22 November 2012

Tanzania: Film Expert Faults Lack of Authentic Local Artistic Work

LOCAL artistes have been challenged to create work of their own origin, which identifies Tanzanian cultural norms; instead, of the current trend where majority of their artworks are a replica of foreign styles.

The challenge was thrown by the Executive Secretary of Zanzibar Film Board, Suleiman Suleiman, when presenting a paper on formalisation of film and music industry at a four-day retreat for Cultural Officers in Dar es Salaam.

Often it is heard in local circles that there is no authentic Tanzanian music and films and such complaints were underlined by Suleiman, who said majority of the local artistes copy their work from foreign ones.

He said as a result, one can hardly tell whether the film and music made by most of the local artistes have any ingredients of Tanzanian flavour, instead one can easily associate the work to be from such countries as Congo DRC, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa or even from the Western countries.

"If this trend is left unattended, chances are that the country will lose its identity and the coming generation will have no cultural style to stand on," he warned. Suleiman said local artistes; apart from a few like Muhidin Ngurumo and Bi Kidude have nothing to boast at as their own creation, which will make them be distinguished and recognized worldwide.

He acknowledged the fact that music of Tanzania has been influenced both from within the African continent and also from outside via long-established trade routes but still feels that there was something extra special for it to be rooted to authentic local genres.

"Local artistes have to recover from their slumber and stop waiting for artistes from other nations to come up with new trends for them to copy. Instead, they should come up with their own brand of the genre," he urged. He further challenged districts and regional cultural officers to strive at changing the artistes' mindset, especially at this time when the country is on the brink of formalizing music and film industry.

The formalization is expected to take off effective next year in Tanzania Mainland and will help to prevent and fight against rampant piracy on both music and film products in the country.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Seth Kamuhanda insisted on the need to train and educate the local artistes on the formalization of the industry so that they clearly understand the importance of the whole process.

He said artistes should be well aware of their obligation and responsibility to submit their film and music works for approval so that they get the official stamps for identification. He insisted that the formalization of film and music industry would only be possible with proper planning and cooperation among artistes and cultural officers.

He also warned that the whole process of formalization of the music and film industry will be redundant if cultural officers who have been tasked to oversee it will not be well conversant and competent with the topic. It is for this reason Kamuhanda said that his ministry is well prepared to train them to get to know the details.

Cultural Director in the ministry, Hermas Mwansoko said they are conducting foundation course at the Bagamoyo Arts College, the ultimate goal being to give chance to local artists to improve their skills. The retreat was officially opened on Monday by the Minister for Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Fenella Mukangara, who stressed the need for cultural officers to ensure the quality and standard of artworks as the government prepares to formalize music and film industry.

Mukangara said her ministry together with the Finance as well as Trade and Industry ministries were on the right track in ensuring that come next January, they put in place excise duty on music and film products. Currently, she said the film and music industry is performing well in the market, adding that with the formalization of the industry, artists will benefit from their artistic works.

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