Out of office, out of mind

Set against all the stories of economic doom and gloom, corruption and Super-Power posturing, this one about the rape of the Masai makes me particularly sad.


You have to go five clicks down the Guardian’s website to find it, squeezed in between “Pledge gives PM byelection jitters” and “Columbian search for lost general”, opposite “Milk study: should I quit?” and “Best UK winter seaside holidays”.

Tanzania has been accused of reneging on its promise to 40,000 Masai pastoralists by going ahead with plans to evict them and turn their ancestral land into a reserve for the royal family of Dubai to hunt big game.

It’s the same old story of Man’s inhumanity to Man. I’m naïve and idealistic, I know, but it shocks and saddens me to think that this sort thing still goes on and even the Guardian thinks it rates no higher than the search for a lost Columbian general.

Wikipedia tells me:

Tanzania /ˌtænzəˈnə/,[8] officially the United Republic of Tanzania (Swahili: Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa in the African Great Lakes region. It is bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west; and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country’s eastern border is formed by the Indian Ocean. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, is in north-eastern Tanzania.

I had an idea Tanzania was called something else when I was at school, and sure enough it resulted from the fusion of Tanganyika and Zanzibar in the 1960s. Vague echoes of Nyerere and Pan-African Socialism came to mind and it seemed to me that Tanzania was one of the less unfortunate of those states that straddle the tropics.

Wikipedia again:

The UNCT said,

National reviews and assessments of equality between men and women … have identified a range of challenges …, which continue to prevail. These include the persistent and increasing burden of poverty on women; inequalities in arrangements for productive activities and in access to resources; inequalities in the sharing of power and decision-making; lack of respect for and inadequate promotion and protection of the human rights of women; and inequalities in managing natural resources and safeguarding the environment. … Particular attention should be drawn to the widespread marginalization of the girl child in different spheres of life, including education, and the total exclusion caused for many by early and forced marriage. … Gender-based violence is prevalent. According to a 2005 World Health Organization survey, 41 percent of ever-partnered women in Dar es Salaam have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of a partner.[3]:¶¶ 24-6, page 6  (my emphasis)

OK, got the picture…

With half the population condemned to second class status, small wonder that 40,000 Masai count for nothing against the whims of one family of rich Arabs—and a substantial kickback for an obliging Tanzanian politician.

A spokesperson for Tanzania’s natural resources and tourism ministry said : “It’s the first I’ve heard of it. I’m currently out of the office and can’t comment properly.”


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