I was one of the 30 women farmers who came together from across Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to demand women’s land rights from the continent’s highest peak.
I decided to climb the mountain so that that the challenges we are facing in claiming women’s land rights will be heard by those in leadership in Africa.
I decided to climb so that people will hear my story.
I live with my three children in Muhaga village, on the coast of Tanzania. For the past ten years, I have been leading my community in the campaign for compensation for land that was grabbed from us by Sun Biofuels, a UK-based biofuels company.
In 2006, representatives from the government came to my community and told us to that if we obliged Sun Biofuels’ request for land, the company would compensate us and would address the community’s needs.
And so, Sun Biofuels acquired 2,000 hectares and a total of 11 villages of land for cultivating jatropha, a crop used for making fuel. In exchange for our land, Sun Biofuels promised financial compensation and to meet our basic needs: to create jobs, to create some social services like schools and hospitals, and to provide social infrastructure.
But the services and the money never came.
ActionAid got behind us when we really needed support – they assisted us in coming to understand our land rights, and helped us demand that the company’s commitment to compensation be upheld. Because of ActionAid’s support, we managed to secure the money that we were promised.
But our problems aren’t over. Sun Biofuels has transferred the land to another investor, and once again, our local communities are being forgotten. Our land is bare and cannot be farmed, our traditional trees are no longer there and the animals have disappeared as well. I can only provide my children with basic meals.
Life has changed significantly.
When the opportunity came to climb in October, I was determined to do something to put a stop to land grabs and to claim women’s land rights. I was so happy that the challenges that women are facing are finally getting a platform to be heard.
It was not easy climbing the mountain. It was very steep. So you have to force yourself to use your muscles to make yourself climb. It was so hard - but we are not giving up, because we feel that we will succeed one day.
Much like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, if you feel that you have the courage, you can make it.
Join a global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty for all.