or a GCA 2009 but decided “something else”. Many people had been present, but nobody seemed to have understood very well, since Majaliwa first had said many nice and promising words. The only thing that everyone had heard clearly was that OBC would stay. A brief press statement the following day made things somewhat, but not much, clearer. The PM had ordered the MNRT to prepare a legal bill with the aim of forming a “special authority” to manage Loliondo Game Controlled Area, to protect the ecosystem of Serengeti National Park, while benefitting all sides, and this was to be rushed through to be included in the 2018/2019 budget.


On 8th December 2017, ward councillors and village chairmen from Loliondo and Sale (Malambo ward) held a press conference. The statement was weak considering the circumstances, expressing contentment that the government acknowledged that the MNRT has invaded legally registered village land, that the operation violated the law, that the PM recognised the Maasai as natural conservationists, that interests of each stakeholder will be considered, and villagers will be involved at the highest levels of the organ that’s to administer the land. Then the statement addressed the unanswered questions saying that village and ward leaders will be ready to participate in the process if the ownership of village land and land use of local people will be respected, the discussion period is extended from two months to two years, investors are put under community control, the whole program is initiated at village level and not by specialists from the concerned ministries, and legal measures are taken against everyone involved in human rights violations, including Maghembe.


In the Jamhuri newspaper, Manyerere Jackton celebrated Majaliwa’s decision (Asante Sana Waziri Mkuu, Uhifadhi Umeshinda, 12.12.2017).


Early on there were rumours that the legal bill to form the “special authority” was needed, since the 1,500 km2 would be placed under the Ngorongoro Conservation Area where hunting is otherwise not allowed.


On 13th December 2017, the then still CCM secretary general and OBC’s old friend since the early 1990s, Abdulraham Kinana, visited Kigwangalla’s Nzega Rural constituency, and together they handed out motorbikes to CCM workers.


Kigwangalla didn’t comment on the fact that OBC were staying until 5th February 2018, and then it was in a Whatsapp group where he said that only Mollel was troublesome, and would be removed, and that with the “new structure” Loliondo needed more investors like OBC, Thomson and &Beyond. On 23rd March Kigwangalla commented openly on photos from yet another visit to Loliondo by Sheikh Mohammed and his crown prince. Kigwangalla welcomed the hunters and asked them to be ambassadors for Tanzania. When questioned by Zitto Kabwe if those weren’t the OBC that he drove away, Kigwangalla said that the problem wasn’t the hunters, but the arrogance of some of their staff, and the grazing pressure!


In a ceremony of open daylight corruption on 19th April 2018, OBC’s assistant director (now sadly councillor for Ololosokwan since 2020), as had been done before, handed over 15 Toyota Landcruisers to the acting Director of Wildlife, Nebbo Mwina. Mwina said that the government recognised the continued important contributions by OBC, wanted them to continue developing the long-time relationship, and not despair because of underground talk. James Wakibara, director of the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA) also thanked OBC, and especially the company’s director Mollel who was unable to attend. Kigwangalla didn’t attend either.


Then, on 10th May when the Oakland Institute, somewhat late to the game, with strong media coverage released a report about Loliondo and NCA, Kigwangalla went insane lying and insulting people online in the most classic style of the Loliondo police state. The MNRT released a statement, signed by Kigwangalla, in which the operation that he himself had stopped was denied and described as misleading reports to tarnish the name of the government and create dispute between government, the local community and investors with intent to cause breach of peace. The statement also said that the government through the PM’s office took steps to resolve the dispute that included all stakeholders such as NGOs, investors and the local people, and that these measures are underway, and the government will issue an official statement to that effect. After that and until he left office, Kigwangalla kept saying that a “solution” had been reached through agreement between all stakeholders. Still, nobody in Loliondo can tell what that solution is.


Intimidation drive to derail the case in the EACJ, unbelievable perjury, and interim orders that were soon violated

The Tanzanian government side (Attorney General) had initially tried to stop the case in the East African Court of Justice via a preliminary objection that the villages could not sue the government, since they were part of this same government. This objection was dismissed by the court on 25th January 2018.


The last week of May 2018, the efforts to derail the case moved on to an intimidation campaign against leaders and common villagers in the villages that had sued the government. There were multiple arrests and summons to the police station, and these illegal efforts terrified and silenced everyone. Nobody dared to speak up about this abuse, except Donald Deya, the lead counsel of the Applicant villages.


The village chairmen were summoned to the police station, and questioned on why they sued the government, on who gave them the authority to do so, and on whether they had the unequivocal support of the villagers to sue. When they presented evidence in the form of meeting minutes from the respective villages, they were accused of having forged these. The chairmen of the villages of Ololosokwan, Kirtalo, and Arash were arrested and released on the condition that they present themselves at Loliondo police station every Friday, which effectively prevented them from attending a hearing in Arusha on 7th June.


