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Maasai People From Ngorongoro Yearn for Rights Their Fellow Tanzanians Enjoy

The Ngorongoro conservation area is the only place in Tanzania where its residents have to be inspected to get to their homes from wherever they go. It’s as if NCA is a country within a country.

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Ngorongoro conservation area is one of the three administrative divisions in Ngorongoro district. The famous Ngorongoro Crater is located in this division alongside other historical locations, such as Olduvai Gorge, where historical information about early humans and the Laetoli Footprints can be found.

Due to its historical richness and natural beauty, the Ngorongoro conservation area attracts millions of tourists every year, who leave behind billions of dollars. 

In a blunt eye, it’s easy to imagine that this money benefits all citizens, including the local Maasai, but contrary to that, these billions cause lifetime suffering to the very people who protected the integrity of the land for as long as one can remember.

The money obtained from tourism in Ngorongoro turned the excellent image of once a paradise on earth into a burning hell where residents suffer every kind of wickedness from a body that was tasked with overseeing their well-being and livelihoods.

In recent years, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) openly shunned one of the three key objectives of its establishment, which is to safeguard and promote the interests of the Maasai people.

READ MORE: Tanzania’s Activists Up in Arms Over Planned ‘Epic Tanzania Tour’ in Ngorongoro

For them, coexistence is no longer possible, and their focus, as they claim, is conservation and tourism. However, these are just euphemistic terms used to soften the land-grabbing process by very few influential, rich, selfish and heartless people.

Potential pasture lands, dry-season grazing areas, salt licks, and water points are strictly prohibited and alienated from people under the pretext of conservation. This puts the only source of life and livelihood for the Maasai people, pastoralism, at risk.

Pure colonialism

We now have a kind of conservation that’s pure colonial and reliant on boots and guns to exclude the true guardians of nature. As a result, cattle herders are beaten, tortured and harassed by those entitled to enforce these restrictive rules and laws.

This is why when herders see boots on the ground or rangers hanging in their open cars carrying guns on their shoulders, they run a race they never win. As Maasai people living in Ngorongoro, we’re in serious survival peril.

But the only way the powerful within the government can acquire these large tracts of land to hunt freely or out of the watch is to partner in building luxurious hotels and lodges to please wealthy individuals from Europe and America and move local residents out of their homes.

READ MORE: Ngorongoro: A Blot on Samia’s Human Rights Record?

Here comes a theoretical voluntary relocation process proposed and executed by the government through a hostile body that failed to use its mandate for the best of humanity within the area: the NCAA.

The government’s attempt to resettle the Maasai people out of Ngorongoro is never voluntary; it’s practically forceful.

In April 2021, the government ordered the demolition of almost all vital social services facilities in the area, including schools, religious institutions, police stations, health dispensaries and village offices, in what they called an effort to address ecological threats in the area.

No hotel was issued with the notice; only life-sustaining services like dispensaries and people’s homes were targeted. In this attempt, no community leaders or locals were consulted before issuing a notice. This exercise was later halted due to social media and on-ground protests, which the NCAA called a “misunderstanding.”

Eviction gathers pace

In mid-February 2022, campaigns to move the Maasai people out of their land started again. The plans were highly secretive, but because in the darkness, the ears of God are awake, and God is light, and to him, there’s no darkness at all, the documents leaked.

READ MORE: Maasai People Sue Tanzania at EACJ Over ‘Forceful Eviction’ Attempts from Ngorongoro

Protests in the form of community meetings, student press releases, community leaders and even individuals arose in the highest terms. 

All these protests summed up the community’s need for inclusive decision-making and participation at all levels. The community believes it’s still possible for all lives to be sustained in the area if there’s a willingness to do so.

After a long cry, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa visited the area on February 14, 2022, starting with Loliondo and later the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Everyone expected inclusivity, but the opposite was true. Only some leaders were allowed into the meeting, but like prisoners, without phones, swords, or sticks.

Some of the community professionals, independent journalists and some representatives from organisations working for the rights of indigenous people and pastoralists were denied access to the meeting and arrested to prevent coverage of community views.

Long-time enemies of the Maasai community, like JAMVI LA HABARI and JAMHURI newspapers, attended the meeting. Liars, propagandists, and fake news champions misled the public and deprived them of their rights to valid, accurate, and standard information.

READ MORE: UN Experts Warn of Escalating Violence Amidst Plans to ‘Forcibly Evict Maasai’ From Ngorongoro

The government later lied to the public by saying that the people in Ngorongoro agreed and were ready to give room for conservation, the total diversion of what had been said. At a time when the truth was much needed, authorities chose to lie.

Mathew Siloma, the councillor for Arash, was later arrested after strongly condemning and publicly opposing Mr Majaliwa’s statement, calling him “a liar who must be ignored.”


In June 2022, police and military men were deployed to shoot at unarmed women, children and men in the Loliondo division while the government was busy lying that nothing was happening. 

The deployment of armed forces in the Loliondo division claimed the lives of our brothers and sisters, the innocent children and women who gave up their lives and livelihoods for centuries to protect the animals and the environment.

So what was meant to be voluntary relocation is now a forceful eviction of Maasai people in Ngorongoro. 

It was first the placement of economic and development sanctions against the country’s citizens, subjecting them to life hardships like poverty, starvation and even death due to lack of life’s basic necessities, and now they have resorted to violence and all forms of intimidation.

READ MORE: African Commission on Human Rights ‘Gravely Concerned’ About the Fate of Indigenous People in Ngorongoro

It’s disturbing and saddening to see that for a long time, residents of the Ngorongoro conservation area have been inspected before checking into their homes. This permit inspection is always done when leaving the country or entering the country from a foreign country. 

Ngorongoro conservation area is the only place in Tanzania where its residents have to be inspected to get to their homes from wherever they go. It’s as if NCA is a country within a country. The rights and privileges enjoyed by the Tanzanian citizens remained the daydream for the Maasai people of Ngorongoro.

In the pretext of conservation, this is what happens to the true guardians of this beautiful paradise. In a country once perceived as an island of peace, revulsion intervened.

But all these will fail because Maasai are used to life’s toughness and hardships. We survived Emuta in the early 19th century. We will survive any other oddity this merciless world throws at us.

Lembeu Moko is an Arusha-based conservationist and an indigenous Maasai from Ngorongoro. He can be reached at The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chanzo. If you are interested in publishing in this space, please contact our editors at

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5 Responses

  1. While our Media friends are busy blowing the trumpet for 3 years of Mama why don’t they also include this issue on their agenda? May be they would rather protect their fat allowances and invitations? Uchawa

  2. I obviously like what you cohesive people and indigenous from Ngorongoro write….

    It’s very likely that actions would show more results than existing articles & journals in public domain, but no ever action shown to defeat this defestative situation…. It’s very disheartening.

    My point of view and advice to us in good minds.
    It’s true that writing good this for the would to see, but the community can’t see and understand very clearly the good things we are doing.

    Let us accompany them in a protests to defeat the Tz repressive regime with repressive legislation by actions and press.

  3. Freezing all social services were the government prior supporting is a community suffocation.
    There is nothing as voluntary relocation but was hostile and brutal(it was a choice between a hardrock and a stone
    Leaving community disunity and family separation i.e one husband move with one wife left 3 behind( in Ngorongoro enjoy life) as they have choice to leaving with ancenstors land

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