Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Repatriate's Plight - Short video exposing Tanzanian injustice

I came across this video recently and felt it deserved a post up hear, it's the story of a Trinidadian who moved over to Tanzania in the 1980's after accpting the presidents invitation to any of African displaced children to return to help build a new future with the president, so Keith sold all his assets and bought a farm in Tanzania. The video below will share his story.
I urge anyone who feels strongly about this injustice to email the Tanzanian President and the Trinidadian Prime minister(contact details below) to tell them that it is just not acceptable for this mans case to go undealt with.

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Sohooba Keith Smith has been fighting for justice and the restitution of his repatriated land in Tanzania for 22 years. Dr. Willibrod Slaa, MP, Karatu, discusses the issues of corruption hindering Mr. Smith's struggle for justice.
Tanzania, home to Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti, and the cradle of mankind at Olduvai Gorge, is at the forefront of those countries seeking international tourists and business investors. A country with a strong and stable political history, its current President, Jakaya Kikwete, was mentored by the late, great Julius Nyerere, Tanzanias first president and the Father of the Nation, who unified 125 different tribes in the 1960s and then extended an invitation to Africas displaced children to repatriate home to build a new future with him in Tanzania.

Sohooba Keith Smith, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, answered President Nyereres call in 1980, and invested his lifes savings in Ndamakai Coffee Estates, a magnificent 1,750-acre farm in the mountains of Arusha, at the edge of Ngorogoro Crater. He brought his family and all his assets with him to his adopted country, hoping to "fulfill the dreams of his ancestors", but instead, his property was stolen in a violent conspiracy that tragically echoed their nightmares. Arrested in 1987 for defending his family from armed intruders on his farm, Sohooba's property was stolen 3 weeks later by a German expatriate, aided by an African lawyer in a disturbing re-play of history.

Sohooba spent 7 years in prison in Tanzania, before being pardoned by President Ali Hassan Mwynyi in 1994. Advised that it would be "too dangerous" for him to return to Arusha to investigate the state of his home and property, he was send back to Trinidad with nothing but the clothing on his back. His repatriated property and all the assets that he worked for over a lifetime have remained in the hands of illegal occupiers ever since.

In 2005, the Tanzania Legal and Human Rights Centre, representing Sohooba, attempted to open his restitution case in the High Court in Arusha, but were blocked from doing so by corrupt elements within the Arusha Police Department. Urged by his lawyers to seek diplomatic intervention and administrative assistance, and after numerous entreaties, an investigation into his claims was finally launched by the Trinidadian and Tanzanian Foreign Ministries in 2007.

In spite of this, Ndamakai Coffee Estates (renamed Acacia Hills Farms), was illegally resold again in March 2008, WHILE SOHOOBA'S CASE WAS UNDER ACTIVE GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATION!
In Tanzania, there is an expression: A far-away stick cannot kill a snake". Please help bring that stick a little closer by emailing President Kikwete and Prime Minister Manning and letting them know that the injustice of Sohooba Keith Smiths plight is an affront to the memory of those ancestors who survived the Middle Passage to live out their lives on Caribbean and American shores. If the Tanzanian Government is unwilling to confront the injustice of Sohooba Keith Smiths plight and award him restitution today, how will the government protect future foreign investors, tourists and repatriates from falling victim to similar forces tomorrow?

The video opens with a moving montage of historical art and photographs documenting the history of slavery, the Middle Passage and repatriation, followed by Dr. Willibrod Slaa, MP (Karatu), explaining the history of Smiths case and the current climate for resolution in Tanzania.Please show your support by leaving comments on this page and by emailing the Trinidadian and Tanzanian Governments in support of immediate administrative assistance for Mr. Smith.

Tanzania, President Jakaya Kikwete c/o:
Trinidad, Prime Minister Patrick Manning c/o


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