Saturday, May 22, 2010

TEDxDAR: Vicensia Shule

"I was told..." Vincensia Shule used that phrase to jump off the received wisdom on Julius Kambarage Nyerere and tell us her story: to her, Nyerere was an Artist. As she is.

While explaining Mwalimu's role in promoting culture, she broached an interesting subject: under the British, western forms of art such as theatre were introduced for the enjoyment of the colonials, and the black elites, the 'Black wazungu' aka coconuts, aka Oreo Cookies or whatever other pejoratives might be applied to such folks.


Just to look next door for a second- Kenya has a fantastically vibrant intellectual and artistic scene with world class theatre, literature, music, etc. Tanzanian art is... well. Let's just say it's a good thing Wole Soyinka wasn't born here. We don't value arts and culture as a society, lip service aside.

Anyways, Vicensia tells us that Mwalimu established cultural groups and schools for the arts. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Culture has suffered from the same forms of neglect that the Ministry of Community Development, Women and Children, namely the Who Cares Problem.
Vincesia says that Mwalimu Failed *gasp!* the arts because he didn't put in place mechanisms to nurture and support culture and policy. We apparently didn't even have a cultural policy until 1997. He also forgot that *gasp!* This World Is Not a Socialist World. He didn't put in place a system to promote the arts and culture because it was all in his head and he didn't make allowances that we are not all mind readers nor do we all agree with his philosohies in perpetuity.

Vicensia has a very quiet voice and measured delivery, which is why I think that the challenges in her talk slipped into our Tanzaphilic ears so quietly to fester. Thanks for the corrections, Vicensia!

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