South Africa and Tanzania in talks to preserve Africa's Liberation History

South Africa and Tanzania are expected to sign various agreements today aimed at preserving the history of the liberation struggle as part of the two countries’ implementation of the Roads to Independence in Africa project that is endorsed by the United Nations.

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who arrived in Tanzania on Tuesday, is scheduled to meet his counterparts in that country for a bilateral meeting on the implementation of the project both in South Africa and Tanzania.

The Roads to Independence in Africa is a multi-country programme to be hosted by Tanzania in collaboration with African Union and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO). It is aimed at recognising the role played by Tanzania in providing material and moral support to the liberation movements that led the struggle for independence in Southern Africa.

The meeting between Minister Mthethwa and the Minister responsible for Culture in Tanzania is expected to provide an update on the status of the project in the two countries and how to further cooperate to ensure that the struggle history of South Africa and the country’s road to liberation is documented and the history is not lost.

This programme includes the construction of a museum, library and archives and aims at recognising the spirit of solidarity and cooperation amongst Africans in the context of the liberation movements. The Department of Arts and Culture says the Roads to Liberation project has the potential to strengthen people-to-people cooperation using culture.

Tanzania played a very important role in the fight against apartheid in South Africa and many of South Africa’s activists were based in Tanzania. The first National Consultative Conference of the now governing party, the ANC, was held in Morogoro, Tanzania, from 25 April to 1 May 1969.

On Monday, a South African delegation, led by Directors General from the Department of Arts and Culture, Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), Department of Labour, as well as Department of Public Works, visited various heritage sites in Tanzania that are crucial to the history of the liberation struggle on the continent.

The delegation visited camps that were used as a base by liberation movements such as the African National Congress, Mozambique’s FRELIMO and Angola’s AMPLA. The graves of activists who died in Tanzania were also visited. Three South Africans are still buried in the graves situated in Kwango, about 53 kilometres away from the town of Dodoma, Tanzania’s seat of government.

GCIS Acting Director General Phumla Williams, who is representing Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, is in a meeting in Tanzania. She said the government of South Africa was serious about preserving the history of South Africa’s road to freedom and the crucial role played by African countries, including Tanzania, towards attaining that freedom.

“We are very passionate about keeping the history of South Africa’s road to liberation, which is intertwined with the SADC region and one of the countries that played a role in that fight is Tanzania. Our Minister of Arts and Culture is also passionate about this project and wants to see this history being documented to the point of being taught in our schools,” Williams said.

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports in Tanzania, Professor Elisante Ole Gabriel, has urged Southern African countries whose citizens are still buried in Tanzania to consider maintaining the area where these activists are buried.

“As you can see, the area is not really maintained as it should and we would like to appeal to all the countries to consider doing something to ensure that this area is maintained and that the dignity of those who lie here is recognised,” he said.

- SAnews.gov.za