By Gudrun Conrad (German Version) September 30th, 2013. Most participants of the international conference have arrived at Dar Es Salaam. Among the international attendees are members of IPPNW Germany and Netherlands, the Rosa-Luxemburg- Foundation Tanzania, Falea 21-movement France and the NGO Robin Wood Germany.
Experts from Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Canada and USA have arrived, and one activist from Mongolia. But also people from Africa are among the guests, people whose lives are already affected by Uranium Mining. They hail from the Tschad, from Mali (Falea) from Niger (Arlit) and south africa – all here to share their knowledge and experience on the matter.
In the early morning of October 1st, we make for Dodoma. The inland flight takes us to the region by 1.5 hours. CESOPEs Anthony Lyamunda welcomes the guests and passes out T-Shirts. The slogan: “Bahi without uranium we can. Paddy is enough.”
Paddy, that’s the rice here. It is on of the staples in the region, besides fishing and raising cattle (cows, sheep and goats). The rice is cultivated in the Bahi region, where big lake areas form during the wet season.
Bahi and Manjoni
In Manjoni, we visit the exploration sites located on the community fields. In the dry season, it is hard to imagine corn and sunflowers growing around here. But the land will change during the wet season – everything will turn green, the ground will turn fertile again.
© Helmut Lohrer, IPPNW
Afterwards, we travel to the rice fields of Bahi. Here, farmers have experienced health damage to skin and eyes after planting rice in the water of the flooded Bahi area. This coincided with the Uranium exploration digs which where undertaken in the area. Bahi is very important for local livestock – if there is no rice grown here, the cattle tends to the dry grass. We talk to farmers who live around here. We ask them what they think about the plans to exploit Uranium in the vicinity. They react pretty shy, but after a while an answer comes up: The uranium should stay in the ground. If someone would dig it up, they could not let their cows graze on the fields anymore.
In Bahi village, the representatives of the organisations sign the village book. After a short time, many villagers show up – visitors are not an everyday sight here.
Back to Dodoma to a festive evening. The hosts have put all their hearth in the proceedings: CESOPE and the cities representatives greet the conference participants, two traditional groups and various folk groups of the region perform singing and dancing. A chief and a man from the elders council of the Gogo- (Masengo) tribe speak to the people. Tundu Lissu, lawyer and member of the parliament, translates.
The Chiefs and the people want to honor their guests with all this. At the same time, they want to show how culture and people are rooted to their land here. Chief Masengos states in his speech, that his people is not content to give up the land for the exploitation of mineral deposits. It is of great importance to the people living here to preserve the soil, to keep the land intact.
Further information on the conference: