Hadzabe Alert/Protest Letter

I’ve just been forwarded an email from Steffen Keulig, who has written up a letter in which he asks people who wish to add their voice to the request for the Tanzanian government to prohibit the Abu Dhabi royal family, and presumably anyone else, from evicting the Hadza tribespeople from their territories, thereby forcing them to relinquish the hunter-gatherer lifestyle they choose to pursue. Here’s part of Steffen’s email…

...recent developments have raised serious concerns. The Tanzanian Government is planning to lease out the Hadzabe’ s ancestral homeland territories to the “Tanzania UAE Safaris Ltd“. This company acts on behalf of the Abu Dhabi Royal family, (Prince Hamdan bin Zayed), and they plan to establish their own personal Safari playground on the Hadzabe’s traditional territories.

This eviction would spell the end for one of the last East African hunter-gatherer communities. They would become homeless and lose their traditional livelihood. It is clear from other similar evictions that these communities then become destitute and reliant on hand-outs, no longer able to survive independently. Even if there are arrangements between the parties, the Hadzabe would be unable to survive without help, as trophy hunters would rapidly deplete the wildlife of the animals that they rely on for food. Therefore, the Hadzabe themselves, unequivocally object to this project proposed by the Tanzanian Government.

He further includes two addresses to which protestors’ correspondence may be sent, and they are as follows:

Tanzania Government:

E-Mail: > tnwinfo@plancom.go.tz

Ministry of Human Resources/Tanzania:

E-Mail: > ps_csd@interafrica.com

There doesn’t as yet appear to be anyone from the Hadzabe themselves either willing or able to act as a spokesperson, and I get the impression that none is likely to be forthcoming, which means that someone or others need to speak up on their behalf. Also, there should be more avenues of approach open to those wishing to express concern in this matter, and I’ll post more here as I come across them.

Whilst checking the fPcN website, I couldn’t help but notice the many reports regarding various alleged atrocities being perpetrated by elements of the Indonesian military against indigenous people of West Papua, and once I’ve done some checking around, I’ll post something on that situation in due course. (TJ)

Image from here.

4 thoughts on “Hadzabe Alert/Protest Letter

  1. This is in protest to the planned expulsion of members of the Hadzabe tribe from their ancestral land near Lake Eyasi. These are the second oldest group of humans in the world (according to their mitochondrial DNA) and may have lived there for 50,000 years. They are also a repository of the rare “click” languages. Although they are not “productive” in the cash flow sense, they are experts in extracting a healthy living from their environment without depleting it, unlike the farmers and herders encroaching in the area. They state they were not consulted in any way regarding ther fate. I should think that the Tanzanian government would have fresh memories regarding outsiders coming in and booting local people off their land–European colonialism is within living memory. This eviction would spell the end of one of the last groups of hunter-gatherers on earth.

  2. I just updating the ongoing situation in the Hadzabe case.
    Kind regards
    Steffen Keulig

    Interview with Naftali Z. Kitandu on 22 August 2007

    Can you tell me when your case is going to be heard?
    On the 27th.

    The 27th of September?
    No, the 27th of August, next Monday.

    How many of you have been charged?
    Two of us. Myself and Richard Baalow.

    What are you charged with?
    Disrupting a meeting of the Commission on Human Rights and Good Governance. [N.B. ‘kuvuruga’ can also be translated as ‘inciting’ or ‘creating disorder’: English legal equivalent might be ‘breach of the peace’.]

    When did this meeting take place?
    On 25 April this year.

    Can you explain what you did to disrupt the meeting?
    We did nothing. Nothing at all. Nothing at all. It was just because we refused.

    Because you refused the sale of Hadzabe land to the Arabs?

    Were there other Hadzabe at the meeting?
    Yes, there were a lot of people.

    Did they all refuse?
    Some of them agreed [to the sale]. Athumani agreed, Mr Mahiya, Ruben Mathayo…

    Ruben Mathayo is the chairman of the village, is that right?
    Yes. Then there were two more, Magandula Kizali and Mama Pendo. They were all bought out.

