Arusha — People who appreciate the value of historical monuments are still angry with the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and the Arusha Municipal Council for desecrating the Clock tower monument built more than 60 years ago.
A year after TANAPA has enclosed the monument with wraparound video screens, the bizarre initiative has only succeeded to attract "the dregs of Arusha's society", according to a letter published in the latest edition of Twiga Times , an official tourism newsletter of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO).
The LCDs defiling the monument feature non-stop wildlife videos that attract town jobless people especially when the lions intimacy episodes are on screen. " We are writing this letter to protest most strongly against the unsightly and inappropriate advertising billboards which increasingly dominate the streets of Arusha town. We are particularly incensed by the electronic billboard of Tanzania National Park (TANAPA) which has been attached to Arusha Clock Tower," says the letter apparently written by Willy Lyimo, Branch Manager, of the Tanzania Tourist Board, Arusha office.
" The Clock Tower Monument, built more than 60 years ago, marks the halfway point between Cape and Cairo as well as the exact centre of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. As inscribed on its base, the Clock Tower was "Presented by Christos Galanos Esquire to commemorate the glorious victory of the Allied Nations 1945" says the letter which continues as follows:
"It is a fact that historical monuments have always attracted the interest of travelers, bearing, as they do, important testimony to the past. Now that this monument is enclosed by wraparound video screens, travelers will completely miss the point of it.
"We would ask, in genuine puzzlement, why this desecration was approved; whom were you targeting? Certainly not tourists, who have a plethora of wildlife video at home and come to Africa to see animals in their natural environment. Does the LCD billboard have any cultural value? On the contrary, it intrudes on a cultural site! Do you think it adds to, or detracts from, the aesthetic beauty of our Geneva of Africa?
"Tanapa's films attract the dregs of Arusha's society, who crowd the walls of our main Post Office building at all hours to watch "free movies". This rabble of jobless men is making passage difficult and often unpleasant for local shoppers and other pedestrians.
"We are not alone in our concern; there have been several letters of disapproval; from the residents of Arusha, especially through their weekly newspaper, The Arusha Times. Of interest to note here is the article of Ramadhan Kupaza ( a consultant in environment and development) which pointed out that the electronic billboard is in conflict with our Government's 2002 Tourism Master Plan. His article was published in The Arusha Times of May 2-8, 2009.
" While we urge the concerned authorities to safeguard the historical value of Arusha Clock Tower, we wish to end with a quote from Confession of an Advertising Man, 1963, by David Ogilvy, founder of the Ogilvy & Mather Advertising Agency: "As a private person, I have a passion for landscape, and I have never seen one improved by a billboard. Where every prospect pleases, man is at his vilest when he erects a billboard."
The letter was sent to the Director of Arusha Municipal Council. Attempts to get comments from the Arusha Municipal Director, Mr. Raphael Mbunda were not fruitful as he was out of town attending a meeting.
But TANAPA's Public Relations Officer Pascal Shelutete speaking to the Arusha Times on telephone on Wednesday said his organization had also received complaints about the LCD billboard wrapped around the clock tower monument. He said TANAPA heads would hold a meeting to discuss the matter.
With additional reporting from staff reporter