Photos invariably reflect the owners of the cameras. We only see select viewpoints. Street scenes like this, and the photo below, suggest more questions than answers. Why are colonial rulers so interested in buildings? What are the people in the photos doing? What are they thinking? How did they earn their livings? How did they relax? Did anyone ask them if they wanted their photos taken?
And in the photo below, what did the soldiers feel about not even being issued shoes as part of their uniforms when the colonizers get leather boots? Cameras are, and were, expensive. Owned mostly by colonial occupiers, and reflecting their interests, concerns and agendas.
This photo above suggests so many questions. Who exported the corrugated iron? How and why did it become so popular? What was it replacing? What happened to the people who made makuti (reed and brush) roofs? What was it like for women who spent their days cooking inside? Why has corrugated iron now become associated with modern living, forward thinking?
This photo – below- is incredible. It’s taken me several years to find any photos of Tanzanian soldiers and their families….it’s courtesy of the Tanga Urithi Museum, this is their caption; “A soldier saying goodbye to his family departing for war in E. Africa. According to John Illife’s research, German had 15,000 soldiers in southwest Tanzania 1916, out of whom 3000 where German and Tanzanians 15,000 whose names where not recorded. “
Our project is looking at the absences. So much is missing about what people (Tanzanian) did, thought and said in their own histories. The project aims to witness, document and co-create through podcasts, photos , testimonies and blogs areas of history. Focusing on the little, the daily… stuff that gets overlooked, and is often the stuff that women do, make, or use. We’re looking at the micro to investigate bigger themes. We’re rummaging around for lost skills and approaches, things that might get lost as we rush towards modernizing, maendaleo. Like this game of Bao, or African chess: