Urban Narratives (Simulizi Mijini) Symposium Report

Urban Narratives (Simulizi Mijini) Symposium

Urban Narratives (Simulizi Mijini) Symposium was held at the British Council building in downtown Dar es Salam on 1st April. Accompanying the event was a small exhibition of short stories – compiled by Masters students from TU Berlin and Ardhi University. During the past four weeks the students have been exploring and mapping the city as well as interviewing and recording the everyday and extra-ordinary narratives of life in the city. The result is a very special collection with some insightful, and often deeply moving, recollections. The stories should be on-line soon and we’ll post a link to them.

The symposium was arranged in 15-minute presentation slots, so the pace was fast and varied, starting with the international perspective (Jackson on India and Ghana, Lagae on curating an open air architecture museum in Lumbumbashi, Adanali offering a wonderful but at times disturbing insight into the plight of Istanbul, see http://reclaimistanbul.com).

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Yasar Adanali presentation

Part 2 considered the Eastern and Southern African context with Hannah Le Roux considering the notion of movement and heritage in South Africa and Johannesburg in particular. She also shared a wonderful image from the South African Automobile Association revealing the road networks that traversed the continent in the 1950s. Joy Mboya spoke about a festival created by local communities called Nai ni Who http://nainiwho.co.ke. This was followed by a discussion of the neighboring island of Zanzibar by Muhammad Juma, and the problems of preserving and building, in and around the historical context of Stonetown. Zanzibar was explored further after lunch with a project that is seeking to catalogue and document the built fabric of stonetown as well as associated memories and stories.

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Colonial Road Networks of Africa

Annika Seifert shared the vision for the new DARCH building and exhibition spaces located in The Old Boma, including how the material was selected and curated (https://www.facebook.com/DARCHTZ/). The new museum located in a historical colonial building, located opposite the Zanzibar ferry terminal, will be a great resource for the city with its roof top café and ‘public space’.

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The Old Boma

The session and roundtable was wrapped up by Walter Bgoya, who kept things lively, very entertaining and sharply to the point. It was a very enjoyable day and stoked lots of ideas for future research as well as fuelling the desire to take action. As Muhammad Juma reminded us, it is never too late to start campaigning for heritage and making the case to protect and preserve our built environment.

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