Msomera Villagers Pleading To President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Enable Them Given Back Their land

Msomera villagers in Handeni district, Tanga Region in Tanzania are appealing to President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, to enable them have back their land, which the government has taken away and allocating the Maasai who were evacuated from Ngorongoro, and pleading there should not be more Maasai coming.

Tanzania has designated Msomera village in the Handeni District of Tanga Region, where the Maasai from Ngorongoro, have been allocated and provided with houses as well as land for grazing.

The government says it has reached a decision to evacuate the Maasai community from Ngorongoro, on a voluntary basis, so as to protect the Ngorongoro area, which is in danger because of increase in the Maasai population and agricultural activities.

The indigenous Maasai people have lived alongside the rich wildlife of Tanzania’s Ngorongoro and Serengeti, preserving nature and acting as guardians of wildlife, while grazing their own cattle and agriculture for self-sufficiency.

According to Navaya Ndaskoi, Research officer with Pingos Forum, who was presenting a paper on ‘Journalists position on distorting reports about land disputes in Tanzania’, at a virtual meeting to journalists recently, said Ngorongoro Conservation Area has 25 villages in 11 wards and with around 100,000, among of them about 10,000 people have been evacuated, appealing to government to stop the programme.

In Msomera itself, there is a lot of complaints from the indigenous mainly Maasai of Kisongo and Parakuya sub-tribe, Zigua and Sambaa, saying they were occupying the land legally by having customary certificates, but in dismay their land has been taken away by the government to be given to newcomers, while they remain with very small portions which can’t feed  them sufficiently.

Speaking at different times with the media visiting the village recently, some villagers have this to say.

“I have no proper residency as my land has been taken away and given to another person. I have presented my discontent to the village chairman and executive officer, but in vain. I have no enough land to farm for my children, can the government hear me? I am almost dead!” said a 35 years old lady, Rahel Simiy’okiyo amid tears.

“What the government is doing is to cause disputes among us and newcomers who are brought in from Ngorongoro. Why take my land and give it to another person? This builds hatred which will erupt in the future,” said one of villagers.

Khadija Juma is looking forward to seeing President Samia intervene and hand them back their land, “I have been shown a thick bush to clear for a new home, while my own home has been allocated to another person”, lamented Khadija.

Msomero village chairperson, Martin Ikayo, said Msovera village has warmly received those evacuated from Ngorongoro Conservation Area,with mutual understanding and cooperation.

“We don’t have a dispute with them, because the government arranged good use of land, whereby newcomers and earlier occupants, each is allocated two and half acres of land for residencies, and five acres for farming. It is good both parties are getting equal share”,

said the chairperson.

Handeni District Commissioner, Adv. Albert Msando, had this to say,

“This village was first registered in 1992. Before, residents were living there illegally as intruders, for agricultural and livestock activities, because the area was officially declared a Game Reserve Area through Government Notes (GN) in 1974.

He further said that unfortunately it was a mistake to register the village within the Game Reserve Area (meaning the village had no legal status), and it was until the government decision to allocate the Maasai in the village, when the government cancelled the Game reserve area for the status quo of the village.

“The government, through the National Land Use Commission, has already planned for good use of land including, residencies, grazing and farming land, and community services.”

Reacting to those who say they are possessing the land legally

because they have supporting documents, the district commissioner says, “They have customary documents which they didn’t obtain in a proper way. In around 2010, 21 persons, most of them village leaders, each took 50 to 100 acres unlawfully as it was not passed by village general meeting but only village council”.

Advocate Edward Porokwa Executive Director of Pingos Forum, is quoted as saying that the earlier occupants of land in Msovero have every right of occupancy, according to Wildlife Conservation Act 2009 and 2022 which among other things, emphasizes, “…. the Minister shall ensure that no land falls under the village land is included in Game Controlled Area”.

He pointed out that if the government wanted to take Msovero land because all land is vested in the President as trustee, it was obliged to follow all needed procedures including villagers’ participation and be compensated.

One source who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they, indigenous Maasai of Mvomero, cannot fight their own tribe from Ngorongoro, but to make peace everlasting, they turn to President Samia Suluhu Hassan for her mercy to get back their land.









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