On 9th November 2017, the government side (Attorney General) had responded lying that the area affected by the 2017 operation would already be the kind of protected area that was proposed in the rejected 2010-2030 land use plan, and that OBC (and others) have continued lobbying for, but this didn’t prevent them from at the hearing on 7th June 2018 change their lie to claiming that the 2017 operation would only have taken place inside Serengeti National Park! Not even the fact that the DC’s order, the statement from the ministry, and TANAPA’s map all clearly showed that village land was invaded could stop them from making up this lie – and it would get worse … The court requested Applicants and Respondent to produce expert witnesses that could testify about the boundary of the national park.


On 25th September 2018, there was finally some good news when the court delivered its ruling on Application No.15 of 2017, and issued interim orders restraining the respondent from any evictions, burning of homesteads, or confiscating of cattle, and from harassing or intimidating the applicants. Sadly, these interim orders would soon be violated, without any consequences.


In December 2018, the witnesses from the government side - DC Rashid Mfaume Taka, DED Raphael Siumbu, park warden Julius Francis Musei, geographical information system officer Alli Kassim Shakha, and even wildlife officer Nganana Mothi – swore affidavits claiming that the 2017 mass arson operation would only have taken place in Serengeti National Park. This was quite outrageous perjury when it was the DC himself who on 5th August 2017 issued the order for the illegal invasion of village land and had been quoted about it both in a statement from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and in the OBC-loyal press. As said, a map from TANAPA, used by the attackers during the operation, also clearly shows that most bomas were burned on village land.


The bizarre case of mistaken identity

A Belgian nurse attended the wedding of my since May 2018 silenced friend Clinton Kairung in Kirtalo on Tuesday 11th September 2018, accompanied by two Tanzanian friends according to some accounts, and reportedly left for Ngaresero the following day where she was arrested and returned to Loliondo.


On Friday 14th, the other teacher who used to be habitually harassed about me, Supuk Olemaoi, was called to be questioned by the Officer Commanding Criminal Investigation Division of Ngorongoro District. According to his own account (shared openly in social media on the 15th), Supuk had received the Belgian wedding guest upon her arrival in Wasso on Tuesday 11th and took her to the Immigration office so that her visit would run smoothly (this will often work the other way though). On Tuesday evening when leaving the wedding, Supuk got a text message saying that I would have been sighted in Wasso and the police was looking for me, which he of course had to disregard for its absurdity, since I was in Sweden, but on Wednesday night he got a phone call saying that I would have been arrested at Ngaresero, and Supuk knew that the Belgian wedding guest had left for Ngaresero in the morning.


While waiting to be questioned on Friday 14th, Supuk was told to phone Clinton and direct him to come as well. After three hours Supuk was questioned by the Ngorongoro Security Committee, and told them what he knew about the Belgian wedding guest under arrest. Clinton arrived and was questioned around 6pm. Thereafter, Clinton was arrested, and on Saturday morning, 15th September, taken to Arusha, together with his wedding guest, and probably the two people accompanying her.


I started suspecting that something wasn’t right when I on Friday morning (14th) got an email from the “journalist” Manyerere Jackton – but nobody I asked had heard anything at all. The “journalist” was greeting me and asking if I was in Loliondo, before getting into the usual one-liner insults. Later the same day I was contacted by people saying that some individuals close to OBC were commenting that I had been arrested after crossing the border in Ngaresero, in the vehicle of an NGO! In the evening Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition had just been informed and sent out a news brief saying that that they were making close follow up to know the truth of the incident, the reasons for the arrest, and the police station in which the guests and Clinton were currently detained. I shared THRDC’s news alert looking for more exact information, but nobody knew anything. The only thing I heard was that the grapevine indeed was saying that the arrested Belgian wedding guest was I.


On Saturday 15th some people knew that those illegally arrested had been taken to Arusha, but that nothing would happen until Monday. It seemed like the only reason for the arrests was that the Belgian wedding guest was accused of being me, but nobody gave me any direction as to what I could do about that. I contacted the Embassy of Belgium, and I took a photo under an apple tree, with my passport, and my laptop showing the date, to prove that I was in Sweden, sent it to some people, and posted it where I was certain that those behind the arrest would see it. As mentioned, on Saturday night a first-hand witness, Supuk who had received the Belgian wedding guest in Wasso, and who was questioned by the security committee, finally wrote a brief report, and I spent the night writing a blog post.


Lawyers sent by THRDC were at the police station on Monday 17th, and in the evening, those illegally arrested were released without charges. Fingerprints had proven the wedding guest to be innocent of the “crime” of being me. If the law had been of any consideration, they would instead have been granted bail, or taken to court within 48 hours.


On Tuesday 18th, the Jamhuri newspaper published the usual insane fabrications in which Manyerere Jackton told a story that the Belgian wedding guest had been arrested for “espionage” since she would have collected information for the international press to stir up conflict in Loliondo. She would have been arrested in Ngaresero while fleeing from the police (Akamatwa kwa ujasusi Loliondo 18.9.2018). Though most of the article consisted of the “journalist’s” usual fantasies about me. This was only one of the many cases clearly showing that this "journalist" fabricates stories just as he sees fit.


