Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Artistes Become Own Spectators

ARTISTES were the only spectators at Tuesday evening's opening of an Arts and Crafts Exhibition, at the National Museum and House of Culture in Dar es Salaam.

Despite this disappointment, they still kept their hopes high that the event, which was originally planned to open last November by the National Arts Council (BASATA) and the Tanzania Federation of Arts and Crafts, did finally see daylight.

The Federation's President, Adrian Nyangamalle, expressed his disappointment with this situation, after President Jakaya Kikwete had showed the importance he places on local art. He reminded the Daily News of the first thing the nation's head of state did when he came to the State House, which was to have the building rehabilitated and then used local artworks to decorate it with.

Yet still even today, local offices and homes are still mainly being decorated with foreign products. Now that is the reason for this exhibition, which started with a zero budget. This formed an enormous challenge for us together with the artistes to overcome.

This is the reason behind the event not getting much advertising done prior to its opening. It should be remembered that out of the estimated six million artistes here, four million of them belong to the arts and craft section,' Nyangamalle added.

Bearing this in mind, it should be easier to understand why it is that veteran artist Doreen Mandawa could not maintain her silence and interrupted the Director of Culture Development in the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Prof Herman Mwansoko, to make her feelings known. 'These artistes have come here expecting to sell their paintings and have been given just three days to do it in.

What's even worst is that not one buyer is around. I would like to request that our president be told about this eveningÕs event, which I would not have known about had I not called someone to say happy New Year, she complained. In his reply, Mwansoko explained that this is the reason why federations, like the Arts and Craft one have been formed.

He then asked Mandawa to bear in mind that what is happening is part of the process - one step forward at a time - towards reaching the desired goals. He hoped that the artistes would not let the poor turnout from the public to the exhibition, discourage them from continuing because he believes they are going the right way towards rectifying a misconception.

The Director of the Arts Promotion Department at BASATA, Nsao Shalua, gave a breath of relief just to see that they have been able to open at last. BASATA had made an arrangement with the museum to reduce their rental charges and the artistes, who all come from Dar es Salaam, covered their own individual expenses.

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