One shortcoming within the African tourism sector is scarcity of online materials. I myself being a former history teacher, can tell there is a rich history that still remains untapped.
The sources of these could be through oral history, in books, archival documents or even diaries and letters during the colonial era. Or even after colonialism up to recent past but that now needs expert ‘excavation’ in order to find connectivity.
Although I am currently in Beijing working for the China-Africa Press Centre (CAPC), I have managed to learn what is lacking in my country Tanzania, through visitations and reading of historical data that has been stored both in print and electronic form.
On May 16th this year there was an exhibition of African arts in Beijing China under the theme “The 2016 Africa Focus in China”. African arts were showcased and it proved that Tinga Tinga art from Tanzania attracted the most attention in the hall.
Coincidentally Tanzania’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China Hon. Abdulrahman Shimbo delivered a speech on behalf of his fellow diplomats, and called for more co-operation between China and Africa.
He reminded that throughout history China has been acknowledged by its porcelains, paintings and acrobatics. On the other hand Africa has been identified through its traditional dances, famous ebony carvings and paintings like the now famous Tinga Tinga.
To ‘walk the talk’ Tinga Tinga art and South African dances by students from Peking University colored this event, much to the amusement of attendees (a good number of them envoys from various parts of the world).
Ambassador Shimbo called for more promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. He called for people’s understanding of similarity and shared values between African and Chinese culture.
Unfortunately very few people take the time to understand what lies behind African chiefdoms: the traditions they cherished, taboos they upheld and moral values which could be found in those.
But good news is that there have been efforts by institutions and even from some individuals like Professor Lin Anshan, Director of the Centre for African Studies at the Peking University, to enhance people to people co-operation between Africa and China.
The don who once discussed the Tanzania’s Maji Maji wars of resistance during colonial times better than many native Tanzanians could do, has established a school purposely for interaction between African and Chinese cultures to pupils from their early childhood.
To this reporter China has been a good model of how it strives to cherish its tourist heritage in various forms be it religious, cultural, or historical.
For instance, if you were to talk of historical tourism in Tabora Tanzania, the main stories would be about ‘Dr. David Livingstone’s Tembe’, a mud house where Dr Livingstone stayed for some time when tracing the routes of slaves who were being moved from Kigoma in western Tanzania to Bagamoyo in the Coast Region (ready for shipment to the Americas).
One could end there as if there is no more history to be excavated or explained to the new generation or even interested tourists. But right there, there are traces which now should explain the whole notion of slavery and its devastation.
Kigoma served as a slave collection centre, but later the German East Africa colonial government (Deutsch-Ostafrika) constructed the biggest railways station because of the vital role of this port. The latter served Burundi and Rwanda, which were part of the German Tanganyika (now Mainland Tanzania) until 1919.
There is also a famous Dr. Livingstone Museum in Ujiji, in the outskirt of the Kigoma urban centre at the spot where Richard Burton and John Speke reached the shore of lake Tanganyika in 1858. This is where Henry Stanley found Dr Livingstone on November 10th, 1871; there was an assumption that the great explorer Livingstone was dead after a long silence.
My emphasis is, given modern technology and availability of Internet all this data could be connected and blend together in the same e-government cloud. All such information about Kigoma should be obtained at the fingertips of an electronic device for a tourist who happens to be in Kigoma. Through public and private partnership the beautiful beaches of Kigoma could as well be modernized for water cruising.
For instance, the distance between Kigoma and Bagamoyo is 1374.37 km and all this was covered by slaves on foot. So whenever one is searching for Dr Livingstone’s Tembe, the element of such a distance where people were transported in caravans must be seen as an integral part of it.