On Thursday 20th there was a soberer article in the Guardian. Arusha regional police commander, Ramadhani Ng'anzi, admitted that it was a case of mistaken identity, but claimed that the police and Immigration when they received a “tip-off” had a duty to act swiftly and decisively. Though they do obviously not have a duty to uphold the Loliondo police state for the “investors”. Quite the contrary! and they know very well that the “investor friends” with their tip-offs don’t have any credibility whatsoever. Ng’anzi also claimed that there was a “striking similarity” between the wedding guest and me, which I didn’t see when googling.


The Belgian wedding guest was too terrified to have any communication at all with me. It’s a fact that the police and Immigration have my phone number, or can easily get hold of it if they’ve lost it, and many of the very unpleasant “investor friends” see me almost daily in social media. It would seem like this was just another attempt at creating chaos and fear, but there is also a lot of genuine stupidity among “investor friends”.


JWTZ soldiers working for OBC committed human rights crimes

Around 24th March 2018, the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (JWTZ) camp was set up in Lopolun near Wasso town with some 40 soldiers. There is not any evidence at all that these soldiers would have been involved in the intimidation drive to derail the EACJ case, which was conducted by the police, but some people were worried about what the reason for the military camp could be, and thought it contributed to the fearful silence about the abuse. Others thought the camp was there for border issues and normal soldier work.


Between late June and late August 2018, the soldiers attacked and tortured several groups of people far from the Serengeti boundary while claiming to be “protecting” the national park. Even the former councillor Kundai was one of their victims. They also attacked four men in Sukenya, and what those victims had in common was that Thomson Safaris accuse them of inciting others to graze their animals on the land occupied by this American tour operator.


Not one single leader, or anyone else, spoke up about these attacks.


Apparently, OBC rangers – some of whom had been accompanying the soldiers - joined the abuse. Sometime in mid-July 2018 they allegedly committed armed robbery against businessmen from Mondorosi. Sensationally, the rangers were arrested by the local police, and then their case was transferred to regional level in Arusha. This led Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalitions to on 12th August 2018 issue a statement in which the Loliondo police were mentioned as an example of positive police work! Though this case was dismissed, and the rangers released.


On 8th November 2018, the soldiers started beating people and chasing them and their cattle away from Mambarashani in Kirtalo where OBC were preparing their camp. Information was piecemeal, coming from over a dozen people, many whom I’d never been in contact with before, but nobody at all was speaking up publicly.


At Kishoshoro, Ngari Potot was so savagely beaten that the soldiers broke his arm and his leg. On 14th November, the attackers started burning down bomas in the areas from where they were chasing away people and livestock, while the silence continued. Motorcycles were confiscated, and the soldiers stole goats.


Absolutely nobody at all was speaking up, not ward or village leaders, not customary leaders, not the NGOs, not any women’s groups, and certainly not the MP who didn’t even say anything during the illegal operation of 2017. Even some activists who had gone to the United Kingdom to decolonise museum artefacts refused to mention the ongoing crimes in flagrant violation of court orders. Everyone, also all young, educated people and those who weren’t silenced in 2016, were silent. People seemed convinced that the arson attacks were ordered by the highest level of government, which is the president, and that I was far away while they had their families in Tanzania, and bad things could happen to them. This was worse than anything I had experienced during my decade of following the Loliondo land struggle. The panicked silence was heart-breaking and infuriating. How could the same people who just five years earlier gained the support of CCM, CHADEMA, and international organizations when Kagasheki was threatening them, now be unable to speak up in any way when soldiers were burning their houses?


Besides Kirtalo, areas of Ololosokwan, like Oloirien, Endashata, and Mederi were attacked. The soldiers were telling their victims that they were beaten for having sued the government, and that the land was a “corridor”.


On 16thNovember, cows belonging to some people from Ololosokwan were caught and driven to Lobo in Serengeti National Park where the soldiers wanted to hand them over to the park rangers that refused. Instead, the cows were released among predators at night! Some of the bomas burned were those of Shungur and of Cosmas Leitura in the Oloirien area, and a couple of days later, on 19th November the Kuyo, Lukeine, and Masago bomas were burned in Orkimbai in Kirtalo. These were just some of the cases of arson.


In the morning of 21st November 2018, the council chairman, the district CCM chairman, and some village chairmen went to ask DC Rashid Mfaume Taka about the soldier violence. The DC, the criminal who officially ordered the illegal operation of 2017, denied any knowledge about what was taking place.


The Serengeti rangers then joined the attacks. On 22nd November 2018, some people from Arash were brutally beaten for hours by the rangers at Lobo when they were to pay so-called “fines” for their sheep and goats that had been caught illegally outside the national park. On 26th November the Serengeti rangers caught several herds of cattle at Mambarashani, and drove them to Lobo in the national park to claim that they were found there. They demanded 100,000 Tanzanian shillings per head of cattle for the release, which would have been extortionate even if the “fines” had been legal, but now it was pure gangster extortion. The “fines” were paid, I don’t know if after negotiation, and the cows were released.


The soldier brutality was renewed for Christmas. On 19th December the elderly ole Shura was beaten by soldiers in Kirtalo, and on 20th December the same crime was committed in Ololosokwan against ole Masiaya. These old men were just out walking. Mzee ole Masiaya, who was from Ngorongoro looking for work in Ololoskwan, was too weak to get on a motorbike to the dispensary, but was brought medicine, and reportedly recovered. He was beaten for no reason, even when he’s the kind of person that the plan is to turn everyone in Loliondo into: destitute and under the yoke of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The soldiers also attacked a 15-year-old boy and a 25-year-old pregnant woman who was in the company of children, and they claimed to be looking for “Kenyan cows”.


