“Kitunze kidumu / If you take care of something, it will last.” – Swahili Proverb
In Tanzania, priceless archives and rare collections of analogue music are in grave danger of being lost or destroyed by climate, lack of resources, or neglect. To lose these collections to fire, flood, or simply the elements of time, would be a tragedy for musicians, scholars, historians, music-lovers, and ultimately for Tanzania itself.
We restore and revitalize cultural heritage using new and innovative technologies and approaches. Luckily, technology is improving at unprecedented speeds, making digitization and digital storage more affordable and effective than ever. We aim to take advantage of the technological revolution by caring for the heritage that has been left for us.
Promoting endangered or at-risk culture can also have a social impact. Digitizing and making archival music available to the people can provide training, jobs, and income. Proper digitization combats piracy and benefits artists. Cultural preservation can improve lives and create opportunities.
“Of all the crimes of colonialism, there is none worse than the attempt to make us believe that we had no indigenous culture of our own, or that what we did have was worthless or something of which we should be ashamed, instead of being a source of pride.” – Julius K. Nyerere
Radio Tanzania Dar es Salaam was Tanzania’s sole radio station and professional recording studio for the first twenty-five years of independence. The archives — which contain approximately 100,000 hours of unique material including speeches and music — have never been digitized from their original reel-to-reel format. The recordings, which chronicle Tanzania’s history as a nation, have languished for decades, exposed to heat, humidity, and natural decay. In most cases, the Radio Tanzania recordings are the only copies that exist — and until now, only a few people have had access to them.
The Tanzania Heritage Project creates awareness about this priceless collection, explores its historic significance and continued cultural relevance, and advocates for its digitization and preservation.
“A country which lacks its own culture is no more than a collection of people without the spirit which makes them a nation.” – Julius K. Nyerere
Music doesn’t belong on dusty shelves or in hidden libraries. It belongs to the people. Access to culture is a human right that must be pursued and protected. Cultural preservation can be collaborative, creative, and celebratory. New methods of preservation, digital storage, and music sharing come with new ways of working with custodians of culture: with respect and partnership.
We host an online archive of music, lyrics, and information about artists and groups. We also curate a listening station at the Music Mayday school where students can listen to and learn more about their musical heritage. We also repatriate music to musicians or their families once it is digitized, and sometimes it is the first time in decades that these artists have had the opportunity to hear their music again.
Art is dynamic and always evolving. Culture is never static. It challenges, provokes, and inspires. Every new creation is in conversation with the past. To know where we are headed, we have to know where we have been.
Because culture is constantly in flux, it’s a little misleading to talk about “cultural preservation” as though there were a time in the past when music was stuck or unchanging. We need to focus on understanding the evolution of music and culture over time, in conversation with the past, present, and future at any given moment. Preserving music from the past isn’t just so we can capture something we’re nostalgic about– it’s so we can continue to grow and move forward.
There are a few ways we celebrate Tanzanian music and culture through storytelling and creating spaces for active, participatory cultural preservation.
“If you can talk, you can sing; if you can walk, you can dance.” – Zimbabwean proverb
Music transcends language, boundaries, and cultural differences. There is nothing more essential to humanity than art. In East Africa, the creative sector is blossoming with innovation, creativity, and opportunity.
In order to take advantage of the potential in this space, artists and organisations need professional support and infrastructure. There are many organisations doing amazing work to support and promote the arts in Tanzania, and THP collaborates with them whenever we get the chance.
Learn about our partners and clients here
“Pamoja kwa muziki / Together for the Music”
Music unites people. We provide a platform to amplify the voices of the past, and for artists, communities and cultures who want to keep their heritage alive.
Our mission is to make the world a more beautiful place by finding endangered music and sharing it with the world.
We offer opportunities for people and artists to connect with each other and Tanzanian heritage by offering several services in addition to our NGO work. They fall under four categories: Digitization, Artist Services, Industry Services, and Music Tours.
Learn about our services here.