Development of Cultural Heritage Registration in Post-Colonial Tanzania

Thomas J. Biginagwa


Although Tanzania is endowed with a significant amount of nationally and internationally renowned cultural heritage resources that span about 3.6 million years to the present, very few of them feature in the national heritage register. The government has only proclaimed and registered fifty-five heritage assets deemed to be of national significance since independence, almost six decades ago. Most of the registered heritage resources are built heritage with colonial ties, at the expense of traditional African ones. Spatially, heritage properties in regions along the Indian Ocean coast dominate the proclaimed heritage properties. This paper investigates the reasons for these trends, by tracing the roots of the heritage registration system in the country to the colonial period and by uncovering the shortcomings in the creation and maintenance of the heritage register, and proposes solutions and strategies for addressing the challenges. The paper cites examples from African countries and beyond to illustrate how comprehensive heritage registers are created and maintained.


Register, heritage registration, Antiquities Department, Tanzania

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