Also, on 20th December, the army soldiers drove cattle from village land in Oloosek to Klein’s gate, and from a couple of other areas in Ololosokwan. Apparently, the park warden this time didn’t want the cows, and they were released without charge.


In the morning of 21st December 2018, the soldiers descended upon the Leken area in Karkamoru sub-village of Kirtalo burning to the ground 12 or 13 bomas with all belongings inside. The cows were out, but young lambs and goat kids died in the fire. The names of whom the bomas belonged to that were reported to me are Toroge, Moniko, Salaash, Shura, Kimeriay, Parmwat, Sepere, and Nguya. A 65-year old man and two pregnant women were beaten. Then, around 2 pm it started raining heavily. At the Saturday market in Soitsambu on 22nd December people from Leken were buying big polyethylene sheets. The victims of arson in Leken stayed in place in makeshift tents, and started rebuilding.


The day after the mass arson of 12 or 13 bomas a completely new kind of message from DC Rashid Mfaume Taka was shared in Whatsapp groups saying that he had been informed while out of the district, was sorry about what had happened in Karkamoru and had commissioned a team to go to the area. The DC assured people that there was not any “operation” and that they should go on with their economic activities.


Later it was revealed that Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, had been expected in Loliondo the days before Christmas, but postponed his trip. The king had already visited Loliondo at least once before, and a cargo plane from the Royal Moroccan Air Force had already landed this time too.


On 7th January 2019, DC Rashid Mfaume Taka again ordered arrests of the secondary school teachers Clinton and Supuk (who wasn’t saved by having joined CCM), and they were kept locked up until the 13th. The “reason” for these arrests – that coincided with a visit to the district by RC Gambo - was only confirmed later when I was told that the only thing that they had been questioned about was having met with me at Olpusimoru market in Kenya on 6th January 2019, which obviously isn’t a crime, and none of us had been there, since I was in Sweden and Clinton and Supuk were in Tanzania.


On 8th January 2019, two people from Mondorosi were added to those arrested: Manyara Karia, former chairwoman of Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC), and Kapolonto ole Nanyoi from Enadooshoke. Manyara had attended a meeting at the Nanyoi boma for traditional and practical preparations after the death of an old man, but “someone” had reported that it was an uchochezi (sedition) meeting with white people present. Kapolonto was picked for being the closest relative of the boma owner who was fit enough and available to be arrested. The Nanyoi boma is near the land occupied by Thomson Safaris, which has caused the Nanyoi’s many problems through the years.


On 9th January 2019, Onesmo Olengurumwa of Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) sent advocate Samson Rumende to process bail, but in Loliondo he was denied access to those arrested. In the evening THRDC published a news alert, without much information since the accusations had still not been revealed. On Thursday 10th January, advocate Nicholas ole Senteu suffered an accident when on the way to help with the release, and his mission was interrupted. Authorities kept blocking access to those detained, and denying bail, claiming that the Ngorongoro Security Committee first had to investigate and interrogate, which had been delayed due to the RC’s visit to the district. According to Tanzanian law, after 24 hours a detained person must be either granted bail, or taken to court, but as known, Loliondo is lawless.


Surprisingly, a brief article was published in the Mwananchi newspaper. In this article, the usual “uchochezi” is mentioned as the reason for the arrest (Wanne wakamatwa kwa tuhuma za uchochezi Loliondo, 10.1.2019). An anonymous policeman is quoted as saying that some of the accusations concern associating with activists from outside the country and sharing false information about Loliondo in social media.


On Sunday 13th January, Onesmo Olengurumwa of THRDC – the only person from Loliondo, even if he lives in Dar es Salaam, who still dared to sometimes speak up (but not about the soldier violence …) - issued a statement condemning the illegal arrests, briefly describing the situation in Loliondo, and the fact that illegal arrests are far too common in Tanzania. THRDC called on the Loliondo police to immediately release those arrested, on the Minister of Home Affairs and the Inspector General of Police to take measures against the Ngorongoro Officer Commanding District and against the Arusha Regional Police Commander. In the evening Clinton, Supuk, and Kapolonto were released without charges.


At some time later the same year 2019, Supuk and Clinton were promoted to school inspectors, and as far as I know they have not been arrested again.


As mentioned, Arusha RC Mrisho Gambo, visited Ngorongoro District in January 2019. Surprisingly – since nobody other than I had previously spoken up - together with MP Olenasha on 12th January 2019 he made a statement against the burning of bomas committed by soldiers in November and December 2018. Though this statement was so vague that it was almost unrecognizable. The RC said that people’s bomas have been burned, and the process doing this wasn’t very pleasing to see. He warned unspecified leaders against being used for private interests by someone controlling things in Ngorongoro via remote control and said that measures must be taken through the district and regional security committees, following the law, and showing an element of humanity. Then he praised the MP (and deputy minister) for being very diplomatic, wise, and a great lobbyist. Neither “soldiers” nor “OBC” were mentioned by the RC. After this, the panicked local leaders who had not dared to speak up since they thought the soldier attacks were ordered by the president changed to believing that OBC’s director Isaack Mollel had directly contracted the soldiers.


