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Tanzania: Maasai Evictions Highlight Conflict Between ‘Preservation’ and Citizenship

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The regional court’s ruling in favour of the Tanzanian government has serious implications for indigenous citizenship rights and the state of democracy in the country.

Early this month, the East African Court of Justice ruled that Tanzania’s (forcible) eviction of its indigenous Maasai population was legal, effectively dealing a blow to indigenous rights across Africa and the world. The decision comes after months of Maasai demonstrations to preserve their land in the face of government plans to lease over fifteen hundred square kilometers to a royal-owned Dubai Company, Otterlo Business Corporation (OBC), for tourism and the trophy hunting of over seventy animals such as lions, leopards, and elephants.

After these plans were announced, Tanzanian authorities were captured opening gunfire and firing tear gas at Maasai protesters, all under the guise of the “conservation” of the Serengeti. The over fourteen thousand square kilometer UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts about two hundred thousand visitors each year for its diverse wildlife, making it the country’s most popular tourist destination. In total, the Tanzanian government has a goal of relocating “more than 73,000 pastoralists out of an estimated 93,000 living in the Ngorongoro conservation area.”

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*The views of the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Africa Speaks 4 Africa or its editorial team.

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