Lindi, Tanzania

Hosted by

Nancy Rushohora, Stellenbosch University; Stella Maris Mtwara University College
Valence Silayo, Stella Maris Mtwara University College, Mtwara, Tanzania

Text Authors

Nancy Rushohora and Valence Silayo with Imagining Futures Team

To date we have been able to run a small pilot project, hosted in Lindi, Tanzania, with links to Baddawi Camp in Lebanon and Central St. Martins in London, UK, funded by a GCRF – AHRC development award. The preliminary results are summarised in the short documentary film by Mark Kaplan (edited by Nancy Rushohora and Izette Mostert) (English | Swahili).

The MajiMaji War forms the main focus of Lab 1. In particular the inter-generational memories of colonial violence. Dichotomies of official and unofficial histories will be explored as well as the forms and limits of heroizing – often male centred – in such a multi-faceted conflict. As part of exploring and exposing diverse and divergent narratives, the Lab will address the dynamics of closed and open archives, and the ways in which the material that remains inaccessible speaks through other agencies—in telling the stories of absence. The Tanzania Lab is also about materiality, mediality and digitisation of multiple narratives of the MajiMaji War bottom up, without othering (Rushohora 2019; Silayo 2020). It is listening to voices of 3rd or 4th generation of victims of colonial violence and recording how interaction with sites and the landscape of trauma affect such memories of it. Our institutional local partners, along with community leaders such as Chief Mchekenje in Ndanda and his family, are: The Benedictine Monastery in Ndanda, the Lindi Regional Commissioner’s Office, and the Tanzania National Museum’s MajiMaji Memorial Museum in Songea.

The activities to be conducted through the Tanzania Lab include: 1) Recording and digitising dialogues. This will involve visiting sites of memory and listening to stories of colonial violence that will facilitate video filming, digitisation of archives. A further cross-cultural initiative will use cultural materials developed in Baddawi Camp and vice versa. 2) Layers of history, memory and ruination as archives. Coastal city-states of southern Tanzania constitute layers of history, memory and ruination which connect this project with the Beirut-Urban Lab, as well as the Ghana Lab of coastal-landscapes. Using local voices, audio-visual materials, monumentality and governmentality we aim to develop methods for reading the past through use/abuse of sites, and/or landscapes of conflict. 3) Co-production of knowledge. We intend to explore with the local community the creation of a digital resource centre that embraces both formal and informal ways of knowledge production. The digital resource centre will be established during the Commissioning phase and will be hosted at Stella Maris University, drawing on the model of the Leventis Digital Resource Centre at the University of Ghana (LDRC). An online database will be co-hosted interchangeably between Stellenbosch University (South Africa) and the LDRC University of Ghana (West Africa) for ease of access across the continent. Digital technology of self-archiving already developed by other partners (CSM, London) will be tested in the context of community archives as a documentation strategy from below and will also form part of teaching aid. A workshop on understanding transgenerational memories within the context of sites, monuments, landscape and trauma, will reflect on the experience from Tanzania, Lebanon and post-apartheid South Africa. The South Africa component will be done in collaboration with the Chair in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University.