A few days later president Magufuli made a statement about not being happy seeing pastoralists and cultivators evicted all over the country, and therefore he had ordered the immediate suspension of operations to remove villages claimed to be situated in protected areas. There was more to this statement, and eventually it was clear that it did not have anything at all to do with Loliondo – and was mostly nonsense about old non-protected GCAs - but before that there was much tearful praise for the president who was thought to have put an end to so many years of terror and abuse, which is what some maybe sincerely believed he had done.


The unexpected arrest of OBC’s director

The first week of February 2019, ten Pakistani nationals who had been doing temporary work for OBC from November 2018 were arrested for not having obtained the required work permits as drivers, mechanics, painters and cooks. They were charged, and released on bail, but had to remain in Tanzania for court hearings. RC Gambo wanted the employer, OBC’s director, Isaack Mollel, to be arrested as well, but the police were reluctant to do this. When Minister of Home Affairs Kangi Lugola came to Arusha for a tour of the region, Gambo complained to him that some police were barring criminals from being arrested, and on 13th February the minister ordered the arrest of Mollel, who then showed up, was charged, and released on bail.


Mollel failed to show up at a court hearing on 22nd February, since he was being questioned by the Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau, PCCB/TAKUKURU (well over a year after Kigwangalla said that he had ordered this) and the hearing was postponed. On 4th March 2019 Mollel and OBC (this is what PCCB’s statement said) were charged on ten counts of economic crimes between 2010 and 2018, most concerning the importation of a considerable number of vehicles for OBC from Dubai, and the accusations were about economic sabotage and money laundering. PCCB had found Mollel to several times have forged documents, lied to the Tanzania Revenue Authority with the aim of tax evasion, and registered his own vehicle as belonging to OBC. Mollel didn’t have to answer these charges, since the court wasn’t able to hear the case, and it was adjourned until 18th March. Mollel was locked up in Kisongo remand prison because of the unbailable economic sabotage case, and the work permit charges was another separate case.


According to usually informed sources, MP Majaliwa wrote a letter saying that Mollel should not be disturbed, and that both Majaliwa and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism had requested that the temporary workers should be released. If true, this didn’t work.


Ten charges about employing foreign nationals were dismissed and then Mollel instead got 37 new charges concerning this same case. There were 27 other workers, but those had left the country, while the original 10 had to stay in Tanzania until October 2019 when they paid a fine, and ended a long and costly stay in Tanzania.


The PCCB case was adjourned since it was still being investigated.


Quite sensationally, it seems like initially someone at PCCB was serious about the issue of OBC’s many years of lobbying for terror and land alienation and about the incredibly corrupt local police state, when on 29th March 2019 who had until February 2019 been Ngorongoro District Security Officer, Issa Ng’itu, was charged on fifteen counts of corruption, submitting false documents, and forgery between 2017 and 2019. The charges concerned Ng’itu several times receiving money – in total over 10 million Tanzanian shillings - from Mollel while knowing that this is against the law, having bought (or otherwise obtained) a Landcruiser Prado from Mollel, and together with Mollel having forged different documents relating to this vehicle. According to Ayo TV, the money transactions were found on Ng’itu’s SIM-card. Three more charges were added to Mollel’s case. Though then nothing more was heard about Ng’itu, and eventually it was revealed that his case had been dismissed, and he was promoted to Regional Security Officer in Rukwa.


After this, Mollel’s case just kept being postponed while he kept being locked up, in an all too familiar way, usually suffered by innocent people that someone want to punish. Mollel wrote to the Director of Public Prosecution declaring his will to confess economic crimes and repay the money, but not even this had any effect. While being a thoroughly evil person, Mollel was obviously being used to send a message. He wasn’t released until 2nd October 2020, and allegedly this was after an intervention by PM Majaliwa.


I haven’t been able to find out why, after all these years of OBC as untouchable, Mollel was locked up in remand prison for such a long time. The most common explanation is that the aim was to send a message to Abdulrahim Kinana, who’s been close to OBC and to Sheikh Mohammed since the early 1990s, and by extension to Bernard Membe. As known, both were not viewed favourably by Magufuli. It’s also known that Mollel had clashes of egos with both Kigwangalla and RC Gambo. Some OBC supporters from outside Loliondo shared the theory that Gambo wanted to favour the investor &Beyond, while those from Loliondo (the few who would say anything at all) just said that Mollel was fine and that Sheikh Mohammed would soon make another visit. Supporters of MP Olenasha give him the credit for Mollel’s misfortunes, and maybe he at last got something in return for his silence during extreme abuse.


While the local police state could continue as before, Mollel’s stay in remand prison had some positive consequences on the ground in Loliondo. All OBC’s activities, except for an “anti-poaching” patrol vehicle, ceased, and herders were no longer being harassed.