    Do you know how much money they were given?
    Three million shillings [about US$2,400, equivalent to a full year’s salary for a qualified professional, e.g. a secondary school teacher].

    Three million shillings each?
    That’s right. But we refused and we will go on refusing until we die.

    Were there others who refused, or was it just the two of you?
    There were a lot of people who refused. But we were the front line, seven of us. The others were Edith Yesiya, Zephania Mriga, William Filipo, Amina Zengu and Gonga Petro.

    Why were the others not arrested?
    They just arrested the two of us, the ones who are educated.

    Were you imprisoned?
    We were imprisoned on 19 April 2007 .

    How long did you stay in prison?
    Eighteen hours. Then on 7 June I handed myself over to the police.

    You handed yourself over? Can you explain that?
    I went to the station on my own. The police were looking for me, so I thought it would be better to turn myself in, rather than letting them come and find me.

    How long were you in prison that time?
    Eighteen hours again. After that, the case was announced for July. It was announced five times, but in a few days’ time it will finally be heard. They kept saying that they needed more time to finish the investigation.

    Is Richard still in prison?
    No, he is back at home. We were both released on bail.

    Who paid your bail? Was it a friend in this country or abroad?
    In this country.

    Who is your lawyer?
    His name is Francis Stola.

    Where is he from?
    From Dar es Salaam. We also have another one called Kiwanga from Arusha.

    How did you find these lawyers? Did you recruit them yourselves?
    The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) in Dar es Salaam found us these lawyers. We wouldn’t have had the expertise to find them ourselves.

    Who is paying the legal fees?
    The lawyers will be paid four million shillings each [about US$3,200]. The LHRC will pay half and we have to find the other half. They told us not to sit back and keep quiet, but to look around for donors who can help us. I already signed the agreement with the LHRC.

    Have you managed to raise any money at all yet?
    Not yet. But I have faith that we will be able to do it.

    Tell me more about the meeting that you were supposed to have disrupted. What exactly happened?
    We asked for the opportunity to speak against the land sale, but the Commission on Human Rights refused.

    What did you do after they refused?
    We just kept quiet.

    You just kept quiet? So why are you being charged with disrupting the meeting?
    [Laughs] Because we wouldn’t say what the leaders wanted. I am going to go and see the judge, I think his name is Judge Nyarani. I will go to his office in Dar es Salaam so that he can give you the full story. He says openly that the Commission was not involved and that no disturbance [breach of the peace] took place on that day in his Commission. He even announced it on the radio, that there was no disturbance that took place. But people have already been given money and cars, some of them have had cars bought for them.

    Tell me more about the Commission. Is it a government agency?
    Yes, it is a government agency. But the leaders wouldn’t let us speak.

    The ward leaders?
    No, the leaders of the village, Mongo wa Mono. Ruben, Athumani, and… what’s his name? The secretary of the village council. They said that we were not really villagers [of Mongo wa Mono] so we didn’t have the right to speak.

    Who called the Commission to come?
    That’s what the Commission does, it goes all over Tanzania to find out the problems in every ward and village. They came to introduce themselves. They were just doing their job.

    So nobody called them to come and investigate the land issue?
    No, they didn’t come because of the land issue. They came to do their regular job. Then in the meeting the villagers asked them why there is a foreign investor, an Arab with a tourist hunting company, coming to take our land. The Hadzabe started to complain. Zefania was the first to complain, and then Amina Zengu.

    What was the response?
    They were told that they had to agree to this investor because the government has already agreed.

    Who told them that?
    The District Wildlife Officer and the [District Executive] Director.

    Has a contract already been signed for the use of the land?
    There is no contract yet but they already told him [the investor] in a letter that they had approved his request.

    I heard that they have already started building on the land, is this true?
    Yes, they have already started building their camps… Maybe they have already signed a contract. Everything is very secret, it is all done underground.

