SA, Tanzania discuss the road to liberation

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Senior government officials from South Africa arrived in Dodoma, the seat of the Tanzanian government, on Saturday where they are making preparations ahead of a bilateral meeting between Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa and Ministers of Culture in Tanzania.

The bilateral meeting is to discuss various issues of mutual interest between South Africa and Tanzania and top of the agenda is the implementation of the Road to Liberation project in the two countries.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) took a decision to appoint Tanzania to host the “Roads to Independence in Africa” project in collaboration with the African Union.

The project first focuses on Tanzania and the Southern African region, whose liberation movements were based in Tanzania. These countries are Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

The South African chapter of the project, called the Resistance and Liberation Heritage Route, is a national memory project aimed at commemorating and celebrating South Africa’s road to independence. Cabinet established an Inter-Ministerial Committee to oversee this project and provide political leadership.

Minister Mthethwa was scheduled to arrive in Tanzania on Saturday.

Over the next three days, Tanzania and South Africa will discuss 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.

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.

The country also opened itself as a base for many liberation movements, including the Pan African Congress, Mozambique’s FRELIMO and Angola’s People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). Tanzania was also a base for what was known as the African Liberation Committee, which was established by the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU). This structure was dissolved when South Africa gained it’s democracy in 1994.  

“Historically, Tanzania has so much significance for South Africa. We are beginning to tell our own story as Africa. We are beginning to tell the history of the continent as we know it as Africans and South Africans,” Acting Director General of the Government Communication and Information System Phumla Williams said.

Williams is representing Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo to the bilateral meeting of Ministers scheduled for 18 September in Dodoma.

“This country, Tanzania, has done so much for South Africa, MK soldiers were trained here and some of our students were educated here. My own kids were born in Tanzania, my sister’s children were born here,” Williams said.

According to the Department of Arts and Culture, the Roads to Liberation project has the potential to strengthen people-to-people cooperation using culture.

It will allow South Africans and the continent’s people to appreciate that the DNA of a liberated Southern Africa and the continent as a whole is in Tanzania.

South Africa celebrates Heritage Month throughout September and the project is one of the many programmes government has identified to promote heritage and culture between South Africa and Tanzania. Some of the projects that are on the pipeline include a heritage museum to be situated in Tanzania, an archives centre as well as a monument in honour of activists who died in the liberation struggle.

Williams said many southern African countries contributed immensely to the liberation of South Africa and that makes the Roads to Independence project critical in preserving the history of liberation movements in Africa and how the struggle was conducted.

“I shudder to think what would have happened to the liberation struggle of our country if it was not for the SADC countries, Tanzania, Mozambique, Botswana and many others. Some of these countries lost their own citizens in the interest to support the liberation struggle of South Africa,” Williams said.

On Sunday, a bilateral meeting of Directors General will take place in preparation of the Meeting of Ministers on Monday. –

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