Monday, June 15, 2015

Belgium wants Tanzania to preserve its valuable cultural heritage

TANZANIA government has been instructed to develop the habit of preserving its most valuable cultural heritage in its National Museum so as to help the incoming generation know about what their forefathers did in the past about traditional culture. The concern was made mid this week in Dar es Salaam by the Belgium Ambassador accredited in the country Koen Adam during the inauguration of a month long photo exhibition known as “Trenches in Africa” an initiative organized by the government of Belgium in collaboration with National Museum in the country. The initiative has jointly put in place the unknown historical knowledge of Tanzania’s participation during the First World War (WW1) which took place over 100 years ago. During the occasion, the Belgium Embassy in Dar es Salaam demonstrated some 71 horrific photographs at the National Museum that shows how Belgium soldiers emerged from Congo, the then Belgian colony and entered the then East Africa German colony through Lake Tanganyika to help the British fight the German soldiers in Tabora and Mahenge. Ambassador Adam clarified that, his office has decided to display these photographs to bridge the gap of practical knowledge among the majority of Tanzanians most of whom youths who have learned the history of WW1 in books.  In his introductory speech, Ambassador Adam noted that, in any country in the world national museums have greater roles to play when it comes to preserve national culture as they are the only places whereby a country preserves its heritages and other memories of the past events to enable the incoming generation become knowledgeable about their country. The exhibition consists of 26 panes and three short movies that cover well this historical period and after which it will become part of the museum patrimony as a gift by Belgium authorities to the government of Tanzania.  In an exclusive interview, the Director General of the National Museum Professor Audax Mabula admitted of some of the discrepancies that the government has not yet addressed and looked at more critically when it comes to the preservation of important national heritages. 

However, he said that, the costs of collecting data and information is an impediment as it requires money to pay experts involved in the data collection. However, he said his institution is trying with much effort it can in order to have as much data as possible. However, he said that, more information that the national museum has in place arte those ones which are documented in form of pictures and rarely old materials could be seen as it is impossible to collect them unless the government hires experts to do the job. Lucas Catherine, a Belgian historian who created this exhibition has paid a special attention to the contribution and sacrifice of thousands of Congolese and Tanzanian soldiers including the carriers and their families who were deployed in battlefield. He said historians often tend to overlook that although the wars in Africa were fought between European powers as part of a European conflict, the main victims were always Africans. However, he elaborated that the exhibition also tries to bring tribute to them. On his part, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources under which the national Museum falls, Dr Adelhelm Meru thanked the Belgium government for their closer cooperation that enabled the government receive photos that depicts World War 1. He noted that, what the Belgium government has done is a good remembrance which keeps on maintaining the cordial relationship between the Belgian government and Tanzania government which has been existing since independence time. Meanwhile, it can be remembered that the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources has kept some cultural heritage of the strong local African Chiefs who fought against the colonial rule such as Mkwawa at Kalega in Iringa town as well as Chief Songea of Ngoni people in Songea town. The two African leaders are remembered for their bravery as they stood firmly to oppose the colonial rule of the ruthless German colonialisation process that culminated between 1890 and 1907.

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