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(April 17th, 2024)

DODOMA. The Maasai must move out of the national parks: the decision has been made and the police are doing their utmost to enforce the government’s will.

In fact, the agents swoop into the villages, take people, make them disappear into thin air, kill some, rape others, burn the huts, kill the livestock.

According to various reports published by NGOs that defend the rights of indigenous populations, there is a crescendo of violence: «Since the first days [of the year] – writes Bruna Sironi[1] – various abuses have occurred against the communities settled in the parks and in nature reserves or in their vicinity with the aim of evicting them from their land, which is to be included in protected areas.”

Thus, on 14 January 2024, the rangers of the Tanzania National Park Authority (TANAPA) stormed a Maasai village near the Tarangire park, in the north of the country, shot several inhabitants, arrested eight of them and 800 head of cattle seized.”

In Ruaha the same scenes, the same abuses: it is clear that they want to settle accounts with the Maasai, a proud, albeit very poor, people who intend to defend the lands where they have lived for generations.



Why so much ferocity?

First of all, for this East African country, environmental tourism is one of the most important sources of income, although there is a high risk that poachers will arrive in addition to visitors.

Then because the World Bank has allocated 150 million dollars to support park expansion projects and the creation of infrastructure to support tourism.

However, the news coming from the country and the publication of a series of reports that highlight the behavior of the Tanzanian police have led the World Bank to pause for reflection.

Meanwhile, 852 Maasai have forwarded a petition to the Supreme Court to block the evictions and stop the violence.



A people of Nilotic origin, they arrived in the territories where they now live approximately three centuries ago from Ethiopia. Nomad or semi-nomad, he is mainly dedicated to pastoralism and livestock breeding.

Divided into five major clans and several minor sub-clans: it lives mainly between Kenya and Tanzania and moves across borders without difficulty.




The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa, located south of the Equator.

Bathed to the east by the Indian Ocean, it also has the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba.

It borders to the north and north-west with Kenya and Uganda, to the west with Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo, to the south and south-west with Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.

It occupies an area of 947 thousand square kilometers and is populated by 61.7 million inhabitants.

Dodoma began the capital in 1996, while Dar Es Salaam, on the sea, is the most populous inhabited centre, as well as economic capital.

Most spoken languages: Ki-Swahili, English and, in Zanzibar, Arabic; most widespread religions: Islam, Christianity and traditional cults.

The economy is based on tourism and in the future perhaps on the extraction of natural gas from the seabed, a raw material that has not yet been exploited.




In 1888, Germany began to occupy the lands of the future Tanganyika and its expansion also included the future Rwanda and Burundi.

However, Berlin lost the First World War and the victorious powers divided the German colonial empire between them: Tanganyika went to the British, who already owned Uganda and Kenya and were interested in Zanzibar, while Rwanda and Burundi became Belgian possessions.

After the end of the Second World War, the movement for independence flourished in Tanganyika too: in 1954 the TANU (Tanganyika African National Union) was founded with Julius Nyerere (1922 – 1999) as its leader.

On 9 December 1961, the country became a dominion and Nyerere assumed the leadership of the government: the following year he became President of the Republic, a position he held until 1985.

On 12 December 1963, the British also granted independence to Zanzibar: the following month a revolution ousted the sultan and proclaimed the republic.

The revolutionaries ask to merge the two territories into a single state: on 26 April, a plebiscite sanctioned the merger of Tanganyika with Zanzibar: thus Tanzania was born.



Nyerere introduces “African socialism” which focuses heavily on the principle of “relying on one’s own strength” and on Ujamaa, the creation of villages where the population, instead of living scattered here and there, experiences community life.

In foreign policy, Nyerere fought against Apartheid in South Africa and Rhodesia and supported the non-aligned movement.



In 1978, Uganda attacks its neighbor: after six months of fighting, Tanzanian forces enter Kampala, putting an end to the brutal dictatorship of Idi Amin Dada, the man who probably killed thousands of people during his eight years of absolute power .



TANU and Afro-Shirazi, the dominant party in Zanzibar, merged (1977), creating the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) which until the 1990s was the only legally admitted political force.

In 1995, the country opened to multi-party politics, but the CCM remained the dominant political force.



Since 2021, the presidency of the republic has been held by Samia Suluhu Hassan, the first woman to have won this position: vice president of the despotic John Magufuli, she succeeds him after his death, perhaps of Covid, a disease whose existence he denied.

In the history of post-colonial Africa she is the fourth woman to reach this high: previous presidents were Joyce Banda, Malawi, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Liberia, Sahle-Work Zewde, Ethiopia.

There have been women prime ministers: like AGathe Uwilingyimana, Rwanda, killed on 7 April 1994, in front of her children and six Belgian peacekeepers who did not have the mandate to defend her; Silvie Kinigi, Burundi; On April 1, Judith Suminwa took office as head of the government of the DR Congo.



Tanzania is famous for its natural beauty, in addition to the various parks that are at the center of the conflict with the Maasai, there is also Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa with its almost 6 thousand meters of altitude.




[1] B. Sironi, Tanzania: il governo accanito contro i maasai,, 23 February 2024.

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