Following Tracy McVeigh's article Serengeti highway threatens national park's wildbeest migration that was published in guardian.co.uk/TheObserver on Sunday, 27 March 2011, a brief response was posted in Wanazuoni's webpage alongside Navaya ole Ndaskoi's earlier critique on a more or less similar proposal against the highway. Fortunately Tracy has presented a brief response below. For those who are concerned this is another space for all those who really care, not only about the animals in Serengeti and beyond, but also about the people of Tanzania and the world at large, to jointly chip in and come up with the best possible alternative.
Re: The Article that Attacks My Piece in The Observer
Firstly can I say that yes, the lack of African names on that letter was noticeable. I don't know why that was the case.
But I do know that it is impossible in today's world to argue that individual state's should be able to make decisions about big environmental issues in isolation and without intense scrutiny from the rest of the world. They hold resources within their man-made borders only as part of the bigger environmental jigsaw that is this planet.
The rest of the world, including Tanzania, is perfectly entitled to make strong demands on Japan at the moment to be reassured about its nuclear safety. Equally it was reasonable for the international community to protest at China's appallingly levels of pollution. The citizens of those countries would expect no less than total support from outside.
It is hard for a continent like Africa, plundered, raped and forcibly reshaped by European colonialists for so much of recent history, to accept the international voice. Why should it? Too often there is someone who wants to make money behind it. But it is a cheap shot to encourage resentments - as valid as they are - to colour the environmental picture. The Serengeti has been one of the most scientifically studied areas in the world.
Increasingly, those scientists will be African, but at the moment many are or were American, Scandanavian, or wherever. What matters is the science they have collected and the model that there is a collective belief in. Surely that knowledge has to be listened to? It is Africans who will feel the crushing impact.
The effects of climate change is already destroying lives in Kenya and Tanzania, lengthening drought cycles.
Roads are key, why should Tanzania not have good roads, of course it should - but careful planning of roads is vital. And be careful too about what the roads will be used for - there is clearly an enormous interest from companies who could make big money by being able to whisk Tanzania's mineral and other resources straight out of the country in their raw form, to be processed, bring jobs and wealth, elsewhere.
Then tourism - does anyone not know what the Serengeti is most famous for? That wildebeest and its zebra outriders are beyond iconography!
Tourists have many, many places to choose from in the world now. And fuel costs mean flights are increasingly expensive so people will get more and more picky about where they go. To even risk damaging one of the country's biggest tourist attractions is, what any young business student can tell you, mad.
Yes there is not enough Tanzanian ownership of the hotels etc, but the international hotel chains stretch across the world not just on the Indian Ocean, and there is employment - and training on offer to locals who should be then be being encouraged by government to go on and invest in their own businesses and their own tourism projects. Look to your government to answer questions of fairness in ownership - many countries have stricter rules on foreign ownership.
Just because scientists are foreign, and you don't like what they are saying, is not I'm afraid, to the rest of the world, including the rest of Africa, a good enough argument to allow Tanzania to shoot the messengers and go ahead with this controversial project.