Stop the Repression in Tanzania

A report from the ground on the ongoing situation in Ngorongoro, Tanzania.


Ngorongoro is under siege. Last week, members of the European Delegation were prevented from visiting Ngorongoro. On 25th August, they also prevented a UNESCO delegation from visiting the area. Two days ago, the Tanzanian government disallowed political rallies arranged by Tundu Lissu from being held in Ngorongoro.

Yesterday, I and my family (8 in total) were blocked at the entrance Gate of the Ngorongoro. We were required to show ID to prove whether we were residents of Ngorongoro, which we did. Thereafter they said we cannot cross unless we pay an entrance fee. Fortunately, we had thought about this beforehand, given the ongoing lawlessness, and paid earlier. But when we showed the payment receipt. They told us,

Whether you are going home, either for a party or for the funeral, you are not going to enter Ngorongoro or else, we are going to carry your corpse

One of the cars had the registration number 550 DKW.

There were almost sixty armed security personnel; some in police uniforms, other game rangers and many in plain clothes.

While discussing with them why we can’t be allowed to go home, I received a call from the Tundu Lissu convoy, informing that they had been blocked some 12km away behind us. One person, a resident of Endulen was arrested. Thereafter another three people were arrested in Endulen yesterday.

Today early in the morning, Tundu Lissu was abducted from the hotel he stayed in last night, another 7 people were subsequently arrested in Karatu. Lissu and his colleague’s whereabouts, as I write this article, remain unknown. The police confirmed that they are holding Lissu in an unspecified location.

Around 11 a.m. Tanzania time today, two Maasai Women were arrested in Endulen by police. One is breastfeeding and the other is 66 years old. Police have refused to bail them out despite their condition and nothing has been indicated about the crime they have committed. At least, one was covered in social media just two weeks ago publicly saying “WE ARE NOT GOING TO MSOMERA”

In the past three weeks, the government has arrested 53 people in Endulen alone including the political and traditional leaders of all levels as part of exerting pressure to move everyone out. Now the cases of arrest connected with forceful Maasai displacement in favour of wealthy people for either hotel investment or luxury hunting, under pretexts of conservation, has risen to over 60 (including Lissu and Other CHADEMA officials).

Two days ago, the Legal and Human Rights Centre issued a detailed statement  on the situation in Ngorongoro (you can view this video on youtube).

Tanzania’s government is undertaking a very systematic and destructive campaign against the Maasai community in Northern Tanzania. This campaign is fuelled by the blood-soaked monster of green colonialism. Ngorongoro has been turned into a police state and whoever wishes to verify facts on the ground will be met with the mighty powers of the state.

Medical Flying Doctors have already reported that in the last 16 months when they were grounded by the Tanzania government they were refused to
  • Respond to 146 emergency flights
  • Treat 9,294 patients
  • Vaccinate 31,628 children
  • Examine 7,192 pregant women
  • Treat 231 TB patients
  • Treat 102 HIV patients.

One example is that of a pregnant woman who died on 27th August. She requested a flight ambulance but the government did not give a permit to fly. She died just at the entrance gate of the hospital in Arusha more than a day later. I believe her life could have been rescued if the Medical Flying Service had not been grounded by the government. There are many cases of this nature and the government shows no sign of listening.

This is just data from one source that shows the magnitude of the problem the Maasai community is being forced to go through by the repressive Tanzanian government. This process is influenced by money overflowing across the world which to the Maasai, is a weapon to displace everyone from their ancestral land. I believe in our individual and collective efforts, we can end all repressive action against the Maasai community and all those who save for crimes of protecting their land that has become the envy of many around the world.

On behalf of those suffering under their repressive government, your action on this matter is appreciated in advance.

I will keep you updated on this sadly ongoing situation

Joseph Oleshangay, 10th September 2023