Cultural tourism, the idea that nature based tourism could contribute to social, economic and environmental benefits is still very new in Tanzania. It could be an alternative to rapacious resource extraction of uncontrolled logging and forest fires. It could earn the desperately sought income and bring in revenues to properly managed villages and protected areas in the Southern Pare Mountains of Kilimanjaro.
Foreign Tourists visit the Rock for some reason but the Local tourists visit for a completely different reason.
It is not that the South Pare Mountains of Kilimanjaro are better than other places, but they are different, and what we need to do is to become aware ourselves of that difference and to turn it into an asset for others to appreciate.
Cultural tourism, the idea that nature and community based tourism could bring long term economic benefits is still in its infancy in many rural areas of Tanzania. Tourism, however, must work on both the demand and supply sides; otherwise it is not worth having. Community participation and involvement is thus essential. We all form part of communities ,and in that capacity we host tourists when they visit our areas, sometimes directly as in the case of accommodation providers, restaurants and other times indirectly in the sharing of our roads, utilities and other facilities with them. So, involuntarily, we all participate in tourism anyway. Clearly for the relationship between tourists and communities to work it must be sustainable for both parties. Frequently tourism is under-exploited because communities do not realize the potential in their midst. Arts and culture are virtually excluded from and therefore playing only a very small role in tourism .A lack of funds for international promotions is often cited as a major constraint on tourism development; but attention is seldom given to the planning, financing and implementation of product development i.e, marketing in the true sense of the word.
Determining what the core product should be on any potential attraction in the Pares is easier than imagined by using the “Big Five” yardstick. The big five is a well established theme associated with the large animals most tourists want to see. There are however few places in Tanzania that do not have a big five of their own. Probing the question” what are our big five”?invariably reveals astonishingly interesting features which would be outstanding attractions to visitors in the South Pare mountains as our case study—from landscapes, Shengena mountain forest, mountain lake Ranzi, Thornton waterfalls (446 ft from top to bottom hit), Malameni rock, people with cultures totally removed from your own and many others.
Now to answer the question why Malameni rock is visited by different people for different reasons may be it could partly be explained by an extract from some words written by Carl Gustav Jung some more than 50 years back…..” As scientific understanding has grown so our world has become dehumanized. Man feels himself isolated in the cosmos ,because he is no longer involved in nature and has lost his “unconscious identity” with natural phenomena. These have slowly lost their symbolic implications. Thunder is no longer the voice of an angry God, nor is lightning his avenging missile. No river contains a spirit, no tree is the life principal of man, no snake the embodiment of wisdom, no mountain caves the home of a great demon. No voices now speak to man from stones, plants, and animals—nor does he speak to them, believing they can hear. His contact with nature has gone, and with it has gone the profound emotional energy that this symbolic connection supplied.
In many African traditions and cultures that is still the same today.
When we started the cultural and traditional tourism programme it was felt that this spiritual element is giving rise to a yearning among people in industrialized nations a compulsion to connect with their roots. Remember Africa is the birthplace of all mankind. Since then evidence of this has mushroomed by way of increasing number of visitors to our country and specifically our case study Malameni rock and the more this happens the more ears and eyes of the world turn to many other parts of our country Tanzania for solace, sustenance and upliftment.
It is said that there is a time and a place for everything. Tanzania and Africa in general never participated in the industrial revolution, nor the technological era. Largely it was left behind by the developments of the 20th century, the same century that in bringing great wealth to many nations damaged environmental resources so alarmingly and caused such stress to the spirit of humans .Remember the times of slavery, colonialism and imperialism.
Now an interesting situation is developing. It is a Tanzanian mystery, its vastness, and the sum of its parts that constitute its product. For instance the mystery of Malameni rock in the Pares is something beyond the reach of rational discussion. Nor is it something you can buy or own. All you can do is experience it, and interestingly you can’t even do that for what happens is that it experiences you. It is as if Malameni rock remembers one ,and in so doing reminds you of who you are and where you come from.
Elly D.Kimbwereza is the coordinator of Cultural Tourism in the South Pare Mountains Same.
Formerly Chairperson of TACTO (Tanzania Association of Cultural Tourism Organizers).