First, I was unable to find out what Mollel was doing after his release. Only a lower level OBC employee told me that he was in Dubai. Though later several people reported that he was seen in Loliondo in early March 2021 and is now working on another visit by Sheikh Mohammed.


During Mollel’s time as director there have been two major illegal operations on village land, with massive human rights crimes, in 2009 and 2017, and OBC have funded a rejected draft land use plan proposing turning the 1,500 km2 Osero of important grazing land that’s OBC’s core hunting area into a “protected area”. The Loliondo police state - with every government official at the service of the “investors”, and where anyone who could speak up will be threatened, called to the security committee, or illegally arrested, has worsened considerably during Mollel’s time, with further acceleration since 2016, and in 2018 soldiers were used to beat up people in the areas of most interest to OBC, and to burn down their houses. Mollel has several times exposed his “theory” about land in Loliondo in media - that OBC are innocent victims of destructive Maasai, “Kenyans”, NGOs, and other tour operators “invading” the hunting block  - and his journalist, Manyerere Jackton, has done it even more frequently with amazing hate rhetoric and unhinged slander. Though this journalist is since Mollel’s arrest lying low about Loliondo, but has become active in the eviction plans for Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which are plans to which the Osero in Loliondo has been included, just like OBC’s long-term wishes.


Sadly, Mollel’s many accomplices, except for the DSO very briefly, have been left undisturbed. They include the DCs Jowika Kasunga, Elias Wawa Lali, Hashim Mgandilwa, and the current Rashid Mfaume Taka, as well as all ministers for natural resources and tourism since Mwangunga, with special mentions for Kagasheki and Maghembe.


JWTZ soldiers killing Yohana "Babuche" Saidea in Wasso town

The soldiers that since March 2018 had been camping at Lopolun, near Wasso town, also became a problem for non-pastoralist townspeople, acting violent and bullying people.


On 2nd April 2019, Yohana "Babuche" Saidea passed away after having suffered frequent fainting and headaches following being abducted and tortured by the soldiers on 7th March. This murder doesn't, as far as I know, have anything to do with OBC, but with the Loliondo police state that's developed to serve them.


When reached by the tragic news, youths of Wasso town organised a peaceful manifestation to the DC’s office. There weren’t any statements from leaders, except for a post in social media by the district CCM chairman Ndirango Laizer expressing his condolences and saying that CCM was to follow up and make sure those responsible are dealt with.


Reportedly, the District Administrative Secretary advised Babuche’s parents to see the Officer Commanding District (OCD), instead of the DC, and the OCD in his turn advised them to sit down and “negotiate” with the soldiers!


I was told that on 3rd April 2019 Babuche’s parents opened a murder case, which the OCD had advised against, but then I haven’t been able to get any updates at all. All (around forty) soldiers at the camp were transferred somewhere else and new ones arrived – instead of the criminals being arrested and taken to court … Babuche was one of Loliondo’s best football players.


A genocidal NCA Multiple Land Use Model review proposal includes the land wanted by OBC

The Maasai of Loliondo are in most aspects better off than those of Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) and much of their land rights activism has originated from the fear of being turned into something like NCA.


When the Maasai were evicted from Serengeti in 1959 by the colonial government, as a compromise deal, they were guaranteed the right to continue occupying Ngorongoro Conservation Area as a multiple land-use area administered by the government, in which natural resources would be conserved primarily for their interest, but with due regard for wildlife. This promise was not kept, and tourism revenue has turned into the paramount interest, while the human rights situation has deteriorated, which was worsened by the designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1975, the Maasai living inside Ngorongoro Crater were violently evicted, and the same year cultivation was prohibited in NCA. This cultivation ban was lifted in 1992, but re-introduced in 2009 after threats from the UNESCO. The people of NCA, living under the authoritarian rule of the NCAA, are not allowed to grow crops or build modern houses, and have the past years been losing access to one grazing area after the other. They lost grazing and saltlicks in Ngorongoro crater in 2017, which chief conservator Freddy Manongi stretched to include the Northern Highland Forest, Embakaai and Olmoti craters as well as the Lake Ndutu basin (through order and without required change to the Ordinance and without the MP speaking up in objection). As a result, the Maasai residents of NCA are suffering from high levels of child malnutrition, while throughout the years they have been shaken by rumours and threats of eviction.


In March 2019, a joint monitoring mission from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) once again visited Ngorongoro and in their report reminded that they wanted the MLUM review completed to see the results and offer advice, while again complaining about the visual impact of settlements with “modern” houses, and so on. This did not bode well as recommendations and concerns from the UNESCO have in the past repeatedly led to a worsened human rights situation. In September 2019, chief conservator Freddy Manongi announced the MLUM review report proposal, which is so destructive that it will lead to the end of Maasai livelihoods and culture in Ngorongoro District.


