Andreas Apostolidis | Tanzania 2009 | 55 Min. | OmeU

A Place Without People is a film about how indigenous people of East Africa were evicted to make way for the creation of the world’s most famous nature reserves. Tanzania is today the eighth poorest nation in the world. Yet, in a country under stress, with most of its people mired in poverty, the government, the tourist industry and conservation organisations, have advanced the idea that Africans are intruders into what was once a pristine wilderness –a ‘Garden of Eden’. 

In the beginning, the land of the Maasai was seized by British Colonialists to set aside for hunting. But, as the game ran out, they began to preserve it. After WWII, Bernhard Grzimek, “the father of conservation” in East Africa, turned the Serengeti into a vast national park. This land, which is possibly the longest-inhabited place on earth, was, he declared, a “primordial wilderness”. Although there was no evidence that local people threatened wildlife, it was decided that “no men, not even native ones, should live inside its borders”. 

The documentary travels through the Tanzanian past and present to tell this story. From the vast National Park of the Serengeti to the famous Ngorongoro crater, A Place Without People follows the lives of people who “shouldn’t be there”. For these people, who continue to be excluded, ‘conservation’ is frequently seen as an excuse to move them from their land.