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Battle over the Serengeti pits Maasai against Dubai

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Maasai females in particular were outraged and organized protests across the Loliondo highland savannah. Their group got support from Tanzania’s powerful ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), and a delegation of Maasai leaders, including women activists, were given a meeting to air their grievances with prime minister Mizengo Pinda.

In the meeting, Mr. Pinda assured the Maasai activists that he supported their cause and would take their concerns to the president, according to members of the delegation. But no official decisions have been made since the meeting with Pinda two weeks ago. The women fear the government is stalling.

“We are worried that this is just a smokescreen,” said Morgayamat Maanda, a grandmother of seven, speaking of the meeting with the prime minister.

Indeed, Pinda’s spokesman told the Monitor that the government’s position is still that of Mr. Kagasheki, the tourism minister. Kagasheki had earlier launched a national media campaign claiming the Maasai are squatters on government land, and that their cattle are overgrazing and threaten the local wildlife.

With no clear answer from Pinda, the women are camping in tiny Arash village in the shadow of one of the corridor’s forested mountains, debating whether to sell their husbands’ cows for funds in order to travel to Dar es Salaam to demand an audience with President Jakaya Kikwete.

Ancestral heritage

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