The proposal of the MLUM review report is to divide Ngorongoro into zones, with an extensive “core conservation zone” that is to be a no-go zone for livestock and herders. In NCA this includes the Ngorongoro Highland Forest, with the three craters Ngorongoro, Olmoti and Empakaai where grazing these past few years has already been banned through order. This has led to a loss of 90% of grazing and water for Nainokanoka, Ngorongoro, Misigiyo wards, and a 100% loss of natural salt licks for livestock in these wards. The proposal is to do the same with Oldupai Gorge, Laitoli footprints, and the Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek basins. In the rest of Ngorongoro District, the proposal is for NCAA to annex the Lake Natron basin (including areas of Longido and Monduli districts) and the 1,500 km2 Osero in Loliondo and Sale Divisions and designate most of these areas to be no-go zones for pastoralists and livestock. These huge areas include many villages and are important grazing areas, the loss of which would have disastrous knock-on effects on lives and livelihoods elsewhere. The reason for including Loliondo and Lake Natron is in the report explained as an estimated 25% loss of tourism revenue for NCA when the upgrading of the Mto-wa-Mbu - Loliondo road has been finished and tourists will use that route to Serengeti.


The proposal for the 1,500 km2 Osero in Loliondo to a large extent fulfils what OBC have been lobbying for since before funding the old - in 2011 rejected - land use plan proposing it. In the Osero 1,038 km2 are to be for tourism (hunting, unlike in the rest of NCA, “core conservation sub-zone”) conservation, and research while all other human activities will be banned. It will be a no-go zone for herders and livestock, while 462 km2 of Loliondo GCA in Malambo in Sale division is proposed to be the same, except that some grazing will be “allowed” (“transitional zone”). Though any move to annex the 1,500 km2 Osero to NCA and implement this plan would be contempt of court, due to the ongoing case in the East African Court of Justice, where the Tanzanian government finds itself sued for its violent attempts at alienating this land.


While people in Loliondo seem to have used an ostrich strategy, there were complaints from NCA as soon as the MLUM proposal was presented, and then Minister Kigwangalla agreed that “community representatives” would be added to the MLUM review team, and the NCA wards re-visited. On 5th October 2019, the Pastoral Council, that ostensibly represent the local pastoralists in the NCAA, finally issued a statement, but it seemed weak, and compromised, and it misrepresented Loliondo. On 29th October 2019, a statement by the ward councillors of Ngorongoro District (which includes those from Loliondo) was even weaker.


The MLUM review team again toured the wards and could again observe people’s unsurprising rejection of any evictions. The community views were briefly mentioned in the new version of the report, but the “community representatives” were side-lined, which they panicked about, refusing to share the new version of the report, in which the same genocidal proposal was repeated.


It was reported that at a regional CCM meeting there were assurances that there was no way that the ruling party would support the proposal for evictions. Some traditional leaders from NCA went to see the then CCM secretary-general Bashiru Ally towards the end of 2019 (not sure what came out of this).


On 14th April 2020 the Pastoral Council, customary leaders, and village and ward leaders from NCA – but not those from Loliondo or Lake Natron - held a press conference in Arusha with a stronger statement than the previous one. They called upon the president and the prime minister to intervene against the abuse committed by the MLUM team - together with chief conservator Manongi whom they wanted removed.


On 23rd April 2020, a collection of leaders from Ngorongoro were summoned to Kigwangalla in Dodoma, and were promised four new community representatives, and told that the Ngorongoro residents should compose their own ideal proposal, submit it to the committee, and send him a copy. At a feedback meeting in Mokilal the MP was booed by the attendants who wanted to cut all engagement with the MLUM team, but finally the MP side managed to impose their view that the offer should be taken, but this time accompanied by public pressure (of which not much has been seen so far).


In May 2020, the councillor for Endulen (who since November 2020 is the district council chairman) reported about how NCA rangers were conducting an operation, invading villages to interrogate people about houses that had been built and doing reconnaissance of areas under threat of mass eviction, even using a plane, and that the rangers then went to the market at Naiborsoit where they arrested three women small-scale traders that were taken to Loliondo and illegally detained for 48 hours. Surprisingly, the DC (a known human rights criminal) ordered that the rangers should be arrested and said that they had been acting on their own behalf, and that Manongi had in no way ordered them. The councillor also reported that the new “community representatives” had been given terms of reference that more looked like preparing for evictions than preparing a community proposal to be sent to Kigwangalla.


At the meeting of all councillors of Ngorongoro District Council that ended on 3rd June 2020, the information was that the NCAA had approved funding of 5 billion TShs for the task of expanding its boundaries – according to the proposal in the MLUM report - to become 12,000 km2 and to include the Osero in Loliondo and the Lake Natron basin. This included the cost of “relocations”. Reportedly, the councillors resolved to work against the plan regardless of consequences and were discussing the way forward – but then the elections got in the way … and they became busy praising the government, while burying their heads in the sand.


Nothing more was heard from Kigwangalla, except that he and the permanent secretary to the MNRT went on to threaten Lake Natron GCA – that’s included in the genocidal proposal – with a Game Reserve and a Wildlife Management Area, against which there was a protest meeting in Engaresero a few days later. Then Kigwangalla just intensified the threat.


On 1st July 2020, a statement addressed to President Magufuli from the customary leaders of Ngorongoro Ward - the villages of Mokilal, Kayapus and Oloirobi - in Ngorongoro District was read by Njamama Medukenya and Sembeta Ngoidiko on Global tv. They called for the president to hear their cry about their land that keep being stolen for conservation and tourism, and ask him to stop the current proposal, while reminding of that since they were evicted from Serengeti in 1959, there have been multiple violations of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Ordinance.


