An ethnoarchaeological study of traditional conservation practices of vabena and vakinga of Njombe region

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University of Dar es Salaam
Conservation of heritage assets has been viewed as a new idea into African societies. Although traditional conservation practices (TCPs) existed in Africa before the coming of Europeans, they were regarded as chance practices. Many Africanist scholars assumed that the conservation of African heritage assets either happened by chance or it was a matter of a domination of few people over the available resources. This assumption was worsened by anthropological studies undertaken in Africa from 1800s to mid-1900s. These studies did not consider conservation as an independent discipline, but as part of the social and religious matters. Thus, these studies failed to precisely describe the African TPCs. Studies undertaken after the mid-1900s are much affected by Europeans conservation philosophy as they relied heavily on built or tangible cultural heritage, protected areas and communities adjacent to protected areas. Consequently, the vast arry of Africa’s TCPs are unknown and little has been done so far in Africa and Tanzania in particular. Nevertheless, traditional conservation knowledge is disappearing fast and the power of traditional institutions in conservation of heritage assets is also declining fast. These factors necessitated this study of ethnoarchaeological study of traditional conservation practices of Vabena and Vakinga of Njombe region. Vakinga and Vabena were chosen out of many Tanzanian ethnic groups because they have functioning traditional conservation practices. With the use of an ethnoarchaeological approach, this study adds to the body of knowledge on African TCPs. This study identified and documented different TCPs in Njombe and Makete districts such as: TCPs based on Ecological Knowledge, Intentional Retaining of Ecologically Significant Species, TCPs based on Protection of Certain Species, TCPs based on Protection of Specific Habitat(s),TCPs Based on Temporary Restriction of Harvest, TCPs based on Generation, Accumulation and Transmission of Knowledge and TCPs based on Social Prestige and Memories of the Past. Furthermore, the study analyzes the structures of traditional conservation practices and their changes and continuities. The study shows that the powers of TCPs to conserve heritage assets in the study area are deteriorating and declining due to modern education systems, new religions, population growth, urbanism and commercial agriculture. Consequently, the long-range survivals of cultural and natural heritage assets are endangered. This study appeals to the Government of Tanzania, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and all other stakeholders of conservation of heritage assets to save these diminishing valuable and priceless heritage assets from disappearing.
Available in printed form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF CC79.E85.T34K552)
Ethnoarchaelogy, Conservation, Vebena and Vakinga, Njombe region, Tanzania
Kimaro, F (2018) An ethnoarchaeological study of traditional conservation practices of vabena and vakinga of Njombe region.Doctoral dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam.