anzania needs an all-round and continuous discourse to reverse cultural enslavement and demystify poetry for national identity and meaningful development.
Contributing to a discussion convened by the Kilimanjaro Dialogue Institute (KDI) in Dar es Salaam to mark the 20th anniversary of the UNESCO-declared Poetry Day, panelists observed that space must be created for allowing the profession to occupy its real seat in the society.
Expounding on comments advanced by lead-panelist Demere Kitunga of SOMA Book Cafe on the contribution of poetry to national cultural revival, the participants, drawn from the University of Dar es Salaam, poetry- related NGOs, individual poets and the media, called for “newsprint and electronic media houses to take an active role in this Cultural Revolution.”
In her presentation, Demere Kitunga said: “Reading and writing go together. It is the wearer who knows where the shoe pinches. Tanzania cultural direction has lost course. With 120-plus tribes, the country has a lot of tradition to go by. Policies must be seen to create space for ending cultural enslavement derived from colonialism. We’ve no narrative; no archives. Curriculum developers must go back to the drawing board and deliver. ”
University of Dar es Salaam don Charles Kayoka said poetry is the mother of all inventions. According to him, “the problem lay in the general people’s misconception about poetry – namely that it is something for special people and that arts and science do not go together.” He underscored the need for demystifying poetry. “The trajectory of an artist ends in science,” he remarked, short of saying the difference between arts and science is the same.
Poet Haruna Mtulia of UWASHATA lamented what he called “media houses’ growing general reluctance to open the air waves and newspaper columns to poetry as it used to be in the past.”
“The talents are there”, said Caroline Uliwa of WAKA Poets calling for the creation of a conducive framework that accommodates tradition and the changing environment to allow the new generation trace their roots.
The discussion rose with a call for making the promotion of poetry an ongoing activity in Tanzania climaxing on the UNESCO declared day of March 21.