Tanzania: Arts and Culture an alternative to youth unemployment?

Jumping in style

Jumping in style

By Elias Mhegera – The notorious problem of unemployment in Tanzania has generated a series of creativities by youngsters.  One of such initiatives is through performing arts, gymnastics and traditional dances.

again acrobaticsA group of 16 artistes has come up with the Nimujo Edutainment Centre (NEC), being their own creation in the zeal to reduce poverty and earn income to cater for their basic needs. Nimujo is a Makonde name meaning your fellow, it emanates from the Makonde tribe in southern Tanzania.

This group commenced in 2006 with a focus in traditional dances, circus and acrobatics, it is currently under the leadership of Mr. Richard Muro as its Executive Director and Mr. Hatibu Kibwana as its Secretary General.

In August 2014 it transformed itself into an NGO with an aim of attracting more support and even creating employment of artistes who have acquired good education in this area including those from tertiary institutions.

This move, so far two years after this transformation has not attracted any potential job seekers in order to run this organization more professionally. However this does not mean that the youngsters have lost hope, not at all, instead they have resorted into seeking volunteer ship from anyone who is sympathetic to their zeal, and of course, including this reporter.

The approach for good Samaritans have to a large extent made them to survive as a group thorough the little income that they earn due to performances in different areas.

“This has been a main challenge, at times we are abused as some people invite us to perform in their names and we end getting as little as TZS 200,000/= while they pocket up to TZS 1milion from the organizers,”  Commented Muro.

They even do not bother to dwell more on this knowing that the focus should be on what will come next rather than what is happening now. “It is true we are disappointed by this trend, but we know it is process of growth,” adds Kibwana supporting his boss.

Group photo

Group photo

Notable Successes

Although this needs a lot to be done in its managerial capacity but substantive developments have been realized so far. For instance, the Tanzania National Arts Council well known by its Swahili acronym BASATA after Baraza la Sanaa Tanzania has recognized it work and its attempt to educate the society through arts.

This recognition in turn has allowed for other entities to support the group in various forms. So far it has been invited to more than 100 public occasions and therefore putting their earnings to an average of TZS 2m in a month and more.

One such project with Creative Society Inc. was meant to induce parents to allow their children to learn through the internet facility, but also to allow them to rest and have time for playing. Another project of a similar nature was with Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF) which focuses on prevention of Gender Based Violence.

Education through entertainment dancing and singing

Education through entertainment dancing and singing

These invitations have made them to visit many places in Tanzania including the major capitol towns of the regions. These include Mbeya, Mwanza where apart from drama, traditional dance and acrobatics they were given substantive marketing and publicity through screen plays by their hosts.

According to the rating charges an group performance in Dar es Salaam ranges from TZS 700,000 to 800,000 while those up country ranges from TZS 1milion to 1.2 million the increment being caused by transportation and other related logistics.

It was just this year when this group was invited to Lindi region for the National Nane-Nane Celebrations. Good news is, at least the group is invited once in a week whether it is in Dar es Salaam or elsewhere.

They congratulate partners like HakiElimu, WilDAF, Better Nation Foundation, Salama Foundation which after such invitations a monthly income could rise up to more than TZS 4 Million these positive developments have prompted them to open a Face book account while a website is in final preparations, all these being efforts to utilize full the social media and internet facility for advertisement.

Main Challenges

One main challenge which affects all other elements is scarcity of financial resources. This has caused lack of recognition of this group in the NGO world. It has become very difficult to employ technical staffs.

Rajab Swebe one of the miraculous acrobats

Rajab Swebe one of the miraculous acrobats

For that matter, it lacks marketing strategies, but also arrogance and bureaucracy because in Tanzania artistes are not taken seriously in many circles until when they have reached a notable stage of publicity that is when they are used in order to suit certain political purposes.

The payments are in many cases not friendly due to ‘hijackers’ who purports to be middlemen. For instance whenever there are visitations of foreign heads of states middlemen will come with a small package of up to TZS 200,000 while what they had claimed in TZS 1 million but also they will order to reduce the number of dancers ranging from four to not more than seven.

“This is a way can create mistrust among group members and in order to avoid intra-conflicts within our group there are times when we decline such offers,” remarks Muro.

In these circumstances there are efforts to cut them off from the consumers of their works so that the middle men could benefit from the deals. In some cases when they attempt to communicate directly with organizers of events they never get any response hence the name of the group is never mentioned in many such invitations and therefore denying them essential publicity.

“Our group has faced a lot of challenges; we do not have even knowledgeable people within ourselves to write good proposals. We do not have institutional capacity for both audio and visual promotions in radio and television stations,

…because it is expensive to do so, however, we have opened an account with the National Microfinance Bank (NMB) for some savings so that we can eventually rich such a stage,” said the group secretary Mr Kibwana.

The account will also be used to send group members in turns at the Taasisi ya Sanaa na Utamaduni Bagamoyo TASUBA, formerly the Bagamoyo College of Arts for formal trainings; currently the trend is to invite tutors from this institute who always use their spare time voluntarily and coach them on the basics of arts. This has always been done based on friendship rather than contractual consultancies.

Within a short time to come they will be under a one month coaching by Mr. Norbet Chenga leader of the Muungano Dancing Troup which performances have been stalled for some time.

This group calls anyone who can support them in any way to do so taken into consideration that employment has become of the most harsh and monstrous nightmares in Tanzania. The immediate needs are professional proposal writing, marketing segmentation strategies, as well as regular communication and public relations strategies.

 The group profile can be found here: https://www.academia.edu/16512432/PROFILE-NIMUJO_EDUTAINMENT_CENTRE

They can be contacted through their email: Email: nimujocentre@gmail.com, and telephone numbers:

255-(0) 714-077727/ 255 (0) 783-919298