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Refugees in their own land

MasaiThere’s an extremely powerful feature about how the Maasai of Tanzania are being driven off their ancestral lands to make way for tourism in the Observer magazine

It was published last week, but for those who haven’t read it, click here.

In Britain we are frequently shown images of the Maasai to encourage tourists to visit Kenya or Tanzania, but if this article is anything to go by, each time we see these iconic images would do well to remember the suffering of the Maasai people.

One Maasai elder is quoted as saying “We feel like refugees in our own country”, a sentiment that makes sense when you read about how tens of thousands of tribespeople are being displaced to give priority to wildlife tourism, drastically changing their traditional way of life.

History has taught us, over and again, what happens when tribes are displaced with resulting poverty and misery. Today we have a chance now to stop history repeating itself.

Lester Holloway

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One Response

  1. Hi Lester,
    I work for Thomson Safaris, a company that was falsely accused of wrong-doing in the Observer article. Formal complaints have been lodged with the newspaper.

    The article is full of factual errors, fabricated quotes and baseless rumor. It puts forth hateful allegations against us based on nothing but gossip begun shortly after the property was purchased by parties who had a vested in purchasing the land for themselves. In the ensuing 3 years these fabrications have never, ever been substantiated with a single shred of evidence.

    It is extremely disheartening to be accused of such awful things, especially when we have a well-documented 30-year history of working with and supporting local communities, including the Maasai, one of Tanzania’s 120 different cultures. The basis for our plans at Enashiva are the people – with whom we have collaborated for years and with whom we are making this new model for conservation work for all parties.

    Our record of philanthropy in northern Tanzania should speak for itself; however, much more important is the Maasai community surrounding Enashiva, the vast majority of whom welcome us, embrace our support and have asked us to continue our plans. Mr. Renton chose to ignore their voices in favor of loaded language and the unfounded gossip of a few.

    Please note that I am only commenting on the falsehoods written about Thomson and the small piece of land called Enshiva Nature Refuge.

    We have done nothing wrong and vehemently refute the false allegations Mr. Renton made.

    If interested in finding out more, please read about our company and our response to the Observer article here: http://thomsonsafaris.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/thomson-safaris-disputes-observer-story-in-this-day/

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