Chamwino Connect (CC) is a non-profit fund-raising organization in the USA that partners with Chamwino Arts Center (CAC), a central Tanzanian, post-colonial and community-led non-profit organization committed to supporting the sustainability of culture and heritage of Tanzania.
Cultural Sustainability, Chamwino Arts Center, and Chamwino Connect
In 2005, Kedmon Mapana organized the first of 14 annual Wagogo/Cigogo music festivals in the Chamwino Ikulu (the village of Chamwino, Tanzania) as a means of encouraging Tanzanian cultural sustainability. He recognized the absence of Tanzanian music in Tanzanian schools, where instead there existed a colonial emphasis on Western music, and sought to impact the cultural sustainability of Tanzania through curricular transformation. Nearly 20 years later, and through the establishment of the Chamwino Arts Center (CAC), multiple programs and projects in the village are focused on education and empowerment, with close attention to the traditional arts—music, dance, drama, and the telling of cultural stories—as central to the sustainability of the cultural heritage of Tanzania.
The completed construction in 2007 of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Chamwino Ikulu, located in the Dodoma region of central Tanzania, enabled the establishment enabled the establishment of a location for an early childhood educational program for at-risk children. Wagogo culture-bearers taught basic reading and math to young children ages 4-6, along with traditional Wagogo children’s songs, games and dances. Young Wagogo children from Chamwino families attended the Children’s Center, in morning and afternoon sessions of 25 little learners who were offered lunch and snacks as well as instruction.
This early childhood program was encouraged by St. Peter’s Pastors and Elders as well as Godfrey Mdimi Mhogolo (1951-2014), Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Central Tanganyika. Financial support and encouragement came from Chamwino Connect, a 501c3 NGO, co-founded by Dr. Barbara Reeder Lundquist and Kedmon Mapana. Interbay Covenant Church Missions with Pastor Ray Bartel and Quest Church’s Global Missions with Pastor Eugene Cho in Seattle, WA initially assisted Chamwino Connect. A robust group of “Friends of Chamwino,” including board members of Chamwino Connect, have contributed to the projects of Chamwino Arts Center through fundraising efforts and cultural exchanges over the years.
Educational opportunities have been supported by Chamwino Connect (CC), including scholarships for students needing funds for transition from elementary to secondary education. Financial support for advanced placement studies beyond secondary school and support for degrees in higher education have been part of Chamwino Connect’s contribution to the encouragement of the Wagogo belief in “Utamaduni Endelevu kupitia Elimu, Sanaa na Muziki" ("Cultural Sustainability through Music, the Arts, and Education").
With the success of Chamwino Connect’s early childhood program and Tanzania’s expansion of educational focus to include early childhood education meant that the government of Tanzania required that government regulations be met. These included boundary-establishing fences, playground equipment and additional buildings which were beyond the financial resources of Chamwino Connect and the Seattle churches. The requirement of government-certificated teachers in place of Wagogo culture bearers meant that the early childhood program’s vision of sustaining Wagogo music culture would not be served.
At that point, the founding by Dr. Kedmon Mapana of the Chamwino Arts Center, with its assistance in organizing the annual Cigogo Music Festival, began to receive financial support from Chamwino Connect. Later, this resulted in a Memo of Understanding between Chamwino Connect and Chamwino Arts Center. This MOU placed Chamwino Connect in a fund-raising relationship with Chamwino Arts Center.
CAC has expanded its cultural boundaries to include a partnership with several countries focusing on youth empowerment which is supported by a grant from the European Union. A program in Capacity-Building Training for local artists in the Dodoma region was supported by funds from Music in Africa Live. CAC staff has created a project and written for support from the US Embassy’s US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. CAC has participated in an ACCES Conference which is organized by the Music in Africa Organization to bring artists, arts and cultural stakeholders together to collaborate, exchange, exhibit, perform and establish networks for communication. CAC staff is also involved in recording traditional stories and writing them in the Cigogo language, writing them in the language of the Wagogo (known as Cigogo), and providing translations of the stories into English. This is intended to form the foundation for holiday story-telling sessions for children. Recording and creating an archive of Wagogo music culture is underway. Improving CAC acreage by planting trees, establishing boundaries and working toward the design and development of an outdoor theater is also on the agenda.
The appointment of Dr. Kedmon Mapana to be the Executive Secretary of the National Arts Council of Tanzania by President Samia Suluhu Hassan reveals the congruence of her cultural policy with that of the vision of Mapana, Chamwino Arts Center and Chamwino Connect. The president is committed to sustaining the cultural arts of Tanzania. Her leadership in support of African creative arts has been acknowledged with an award in 2022 from AFIMM, a diasporan organization in the West. Steps toward establishment of collaborative relations between Tanzanian cultural officials and leaders of arts organizations in the USA also began in 2022.