Iringa Academic Visit I: The Fahari Yetu Project

Cultural Heritage conservation as a catalyst for regional development

On 17 October 2016 the ACTUS team met with sociologist and anthropologist Jan Küver, lecturer at the University of Iringa, to discuss a local heritage development project funded by the European Development Fund (EDF). The project is known as fahari yetu southern highlands culture solutions and aims at promoting culture and empowering communities to harness their cultural heritage in the five regions of the Southern Highlands of Tanzania. Since 2013, fahari yetu has invested efforts into the improvement and reassessment of three sites: The stone age rock paintings at Isimila, Gangilonga rock with the set up of sanitary facilities and huts and Tungamalenga, which is being designed to become a place for capacity building, small business and meetings for the community.

Our discussion took place at the iconic Boma of Iringa, which was formerly used as a hospital during the German occupation. Thanks to the efforts of fahari yetu the old Boma was renovated into a fine museum telling the history of Iringa, the legacy of hehe warriors and the current development of Iringa through objects, textiles, photos and paintings.

The renovation was not without challenge says Jan Küver. The project faced a number of obstacles, such as securing further funding, overcoming difficulties surrounding the coordination of different stakeholders, building trust with local government institutions, engaging communities and insuring continuity in building renovation activities. Despite these barriers and since its inauguration, the Boma has become a physical manifestation of fahari yetu’s impact, creating employment and serving as a cultural event venue in Iringa Town.