20 September 2017

Africa: SA, Tanzania Commit to Preserve Africa's History

South Africa and Tanzania have signed various agreements to cooperate in the areas of culture, heritage and preservation of South Africa's struggle history for liberation.

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa and his Tanzanian counterpart Minister Harrison M Wakyembe on Tuesday night held a meeting in Dodoma, Tanzania's administrative capital, where the two agreed to work together to ensure the Roads to Independence in Africa project is implemented across all SADC countries.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) appointed Tanzania to host the "Roads to Independence in Africa" project in collaboration with the African Union.

The project first focuses on Tanzania and the Southern African region, whose liberation movements were based in Tanzania. These countries are Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

The South African chapter of the project, called the Resistance and Liberation Heritage Route, is a national memory project aimed at commemorating and celebrating South Africa's road to independence. Cabinet established an Inter-Ministerial Committee to oversee this project and provide political leadership.

Speaking to SAnews in Dodoma on Monday, Minister Mthethwa said the project was crucial in ensuring that South Africa's road to democracy and Africa's road to independence is not lost.

"We are here today to emphasise and reaffirm the assignment by UNESCO and the AU of writing our story and identifying important sites on the road to independence. The most important thing today is that we were looking at different national chapters of the roads to independence from both South Africa and Tanzania and how far we have gone," said Minister Mthethwa.

"The route that we took to liberate the people of South Africa and Africa...it's important that it is written by ourselves for the world to know the real story of our liberation."

Minister Mthethwa said he was happy over the fact that the South African delegation of Director Generals and their Tanzanian counterparts spent days sharing ideas over the implementation of the Roads to Independence in Africa project to ensure that it is implemented without delay.

"We are convinced that we have set ourselves to follow up and implement this and we are on course to make this continent proud of who they are. We have to do it now. We would like to thank Tanzania for being the convenors of this important work and we will do everything we can to support them," said Minister Mthethwa.

Base for many liberation movements

Tanzania played a crucial part in the liberation of many countries in the continent and the country served as a base for many liberation movements during the struggle for liberation.

The country also opened itself as a base for many liberation movements that included the ANC, Pan African Congress, Mozambique's FRELIMO and Angola's People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA).

Tanzania was also a base for what was known as the African Liberation Committee, which was established by the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU). This structure was dissolved when South Africa gained it's democracy in 1994.

Tanzanian Arts, Culture and Information Minister Harrison said Tanzania was committed to ensure that initiatives are put in place to ensure the history of liberation of the entire continent is recorded and kept for generations to come. The project includes the construction of a museum, library and archives and aims to recognise the spirit of solidarity and cooperation amongst Africans.

There are also proposals for the construction of a monument in honour of activists who lost their lives during various stages of the fight for liberation in Africa could be built in the near future. Three South Africans are buried in Tanzania after dying in that country while in exile.

Areas of cooperation

Following Tuesday night's meeting, South Africa and Tanzania agreed to work together on several projects aimed at promoting heritage in both countries. They agreed to:

Exchange information and collaborate in areas of arts, film industry, museums, libraries and research

Cooperate in the fields of cultural relics, properties and heritage preservation

Develop capacity building and research collaboration among heritage professionals, including of working together on continental, regional and transnational African liberation heritage and development research projects

Collaborate to increase the number of world heritage sites related to the liberation struggles.

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