The author of this article is an avid human rights activist and researcher. He lives in Arusha. He is pleading to the Federal Communication Commission to halt what he calls “the racist” Royal Tour which, in his views, is fuelling a genocide in Ngorongoro, Tanzania. READ ON.
The Maasai of Ngorongoro in Tanzania are asking Jessica Rosenworcel, the Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, and the American public, to intervene on their behalf and stop the Royal Tour by American journalist Peter Greenberg scheduled to release on April 1, 2022.
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), with nearly 350 member stations around the United States of America, is planning to broadcast the television series in the next two days.
Greenberg boasts that he is a “Travel Detective.” He, however, did not see the chronic Ngorongoro Maasai predicament – one of the longest genocides and crimes against humanity.
In 1959 the British colonial government of Tanganyika forcefully evicted the Maasai from their ancestral land to give room for the establishment of the nearly 15,000 km2 Serengeti National Park (SNP). The Maasai remained with only 8,292 km2; with a promise never to be evicted again.
Much of the once Maasai territory is today divided in different categories of wildlife preserved areas. The Maasai are not allowed in 70% of core wildlife preserved areas in the Serengeti Ecosystem.
These are the famous Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and SNP. Others are Maswa, Kijereshi, Grumeti and Ikorongo Game Reserves. The Maasai live only in Ngorongoro – with wildlife.
Typical of ungrateful governments, the Tanzanian state has, for over six long decades, systematically been attacking the Maasai in efforts to evict them once again from Ngorongoro.
Instead of working together with the residents of Ngorongoro to evolve a practical way of integrating the interests of the people with those of the conservation, the state has resorted to organising the departure of the Maasai – the people.
Surprisingly, the development aspirations of the Maasai are continually frustrated by the government, in the hope that hardships will induce them to leave their land out of despair.
A government-sponsored report, dated 2019 and captioned the Multiple Land Use Model of Ngorongoro Conservation Area: Achievements and Lessons Learnt, Challenges and Options for the Future reveals, in a moment of rare honesty, that there is a deterioration of human well-being in Ngorongoro. This includes “poverty (50%), hunger (70%) and illiteracy (64%) among others.”
The government is responsible for hunger and starvation. It prevents the Maasai from producing food to feed themselves on their ancestral land. It forces them to live under primitive conditions so as to attract tourists from around the world to come and see wildlife and the archaic culture.
When Samia Suluhu Hassan was sworn in as president early last year, following the death of her COVID-19 denialist predecessor, she inherited a vicious plot to evict over 70,000 Maasai from Ngorongoro.
In order to achieve this, her government is silencing the Maasai voices. On the other hand, it sponsors state propaganda journalism to beguile the people and the world. Of course, Greenberg is its top propagandist.
When Greenberg visited Ngorongoro in 2021, with President Samia as his tour guide and film star, several human rights defenders and members of the Maasai community, including women, were arrested. They were remanded until Greenberg and Samia finished their filming trip in the area.
The Royal Tour, whose trailer was released in December 2021, seeks to whitewash the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Ngorongoro. The film is meant to attract unsuspecting tourists from around the world to Ngorongoro; an area that is supposedly overpopulated.
The Royal Tour gives the Tanzanian leader a much needed chance to assault the Maasai. As she unleashes the propaganda, mainly using Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, she tramples under flash hooves journalists reporting realities on the ground. On February 3, 2022, police arrested four journalists covering the Ngorongoro crisis.
The journalists, and the media houses they work with in brackets, are: Amina Ngahewa (Mwananchi Digital), Allen Isaack (Nipashe), Profit Mmanga (Wasafi TV), Apolo Benjamin (Daily News Digital), Janeth Mushi (Mwananchi), and Julius Sagati (Star TV).
Greenberg portrays tourism in glowing terms. This is despite the fact that travel, tourism included, is responsible for 8% of carbon emissions wrecking the planet. Tourist accommodation facilities, airstrips and roads are ever increasing in Ngorongoro, seriously pushing back the Savanna.
Tanzania’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Dr. Damas Ndumbaro reportedly said that “the number of tourists to Ngorongoro from America and Europe surged because of The Royal Tour. Five star hotels will be constructed in wildlife preservation areas to accommodate them.”
Royal Tour trailer shows convoys of cars in Ngorongoro. It also depicts balloons soaring overhead. The film ignores the dire consequences of mass tourism in delicate ecosystems such as Serengeti.
The Maasai, filmed without their Free Prior Informed Consent stipulated in the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, are shown dancing as if everything is fine in their homeland. The film, typical of most travelogue is, by all considerations, racist. It portrays the Maasai as savages.
Born to a Jewish family, Greenberg should have known the meaning of a genocide. The holocaust remains one of the worst genocides ever. Greenberg should have been the last person to fan one.
The power of the mass media in shaping public opinion should never be underestimated. Remember how the media played a vital role in producing and sharing the Nazi propaganda.
In the 1994 Rwanda genocide, journalists were sentenced to life in prison and a third to 35 years for their roles in fuelling the genocide in which 800,000 Tutsi and Hutu were murdered. In Kenya, Joshua arap Sang, a prominent Kalenjin radio announcer, was accused of inciting violence against the Kikuyu in 2007.
Tanzanite, a rare gemstone mined literally under the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, is another theme of the series. The state constructed a perimeter wall around the mines. It enclosed therein land belonging to the Maasai of Simanjiro District.
There are land acquisition laws in Tanzania. The government, however, has achieved notoriety as a lawbreaker and human rights violator. It undermines good governance.
It is understood the gemstone is traditionally mined through child labor. The government has miserably failed to address this as it also failed to stop the smuggling of the mineral by gangsters. But Peter Greenberg, shoulder to shoulder with President Samia, play blind on these crimes.
It is my suggestion that in view of all this, the Federal Communication Commission should intervene and stop broadcasting of the film. In every sense, The Royal Tour is unethical. It does not conform to the American standards.
Even after the sudden demise of tyrannical Magufuli, the Tanzanian state, with President Samia at the helm, is still a dictatorship. It has been wreaking havoc on democracy in the East Africa country.
It does not seem to have learnt from mistakes committed in 2017 when opposition chief whip Tundu Lissu was shot 16 times, although he miraculously survived following VIP treatment in Nairobi and Brussels. He, together with many others, were forced into exile. Public rallies by opposition parties are strictly prohibited, and it is almost criminalising calls for constitutional reviews.
In one of its recent mishandling of the country’s politics, the state arrested and remanded for eight months the chairman of the main opposition party in Tanzania, Freeman Mbowe, on trumped-up charges (of terrorism).
More than a month has passed since the United Nations wrote to President Samia requesting her government to stop the eviction of the Maasai.
Apparently, she has ignored this call. Time and again, the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, working of the presidential orders, has been insisting publicly that the Maasai must be evicted from Ngorongoro for the interests of the nation – as if they do not belong to this nation.
I am still convinced that it is not too late. We must attempt one more push to stop the government from evicting the Maasai. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent Federal regulatory agency responsible directly to Congress.
The 3 United Nations Special Rapporteurs should immediately write to;