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Over 100 Maasai Threaten to Return to Ngorongoro Following Claims of Abandonment

136 Maasai people from Msomera are threatening to return to Ngorongoro if authorities fail to provide them with the incetives they promised.

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Dodoma. Authorities in Tanzania are involved in fresh tussles with Indigenous Maasai people from Ngorongoro, this time with those who offered to leave the UNESCO-inscribed world heritage site and move to Msomera, Tanga, who accuse the government of abandoning them and of failing to fulfil its promises.

136 Maasai people from Msomera issued a statement on April 10, 2024, threatening to return to Ngorongoro, where authorities are determined to move people from under the pretext of promoting conservation if the government fails to keep its word.

The aggrieved citizens pointed out that the government promised them houses and financial compensation, but they have been waiting for two years for authorities to fulfil their promises, and they haven’t gotten anything but a disappointment. 

“The entire exercise is replete with deception and lies,” the residents said. “The government promised us a modern three-roomed house for every household, two hectares of land for residence and family uses, five hectares for agriculture and Sh10 million from President Samia Suluhu Hassan.”

“But we are disappointed to inform the Tanzanian public that more than 136 residents of the first batch of people who moved to Msomera have not been provided with any of these benefits,” the residents added. “Instead, more than two households have been crammed into a three-roomed house, which is unacceptable.”

READ MORE: Joseph Oleshangay: Winner of Weimar Human Rights Prize Shares Future of His Activism

But Handeni district commissioner Albert Msando have dismissed these complaints, writing on his official Instagram page that the government fulfilled all the promises it made to people who offered to leave Ngorongoro “voluntarily.”

“Most of those who have complained moved [to Msomera] as dependents to the head of a particular household,” Mr Msando clarified. “All heads of households received Sh10 million and a three-roomed house. All of them were compensated for their demolished houses [in Ngorongoro]. All received a plot of 2.5 hectares and a farmland of five hectares.”

Relocation exercise

The latest wrangling comes almost three years after the government launched its widely unpopular and controversial decision to move people from Ngorongoro to Msomera after arguing that the increased human population threatens the area’s ecology and overall conservation.

The government’s chief spokesperson, Mobhare Matinyi, told journalists in Dodoma on January 17, 2024, that over 20,000 residents of Ngorongoro are expected to have moved to Msomera by the end of this month. By January this year, about 3,822 residents were reported to have relocated, he added.

Authorities claim that the exercise is “voluntary,” but natives and their representatives note that the government applies several methods to force people to leave Ngorongoro, including by cutting off essential social services that would enable people to live decently.

On April 8, 2024, for example, Ngorongoro MP (Chama cha Mapinduzi—CCM) Emmanuel Oleshangay questioned the government’s claims that the exercise is voluntary, while it was cutting off basic social services.

“In the Ngorongoro sub-division, there are 27 primary schools, but no school is allowed to construct or renovate a toilet,” Mr Oleshangy revealed. “I can even share the photos of toilets students go to help themselves. Students and their teachers are forced to go to the bushes to help themselves. Why are we doing this?”

READ MORE: Lawmaker Accuses Govt of Depriving People of Ngorongoro of Basic Social Services

Prior warnings

The complaints of people who have relocated to Msomera also come almost two years after the U.S.-based environmental think tank Oakland Institute revealed several flaws in the government’s plan to move people from Ngorongoro, foreseeing some of the problems happening today.

Reporting on its fact-finding mission in 2022, the Oakland Institute revealed several discrepancies between government promises and the situation on the ground, including the lack of adequate water and grazing land in selected sites, concerns over promised social services and risk of conflict.

“Increased competition over scarce water and grazing resources has the potential to escalate into violence during increasingly frequent drought periods,” the organisation warned. “There are also potential conflicts between pastoralists and agriculturalists.”

READ MORE: Think Tank Reveals ‘Serious Issues’ With Maasai ‘Relocation’ From Ngorongoro

In their statement last week, agrieved Msomera residents appealed to President Samia Suluhu Hassan for intervention, telling her that her intention may be good but some of her assistants pursue some self-interests that do not benefit the residents.

“Because we have been here [in Msomera] for two years and we have received nothing but mistreatment and justice, we urge those in Ngorongoro not to leave,” the residents said. “If the government fails to keep its promises, we’ll return to Ngorongoro ourselves.”
Jackline Kuwanda is a Dodoma-based The Chanzo correspondent. She’s available at

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