The History of Cultural Heritage Research and Teaching in Tanzania

Emanuel T. Kessy


The history of heritage research in Tanzania can be traced back to the end of the 19th century. While researching on Tanzanian heritage was important because most of it was not preserved in literary form, nonetheless it was, in many ways, inappropriately represented. Sometimes it was done with a political inclination to support the colonial domination ideology whereby any form of social, political and economic achievement in Africa was unattainable in the absence of external intervention by races from outside the African continent. In order to maintain that, very limited initiative was taken by the colonialists to train local experts. To rectify this situation, the postcolonial government took initiatives to develop heritage training infrastructures in order to reconstruct the crooked history. While that has already taken shape with positive results, there are still several challenges to overcome. As practice of modern archaeology increasingly requires the use of advanced and expensive scientific equipment, facilities and associated techniques, a danger arises if a developing country like Tanzania won't match up the pace because the quality research products are subject to technological advancement of a particular era. Associated with this is a need to develop a national-based financial body for heritage research to free the country from donor funding dependency which, sometimes, do not align to national research agenda. This paper traces the history of cultural heritage research and training in Tanzania and highlights key factors that contributed to the present state in the country. A comparative overview of the respective aspects under review is made between colonial and postcolonial Tanzania.


Heritage Research, Research Infrastructure, Tanzania, Ideology

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