Round Square African Regional Conference, Tanzania 2018

Tebatso Boholo and Tshepang Mofokeng, accompanied by Ms Glanville, attended the Round Square African Conference at St Constantine’s International School in Arusha, Tanzania from the 17th – 21st February 2018. Participants represented South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania.

The theme of the conference, Utamaduni, “See us before we pass” centred on culture. In addition to showcasing culture, the conference highlighted the challenges of preserving culture and also the controversial aspects of traditional practices that clash with women’s rights. Some of the tribes still practise arranged marriages of girls aged between13 and 15. Edward Loure, one of the speakers shown below, is a Tanzanian tribal activist. He is a member of the Maasai people who was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2016, for his efforts in defending the Maasaian traditional way of life which has been threatened by commercial tourism. He has also worked to defend the Hadza tribe’s claim to land. The Hadza people are nomadic hunter-gatherers whose traditional way of life has been threatened by increasing modernization. We were fortunate to visit a Hadza village where the men demonstrated making fire from sticks and using bows and arrows to hunt. The women exhibited their beadwork.

A visit to the Lake Monyara National Park introduced us to the natural beauty of Tanzania.

Conference participants were divided into groups that were named after different tribes in Tanzania. We debated some of the issues in barazas; attended a drumming workshop and practised a traditional dance that was showcased at the closing ceremony. We were also entertained by a high energy group of dancers from a university based centre for cultural studies.

Each school presented a short piece to highlight an aspect of its own culture and ‘strutted their stuff’ on the catwalk in the cultural fashion show.

We left the conference with more friends, good memories of life in a different African country and a deeper appreciation of the complexities of culture.