AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF TANZANIA

As a South African “equal-rights” activist, I am deeply concerned about the future of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.

Your elected government has seen fit to announce plans, and commence implementation, for a commercial road passing through the north of this pristine wilderness, in the face of internationally credible opinion that advises against such a development.

As a child of “Mama Afrika”, I was taught by my ancestors – and those of my fellow brothers and sisters of Africa – to live in harmony with both our peoples and our environment and that neither had dominion over the other.  Aside from learning from those who might know more than me, I’ve truly learnt that if you subtract value from one of these pillars, you actually impact negatively on the other.  My life-lesson has been to continually add-value to all our collective communities and ALL life-forms, because of our inseparable, mutual-interdependence.

“Mama Afrika” is considered the ultimate home of humanity on our planet.

Here in South Africa, we have the renowned World Heritage Site, the “Cradle of Humankind”, as it is called.

East and North Africa, plus West Africa, also partner with us in terms of being global guardians of humankind’s development. (There is highly compelling, scientific data to support this.)

What makes my heart weep is how Africa is home to some of the greatest resources of human and natural evolution and development on this planet and yet we, as fellow Africans, somehow abuse this privilege.

If we rely on nature and our environment to eat and breathe, thereby giving us “life” as we know it, and we then wittingly ‘destroy’ this enabling tool by “commercializing nature”, surely then we actually betray our African heritage of responsible human interaction with nature that has evolved on our soil over thousands of years, and thus all our fellow brothers and sisters, together with all those that came before?

What message do we send out to future generations of life on our planet when we seemingly take short-term profits and short-cuts to socio-economic development solutions?

To my mind, and given global Afro-pessimism and sentiment, I ask the question: can we as Africans continue to believe we are equals with the world’s citizenry when we actually betray the fundamental foundations upon which our being “African” was founded?

We, as South Africans, made some really tough choices and sacrifices to host the FIFA 2010 World Cup in our beautiful country. I believe we did this primarily for the greater good of Africa as the original ‘host-bid’ was an African one.  It will cost our peoples much in years to come, but I think we placed our own and – more importantly – the future of African nations and peoples on an equal footing in this space, and built credible global recognition.  I therefore supported this costly initiative for that reason alone.

As a nation, for this global event, we helped build “Brand Africa”, if one wishes to put this in commercial terms.

“Brand Africa” has many faces, from the haunting jail of iconic President Nelson Mandela on Robben Island in Cape Town to the towering pyramids of Egypt in our north, from our rich natural resources to our role in a global society.  All of this defines our humanity and who we are as people of this planet and how we live as one, united, somehow.

The great Serengeti is no more and no less an iconic part of African heritage, for it has been home (for millennia) to the greatest hoofed-animal migration this planet has ever known.

Hundreds of world scientists in this space, and many credible international organizations, have expressed quality opinions that any commercial road development will ultimately destroy the habitat of the animals that today freely roam the great plains of the Serengeti, an iconic global wilderness of nature, which was originally created by the vision of the peoples and governments of both Tanzania and Kenya and others.

Please, my brothers and sisters of Tanzania (and Africa) – “listen” to what is being said.  Let’s work out ways to find smarter solutions for our desperately-needed socio-economic development programmes in your region, using our African hearts and minds and not foreign capital aspirations.

There appears to be empirical data to support a better route for development via a commercial road “south” of the park. There seems, too, to be some appetite internationally for socio-economic developmental programmes to the north-east and north-west of the park, so let’s unite to explore this option.

I think that allowing a commercial road – no matter whether it is gravel or not – allows a “football stadium” to be built in the middle of an African natural icon.  Knowing how low African sentiment is on a scale of 1 to 10, in global terms, and knowing how sensitive ordinary men and women of this world feel about protecting our planet for future generations, I don’t foresee many people coming to “watch the game” in years to come and Tanzania’s economy will surely be affected.  As will that of Kenya.  Let’s not debate this, but rather move on.

Please come together, my brothers and sisters of Africa, and let’s all engage our wider African family in your beautiful country and further afield.

Together, let’s try to formulate necessary regional development, outside of the precious Serengeti, and hold a candle to the world that we will (collectively) provide a smarter, more Afro-centric vision to the world, in terms of how we can develop marginalized communities through viable and sustainable solutions.

In my mind, I ask why it should be that we South Africans spent billions of precious developmental US dollars on hosting a football World Cup to showcase Africa and her soul, to help build a better life for us all on this beloved continent, when you brothers and sisters in Tanzania seem to miss the point about your global obligation in the World Cup of Nature Protection.  Surely we must all add value positively to our continent’s development within a global context?

Why aren’t you talking to our African leaders for a more sustainable solution to your needs? We did it for sports development via the FIFA 2010 World Cup and do it every day in other matters, such as our recent UN Security Council appointment and other international matters.

In short –
You guys are scoring an own goal for “Mama Afrika” and – personally – for me, it diminishes the global value of Africa!
– – –

To conclude a somewhat emotive blog:
Please join my proposed Fair Game initiative via this forum.  I’m very open to debate. (And also note from the image where my heart is right  now – although my soul is with “Mama Afrika”.)

Thank you for reading this far and – hopefully – caring and sharing.

Brian Sandberg

Durban, South Africa

E-mail: <fairgame.africa@gmail.com>

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3 Responses to “SERENGETI future: an open letter to the people of Tanzania – FAIR GAME!”


  1. October 19, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    I have been hearing about this outrage since 1st joining Facebook a few weeks ago. I have made many friends who believe in your ’cause’. As of a few minutes ago, I posted (shared) 2 links that I think my list of friends should read. The 1st to go out was a simple request to just read what you have written. I made that suggestion, sight unseen. There was an intensity emanating from even that short bit that was given about what you had written. The 2nd post was “Click to Save The Serengeti”. And then I stopped to read your letter…And I was right! The intensity and fierceness of the words should be for the world to see, not just for the people of Tanzania.

    If you are on Facebook, or have friends that are: check out what I said about the Plight of the Serengeti…

    Sincerely,

    Miss Terry Adele Harp

  2. October 20, 2010 at 5:52 am

    Terry, thanks for your positive comments here and your FB support. Getting the message of the plight of the Serengeti ‘out there’ is a mega-challenge. Getting the government and the people of TZ to act responsibly over a precious World Heritage Site is an even greater challenge.

    Whilst I still post comments from time to time on ‘Click … Serengeti’, I do encourage members there to follow the main page behind this campaign, where there are 25000+ members:
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/STOP-THE-SERENGETI-HIGHWAY/125601617471610

    Regards – Brian

  3. October 20, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    If you are truly interested in engaging a global and interactive space, please go to the STOP THE SERENGETI HIGHWAY page on Facebook with its 25K+ members and growing:

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/STOP-THE-SERENGETI-HIGHWAY/125601617471610

    If you’re not clear about the over-arching issues, then 2 key, bio-diversity research role-players at the University of British Columbia have produced a simple, clear PowerPoint Presentation that offers a short AV summary. Please go to:

    Many thanks – Brian


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