THE Russian Centre for Science and Culture, famously known as the Russian – Tanzanian Cultural Centre (RTCC) in Dar es Salaam is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Opened on the 1st December 1990 to strengthen bilateral relations between Tanzania and Russia, it is one among 73 Russian Cultural Centres opened by the Russian government worldwide to promote Russian history and culture and support Russian language study programmes abroad.
Tasked with the responsibility of strengthening traditional friendly relations between the two countries, the centre has recorded remarkable achievements which have immensely contributed to the developed social, economic bond over the 30 years of its existence.
Some of the major achievements are the works of Russian classical and contemporary literature, especially children’s literature has been translated and published in Russia for Tanzania. The Russian Cultural Centre is set to continue this tradition in collaboration with a Tanzanian Publishing House.
Some of the classical works of contemporary Swahili literature like those done by Shaaban Robert were translated to Russian language and were published in Russia. In an interview with the ‘Daily News’, the Representative Officer of the Russian Federal Agency “Rossotrudnichestvo,” Counsellor of the Russian Embassy in Tanzania, Maria Pateeva said that keen interest in classical music and opera vocals as well as in Russian classical ballet had risen in the country, as evidenced by the patronage to charity concerts held at the RTCC with the hall being filled to capacity.
“The radio programme ‘Tuikumbukie Urusi’ deserves a particular mention. It is prepared in Swahili by the centre and is aired on Radio Tumaini every Saturday, narrating various themes about Russia. Tanzanian graduates of Russian universities are often invited to participate, and talk about various issues including their student years in Russia,” she said.
Development of scientific cooperation between Russian and Tanzanian scientists has also grown, she said as the centre has been organising presentations by Russian scientists at Tanzanian universities. Tanzanian scientists have been going to Russia and there were research projects undertaken jointly by Russian scientists in Tanzania in collaboration with their Tanzanian colleagues.
Ms Pateeva further noted that since 2005 Russian anthropologists have been working together with Tanzanian scientists, in conducting various research works in areas where the Hadza, Dotog and Masai live. Over the years scientists from the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in collaboration with the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and RTCC, have been conducting extensive sociological research.
The works of anthropologists, sociologists and philologists have resulted in scientific monographs of great interest for the development of world African studies, she said.
“In 2005, the centre prepared a publication at the ‘Mkuki na Nyota’ publishing house of a collection of articles by Russian Scientists-Africanists and diplomats on the theoretical legacy of Julius Nyerere entitled ‘Julius Nyerere - Humanist Politician Thinker’, she said. She mentioned another significant achievement to be an international scientific conference held in 2019 by the Institute for African Studies, together in collaboration with the Mwalimu Nyerere Memorial Academy, that was dedicated to seek solutions for the problems of state-building in Africa. RTCC facilitated over 20 Africanists from Russia to take part. At the initiative of the Dar es Salaam centre, a scientific conference dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the ‘Declaration of the UN General Assembly on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples’ was virtually held in 2020 due to the novel Coronavirus pandemic; where 50 reports by scientists from Russia, Tanzania and other African countries were presented. She noted another successful initiative that brought the two countries closer was education. The centre has assisted in the training of highly qualified national personnel for all sectors of the economy, health care and science. “Since independence, more than 3,000 Tanzanians have received degrees from Soviet and Russian universities. Over the 30 years of its existence, the centre has sent several hundred Tanzanians to study in Russia and today they are successfully working for the wellbeing of their country,” she pointed out.
The RTCC grants scholarships for students who wish to study in Russia by the government of the Russian Federation. “This year scholarships have been awarded to 20 students, and for 2021, the number of Tanzanians who will be granted scholarships has increased to 50,” she said.
She further noted that the centre has also been providing various internships for Russian students-Africanists. Ms Pateeva mentioned another success of the centre to be the popularisation of the Russian language.
“For many years, the centre has been running Russian language courses which are mainly attended by Tanzanians preparing for studies in Russia. However, in recent years due to the growing popularity of the Russian language in the country, especially with the increase of Russian tourists, Russian language is now in high demand,” she said.
She said RTCC had opened branches for Russian language courses in other regions in the country including Zanzibar and Arusha, which are principal destinations of many tourists from Russia. According to Ms Pateeva, for many years the centre has been a base for creative arts teams such as musicians, dancers, and theatre groups.
“The centre provides an opportunity for such artists to rehearse, every day for free, and most importantly provide an opportunity for them to showcase their talents and gain popularity by holding concerts and art exhibitions,” she said.
He further said the centre has a books and video library, karate school, and has recently opened a chess club and school dubbed ‘Zanaki Chess Academy’. Ms Pateeva noted that among the things that brought an even closer bond between the two countries is the consolidation of compatriots as well as graduates of Russian universities.
“Tanzania is home to several hundred Russian-speaking people from Russia and the former republics of the USSR. These are mainly women married to Tanzanians who studied in the USSR and in Russia, as well as Russian-speaking businessmen and people working on contracts.”
“I am very pleased to note that over the 30 years of its existence, the RTC C has been accorded good understanding and friendly support from the government and Tanzanians in general,” she applauded as she mentioned few of their friends who have assisted them to include a Ms Elizabeth Magambo, the late Benjamin Mhina, Ms Wilhelmina Malima, Mr Saidi Nguba, artist Muzu Suleimanji, Walter Bgoya, Mr Joshua Madumulla, and Audax Mabulla.
“Today, on the day of the 30th Anniversary of the RCSC, we can say with confidence that our Cultural Centre has made a significant contribution to strengthening friendship between Russia and Tanzania and to the development of cultural ties between the two countries,” she remarked.
According to the RTCC Director Mr Rifat Pateev, he said that there are more projects on the way, that aim at strengthening cooperation between the two countries.
“We plan to revive the ‘Children help Children’ project,” this aims at holding fundraisers that support several orphanages in the country. However, this time it will be designed to benefit both the giver and the receiver, he said. He further revealed that towards the 30th anniversary celebrations the centre is preparing a project dubbed ‘Marika wa Kituo’ aimed at commemorating children who were at RTCC since it was established.
“We are preparing a film that will have recorded videos of the children who have grown together with the centre. They will be explaining their life stories as they grew, participated and were part of the centre’s activities,” he explained.