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ISTEP Tanzania 2015 – Passion for rich traditions:

While working in Arusha, Tanzania with Katie Orr and Wendi Dewey, we had the opportunity to visit three exceptional experiential tourism offerings. One of these offerings was a visit to a traditional Meru tribal farm. There are two very well-known tribes in the area, both with very rich traditions. I had the good fortune of visiting a Masai tribal village when travelling in Kenya a few years back, while the Meru tribe has similarities, both enjoy very rich cultural identities independent of each. I have enjoyed reflecting on both very different experiences. 

Our hosts this week spent decades of their lives working abroad in various countries. During that time, Mama Pallangyo felt she had lost her deep connection with the land, her people, and country. She made a decision to return to Arusha and rediscover her roots and the traditions that are so plentiful. Mama’s vision was to educate youth and raise awareness in the community about her culture. Mama worked with locals to bring a traditional family compound and farm to life. Her family would erect two traditional huts, one chicken coup, begin farming bees, and record traditional music in her native tongue; a language that is becoming a distant memory for today's Arushan community. Mama feels youth need to identify with their ancestors, and carry on the wonderful rich traditions of dance, music, medicine, language, agriculture, and cuisine. The three of us could not agree more!

We spent a late afternoon with her nephew, daughter, and granddaughter fully engaged in her story, and determination to make her dream a reality. She certainly peaked our curiosity, as we were keen not to miss a moment of her journey. A journey that got three Nova Scotians thinking about our great traditions, and our shared interest in preserving them. After all, it is cultural tourism that allows us to live and breathe the lives of locals.

We sought out that day to build relationships for the school, and to collect information related to the needs of the industry. Mission accomplished, with much much more to share, and memories that will last a lifetime. Long live Cultural tourism; what more can we offer our youth at the NSCC than to keep our traditions strong!

Thanks Katie, Wendi, Flora Hakika, Willy Massam, and all the great staff at VETA for making this an educational experience that I will have fond memories of for life!

Ted Grant

Academic Chair

NSCC Akerley Campus

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