MP Olenasha while contesting for the CCM candidacy for the Ngorongoro parliamentary seat, chose to deny any threat in the MLUM review proposal, calling it “propaganda” by his opponents.


On 13th September, the councillor of Endulen posted in social media, apparently in a panic, about a visit to NCA by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, adding that while other Tanzanians are busy finding leaders that will bring them development the coming five years, people in Ngorongoro live in fear and doubt due to various ongoing committees working to undermine the rights of the people. Not much more was heard about this.


On 16th October 2020, the election campaign had brought PM Majaliwa to Loliondo, and he could have declared that the genocidal proposal would definitely not be implemented, that everyone could go on with their lives as normal, and no land would be taken. Though instead of this Majaliwa insisted on denying, deflecting, and using the horrible word “participatory”.


The so-called “elections” that, as known, were a violent horror with vote rigging all over the country. On election day in Ngorongoro 23-year-old Salula Ngorisiolo was killed when police and NCA rangers opened fire at unarmed voters who were protesting the blocking of opposition polling agents. Four others people were shot by the police in an attempt to facilitate CCM rigging in the one of the only seven contested wards in Ngorongoro District


Then on 28th – 30th December 2020, NCAA held a workshop for editors and senior journalists, of course including enthusiastic participation by Tanzania’s most anti-Maasai journalist, Manyerere Jackton, and misleading reporting in various newspapers, not least the Jamhuri.


On 21st January 2021, a delegation representing councillors and traditional leaders from Ngorongoro Conservation Area met the press in Arusha calling on Magufuli not to receive misleading reports that they had not participated in, and on 8th February 2021, youths from Ngorongoro held their own press conference in Dar es Salaam – while the silence continued in Loliondo.


Current state and the speech of nightmares

OBC have been described as weakened, but at the same time the MLUM review proposal, that caters to their long-term wishes, was presented in September 2019, is said to have been placed on Magufuli’s desk, and has not been declared scrapped. After the so-called elections in 2020, OBC have at least three of their employees in ward councillor seats, including OBC’s assistant director in Ololosokwan that used to be at the forefront of the land rights struggle.


The importance of the ongoing case in the East African Court of Justice can’t be overstated. Now both sides must file written submissions, which has been delayed.


At the Ngorongoro District Council’s presentation of the budget proposals for 2021-2022 it was revealed that neither the NCAA nor OBC were offering their usual contributions to the district coffers. Nobody has been able to explain the reasons for this to me.


Damas Ndumbaro, the new Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism since December 2020, early on showed some worrying signs of having learnt that inciting against pastoralists was the cool thing to do, but didn’t mention Loliondo or Ngorongoro. Then, like every other minister, he showed signs of wanting to bring back an unethical hunting company from the UAE, Green Mile Safari, to Lake Natron GCA, which may say something about his views on OBC, or not … since every other minister for natural resources and tourism is close to Green Mile, and absolutely all of them are close to OBC, except for Kigwangalla, briefly before he changed. On 7th April, in front of Ndumbaro people from 23 villages protested against the plans of bringing back Green Mile.


Unfortunately, President Samia has appointed an outspoken enemy of the Maasai of Loliondo and Ngorongoro, Allan Kijazi, former director general of TANAPA and deputy permanent secretary of the MNRT, as Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.


On 6th April 2021, in a speech at the swearing in of the newly appointed Permanent Secretaries and heads of public institutions at State House in Dar es Salaam, President Samia started saying that the Maasai of Ngorongoro were too many and that something had to be done, or it was “bye bye Ngorongoro”. She was parroting the genocide proponents of the NCAA and the MNRT, but didn’t do it well enough, so that Ndumbaro – himself a newcomer who recently has learned this incitement - had to stand up to give her the “right” (wrong) numbers. At the same time much (but far from all) of the speech proposed sanity where her predecessor would have proposed insanity, and many Tanzanians on Twitter were very enthusiastic indeed. With some notable exceptions, they seemed fine with excluding the Ngorongoro pastoralists from the nation. Interestingly, President Samia in the same speech said that if there are minerals in protected areas then they should be extracted. I still hope that this speech was a nightmare that I will wake up from. I’m now waiting for protest statements from all local leaders and activists to report about in next blog post.


Apparently OBC are preparing their camp with road work, cutting grass at the airstrip and other work. The director Mollel was sighted in Loliondo in early March, and is said to be preparing a visit by Sheikh Mohammed. The camp has been prepared before without anything happening, but there is still the threat of the MLUM review proposal, and I hope that the paralyzing fear of the past few years will soon be lifted from the defenders of the land. It must and a clueless speech by the new president can’t be allowed to stop it.


OBC must be driven out of Loliondo once and for all! Who can help?



Susanna Nordlund is a working-class person based in Sweden who since 2010 has been blogging about Loliondo and has her fingerprints thoroughly registered with Immigration so that she will not be able to enter Tanzania through any border crossing, ever again. She has never worked for any NGO or intelligence service, and hasn’t earned a shilling from her Loliondo work. She can be reached at



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