UNTIL some few days ago, Peter Tesha, a University of Dar es Salaam student, was not aware that Dar es Salaam city has a lot to offer in terms of tangible and intangible cultural heritage sites ready to be explored and learned. His view has changed.
“I couldn’t imagine that there are so much cultural heritage sites and other tourist attractions in Dar,” he said after visiting some of attractions a fortnight ago in what was dubbed as Dar City Tour.
He was part of a group of 69 students from the College of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Heritage, University of Dar es Salaam and also members of the varsity’s Archaeology and Heritage Student Association (DUHASA).
On that day they visited 17 tourists and cultural heritage attractions in the city and finished with a tour at the National Museum and House of Culture. The Chairperson of DUHASA, Zuhura Mtenguzi said the tour was an eye opener and had positive impact on students.
“We have learned that we have to be clear of where we come from in order to forge a strong nation in the future,” she said.
Related to Zuhura’s words, archeology expert at the University of Trento in Italy, Elena Franchi, says that cultural heritage passed down to us from our parents must be preserved for the benefit of all and that in this era of globalization, cultural heritage helps us to remember our cultural diversity, and its understanding develops mutual respect and renewed dialogue amongst different cultures.
A renewed dialogue amongst different cultures, as noted by Franchi, was evident among students at Makumbusho Village Museum. Under the guardian of a Senior Education Officer, National Museum and House of Culture, Mrs.
Anamery Bagenyi the students had a quick learning about different Tanzania ethnic groups culture at this ‘one stop centre’ where one learns about different traditional dances, farming methods and homesteads on display at the open-air living museum.
At the Museum, Katwezye Simba art group entertained students with a Fipa traditional dance and told that Fipa tribe from Rukwa region had already well developed as ironsmiths since 18th century. By that time members of Fipa tribe had already started making agricultural tools using iron.
The bottom line here is that Africans had developed in different aspects before the encounter of foreign people who later propagated all things African as being ‘uncivilized’. Such information and things students saw elicited debates and discussions among them.
At the National Museum and House of Culture, students were told how women were at the forefront of independence struggle in the then Tanganyika. These were the likes of Mwami Theresa Ntare of Kasulu district in Kigoma region (1922-1999) who was a Queen of the Waheru from 1949-1962.
She became a member of the Kasulu Legislative Council and the first chairperson of the Territorial Chiefs Convention (TCC) in 1960. Later, she joined the Tanganyika Diplomatic Service.
The students saw a car that was lastly used by Mwalimu JK Nyerere on 31st August 1999 from his home in Msasani in Dar es Salaam to Julius Nyerere International Airport, on his way to London for treatment.
The German car brand, Mercedes Benz E300 was his last vehicle to use in Tanzania when alive as he passed to the glory on the 14th October 1999 at St. Thomas hospital in London. What astonished them, however, was a decision of the widow Mama Maria Nyerere who on the 24th September 2004 donated the car to the National Museum of Tanzania as part of history of Tanzania.
There was also a story behind a beautiful display of four pictures of former Tanzania’s Presidents at the National Museum.
“They say a lot on unique way Tanzania’s presidents handle power smoothly to one another, peacefully. We should be proud of this culture,” Anamery told students. Referring to Mama Maria decision and a smooth transfer of power in Tanzania, Anamery said: “All these are humble reminder to youth of today to cultivate highest possible ethical standards when given a chance to lead others.”
The history of Tanzania’s sacrifice to make sure that several Southern Africa countries gain independence was also laid bare. At the National Museum and House of Culture, the students were urged to recognize and cherish Tanzania’s cultural heritage and cultivate a sense of patriotism, which is an important element to social, economic development.
Talking on behalf of the National Museum Director General, Dr. Noel Luoga, the organisation’s Principal Public Relations Officer, Ms Joyce Mkinga, underscored the importance of promoting Tanzania’s cultural heritage so that is known to the public inside and outside the country, noting that the youth can play an important role in the endeavours.
The tour that provided a chance to students to experience the beauty of Dar es Salaam heritage sites was organized by the National Museum under the Museum University Hub programme. The tour aimed at building student’s capacity and helps them link theories learned in class with actual realities on ground.
“We want you to be good ambassadors of what Tanzania has to offer in terms of tourism and heritage attractions and contribute toward endeavours to strengthen tourism sector,” Dr Luoga said.
Tanzania targets to reach five billion tourists visiting the country every year with annual income turn over of USD 6 Billion by 2025. Dr Luoga explained that the tour also aimed at opening up opportunities to students and provides them with a clue of where to start after completing their studies.
The tour was the second one to be organized by the Museum University Hub which is a programme under the Tanzania National Museum and House of Culture with a purpose of organizing higher learning students specializing in tourism, cultural heritage and archaeology in Tanzania.
The Head of the Programme of the Museum and House of Culture, Mr Chance Ezekiel said members of the Museum University Hub have opportunities to have first-hand knowledge of tourists and cultural heritage sites attractions with guidance from experienced and experts in the areas.
“There are a lot of opportunities in tourism and heritage sub sector,” he said, adding that early exposure to students was important to trigger their brains and future innovations in their areas of expertise.
For now, the programme collaborates with DUHASA but plans are afoot to work with other students in other universities in the country.
Talking on behalf of others, DUHASA Chair, Zuhura noted that cultural heritage and other tourists attractions have a huge role to play in nation’s progress and that as youths they will be at fore front to promote them.
Emmanuel Rubagumya writes about science, technology and innovation. Email: innovationstz@ gmail.com