By IMAN MANI, 24th December 2011 @ 14:17, Total Comments: 0, Hits: 2933
SOME interesting things came up in a conversation with the Cultural Tourism personnel, Nsajigwa Isubha-Gwamaka. He had passed by the ‘Star’ offices here in Dar es Salaam’s City Centre, after a month in Mwanza Region, taking some visitors to the country on a culture trek.
This is something he had done for various other groups, mostly foreigners, on a number of previous occasions, to the satisfaction of all concerned. Once last year he stayed in that region for six months.
This he says he enjoyed immensely because although he is originally from Mbeya Region, which lies way down south of the country, he can appreciate the unique beauty of another section of the country like Mwanza in the north.
As a founder member of the Sisi Kwa Sisi group, which is highly involved in matters related to culture, Isubha-Gwamaka accepts the responsibility to help promote Mwanza, as a tourist destination. This he says gives him much joy.
“Mwanza is an excellent tourist destination. In fact I see it as a Cinderella when it comes to this topic. It has unique scenery, being a hilly place, with those splendid rock formations and the fishing industry around, is a wonderful combination for any place to have.
From a tourist’s point of view it’s also ideal because of being relatively near the Serengeti Park, which is 130 kilometres of tarmac road on its west, as opposed to 330 kilometres from Arusha Region,” he said.
Having the biggest ethnic group, which is the “Sukuma” people in the country, is another factor that makes Mwanza special for him. After-all, he continued to explain, it is said that Tanzania is a peaceful country and in African countries being part of the majority ethnic group usually brings problems.
So as far as Tanzania is peaceful, the credit should go to these peaceful people. Proof of this, he maintains can be seen when one remembers despite their large numbers, these people have not produced a president, yet still they’re not complaining.
Isubha-Gwamaka also sees the approximately of the two million population of the lake zone metropolis can offer tourist activities, such as canoeing on the lake and going around the islands. The scenery is also striking, given that Mwanza is such a hilly region. That is why there are many interesting sight-seeing viewpoints there.
A visit to the Bujora Cultural Centre, he says is well worth the time also. It is located 25 kilometres northward, towards Musoma District in Mara Region. One would disembark at Kisesa Town, to find it.
This is within the Sukuma Museum, a community-based organization that promotes and celebrates the traditional and contemporary arts of their culture. The Museum provides an interactive and educational environment where Sukuma elders teach the younger generation traditional history and arts.
The younger generations are encouraged to develop and expand creative voices and new Sukuma artistic trends. Wonder if this has anything to do with the kind of music that’s coming out from there in recent times? Well, Mwanza is already famous for its traditional beats even getting into the churches.
There is the case where A Canadian priest, Father David Clement, who lived there in the 1950s, had set about establishing an experimental church incorporating Sukuma culture towards Christianity. This concept is called syncretism, which is defined as the combination of different systems of philosophical or religious belief or practice.
Father Clement took Christian messages and made them relevant to the indigenous people. To do this he had to study local culture and then incorporate it in Christianity as he knew it where he was from. This included the way traditional drums were played and even dancing with snakes, which these people have made an art.
At the museum visitors are welcomed to participate in workshops that provide training for those interested in learning the traditional arts of these people. It is the only institution devoted to Sukuma culture and is the sole benefactor of objects from the ancient chiefdoms and dance societies.
Isubha-Gwamaka also pointed out that Mwanza being a place full of fish and said to be the home of the Nile Perch, means fish is like a staple in their diet, whereas in Mbeya its kidney beans. People from both regions, he maintains are similar in hospitality.
He has been involved in cultural tourism for the last 15 years and is amazed to see that wherever one goes in the country, there are outstanding things to see, with reference to culture. It’s just that there is a lack of cultural awareness amongst the people, who at best tend to hold onto the thinking of it being solely concerned with traditional life and how things were at a time passed.
“Culture is something living yesterday, today and how they impact on tomorrow. So even today there is Tanzanian culture. It plays a definite role in directing our beliefs, how we see things and interpret them. Culture is evolving so requires one to be aware,” he concluded.
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