    So, to go back to the meeting, what happened after that?
    That was when the disturbance started.

    What kind of disturbance?
    People were making a lot of noise. They were shouting, ‘Why should this Arab be brought into our Hadzabe land?’ Some people started to climb on top of the cars.

    Did you say anything?
    I spoke privately to the Commissioner. He agreed that it was true but he said that there was nothing that he could do because our leaders had already refused to listen to us.

    When did you ask for the opportunity to speak? Was it before the disturbance?
    Yes, we asked to be allowed to speak before the disturbance began, but the leaders of the village refused, claiming that we were not villagers.

    What did the other people say in response to that?
    They said that we were villagers and that Naftali was the founder of the village. How can the founder of the village not be a villager?

    What happened after that?
    The meeting was broken up and the Commission left.

    You say that you were arrested on 19 April and that the meeting was on the 25th. Is that correct?
    Yes, that’s right.

    So you were arrested before the meeting of the Commission on Human Rights?

    Why were you arrested the first time?
    Mr Mahiya, Ruben and Magandula had been taken by the District Commissioner to see the Prime Minister and to say that the Hadzabe had agreed to the investor. Then on that day I was with the local councillor of Yaeda Chini. I asked him, ‘Why do you support this investor?’ He told me that he was a newly elected councillor and he had just received the issue from someone else. I asked him, ‘Is it good?’ He replied that all of these NGOs that have been here in the past have never helped the Hadzabe and maybe this investor will be able to help the Hadzabe.

    Is the local councillor also Hadzabe?
    No, he is Mnyiramba. He received money from them as well. What are they going to say after they have been bought out?

    Did he receive a car too?
    No, the only ones who received cars were the District Wildlife Officer and the Director.

    So what happened after that?
    Mr Mahiya turned up in the middle of our conversation. He asked me, ‘Who are you to oppose the Arab? You are just a small child.’

    Is Mr Mahiya very old?
    Yes, he is an old man. He saw me talking to the councillor and I told him, `Five people have already been bought out, if you have been bought out then what can you have left to say?’ Then he started to insult me. [N.B. ‘kutukana’ can also be translated as curse, abuse, or swear]. After he insulted me three times I hit him. I’m not going to hide it. I didn’t hit him for insulting me. I hit him because he lied. He went to tell the Prime Minister that all the Hadzabe support the land deal and this is not true.

    Were you arrested for hitting Mr Mahiya?
    No, Shanny [the District Wildlife Officer] arrested me and put me in prison because I am opposing the land deal.

    Tell me more about your trip to Dodoma. Who did you see?
    I saw all of the MPs. Mr. Wilbrod Srllaa, the MP for Karatu, Mugana Msindai for Iramba East, Shibuda for Shinyanga, and Lele for Ngorongoro.

    What did you say to them?
    I just gave them all the documents. They said that they would read them and that they would represent us officially in Parliament when it opens.

    When does it open?
    I’m not sure. They will let me know.

    Do you think they will really represent you?
    Maybe they can, we will see. These issues are becoming very big. Did you hear about the disturbance in Loliondo? There are big problems. A warrior was knocked down by a car belonging to the Arabs.

    Did he die?
    Yes, he died right there. It will be war, all-out war. Haven’t you heard that story? We have to follow the news, we always have to know what is going on. On the day that Parliament opens I will go and listen and see what the MPs have to say.

    What are they saying in the higher levels of government about this issue?
    [Laughs]. It is there, the issue is there at the highest levels. During the 2005 election, money came from the Arabs. This is why the big men don’t want to listen to us.

    Did the Prime Minister believe Athumani and the others when they told him that all the Hadzabe supported the land deal?
    The Prime Minister is truthful. I spoke to him and he told me not to come to Parliament. He said that I should go and see the Regional Commissioner and the District Commissioner. But the President knows all about it. He knows everything. We wrote to him but he just answered us with politics. Don’t you have the letters? I’ll bring them.

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