Monday, September 21, 2009

Please leave our land alone

There are the disquieting reports that the government has leased or is planning to lease 1000 square of farmland to South Koreans.

The media quoted Korean officials as saying that 1,000 square kilometers (386 sq miles) would be developed – half for local farmers, half to produce processed goods for South Korea.

According to reports, the deal was a result of recent Premier Mizengo Pinda’s visit to the far eastern country. The government has refuted such media reports. My question is – just who manufactured those lies? Smoke without a fire? Tanzanians certainly need a re-assurance for such dangerous allegations. Where the South Koreans lying?

In April this year it was reported that Saudi Arabian investors want to lease 500,000 hectares of farmland in Tanzania to grow rice and wheat. President Jakaya Kikwete is reported to have told the Saudis that Tanzania could lease them Land covering up to 10,000 hectares for 99 years!

“Tanzania is ready to do business with you…there is a 100 million (40.5 million) hectares) of good arable land.” Reuters quoted Mr. Kikwete as telling Saudi businessmen.

Well, the president might have felt that way. But not in my name. I can boldly say not in the name of millions of Tanzanians who seem to have no say in their destiny. The rulers might call it investment, I call it a potential land grab. Just like the Greek, English and German settlers during colonialism.

All wars of liberation in Africa have been about land. In the end Africans found themselves being ‘manamba’ in foreign settler-owned farms for sisal, cotton, tobacco and other farm produce - through slave labour. It never at any point ‘improved’ their lives in any way, other than terminally affect the African inferiority complex.

Can’t Tanzanians produce rice and wheat to export to Saudi Arabia? Can’t Tanzanians produce whatever North Koreans want for export to that far eastern country? I mean, how the Black African survived over 1,000 years. Now we are being told that the Saudis or Koreans are going to ‘liberate’ us economically.

Right now some of the rulers have sold of chunks of Loliondo and in northern Tanzania. The arrogance displayed by those foreigners whom I plainly called colonialists, in cahoots with the local slave rulers, is simply astonishing.

The local rulers are busy spinning yarns that the Masai of Loliondo are Kenyans who have come over to disturb Arabian princes, busy hunting lions (to prove their machismo). Maybe the minister for tourism, Ms Shamsa Mwangunga, who has a rep for speaking untruths, can tell us just how Tanzania benefits from hiring out a chunk of our country for the pleasures of Arabian royalty?
As we are headed towards the general elections next year all political parties should tell us their stand on the land issue. Many of us are getting increasingly alarmed by some rulers who want to treat our country as their private estate. This land belongs to all Tanzanians, not a few who find themselves in ruling positions.

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