There is a saying, often attributed to Mark Twain (though it appears nowhere in his published writings), that history never repeats itself but it often rhymes. That quote comes to mind reading this report below by the Oakland Institute, in light of yesterday’s news from Greece. There is a rhyme with no reason that echoes between the two stories. It also brings to mind, for me, an ever-present question about the work I have done for the last two decades. Tourism, even if it is sustainable tourism development, has its downsides. So, I am always on the lookout for ways to avoid regret in projects I take on, and how they are executed. More often than not, if I sense regret it is about not having had enough impact. I prefer that to the regret of too much of this type of impact:
Losing the Serengeti: The Maasai Land that was to Run Forever is based on field research, never publicly-seen-before documents, and an in-depth investigation into Tanzania’s land laws. This report is the first to reveal the complicity between Tanzanian government officials and foreign companies as they use conservation laws to dispossess the Maasai, driving them into smaller and smaller areas and creating a stifling map of confinement.
The report specifically exposes the devastating impact of two foreign companies on the lives and livelihoods of the Maasai villagers in the Loliondo area of the Ngorongoro District—Tanzania Conservation Ltd (TCL), a safari business operated by the owners of Boston-based high-end safari outfitter Thomson Safaris; and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Ortello Business Corporation (OBC), which runs hunting excursions for the country’s royal family and their guests.
According to local villagers, TCL has made their lives impossible by denying them access to water and land and cooperating with local police who have beaten and arrested the Maasai. Meanwhile, for 25 years, the OBC had an exclusive hunting license, during which time there were several violent evictions of the Maasai, many homes were burnt, and thousands of rare animals were killed. Although Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources cancelled OBC’s license last year, the OBC remains active in the area, while the local villagers live in fear.
Download the whole report here.