By MARY RAMADHANI
THE Russian Centre for Science and Culture, famously known as the Russian – Tanzanian Cultural Centre (RTCC) in Dar es Salaam is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year since it became operational in 1990. Its establishment came about due to both government’s need for indefinite agreement on cultural and scientific cooperation.
Opened on the first of December in 1990, today it is one of the 73 Russian Cultural Centers opened by the Russian government worldwide.
Tasked with the responsibility of strengthening traditional friendly ties between the two countries, the center has recorded remarkable achievements which have immensely contributed to the developed social, economic bond over the 30 years of its existence.
Some of the major achievements include many works of Russian classical and contemporary literature, especially children's literature has been translated and published in Russia for Tanzania; and the center is set to continue this tradition in collaboration with a Tanzanian publishing House dubbed ‘Ndanda Mission Press’.
Incidentally, some of the classical works of contemporary Swahili literature like those done by Shaaban Robert were translated to Russian language and were published in Russia.
In an interview with the Daily News, the Representative Officer of the Russian Federal Agency "Rossotrudnichestvo", Counsellor of the Russian Embassy in Tanzania Ms Maria Pateeva pointed out that keen interest in classical music and opera vocals as well as in Russian classical ballet has risen very significantly in the country, as evidenced by the patronage to charity concerts that are held at the RTCC with the hall being filled to capacity.
“The radio program ‘Tuikumbukie Urusi’ deserves a particular mention. It is prepared in Swahili by the center is aired on Radio Tumaini every Saturday, narrating various themes about Russia. Tanzanian graduates of Russian universities are often invited to participate, and talk about various issues including their student years in Russia,” she said.
Adding that the development of scientific cooperation between Russian and Tanzanian scientists has also grown; as the center has been organizing presentations by Russian scientists at Tanzanian universities and also trips of Tanzanian scientists to Russia, research projects undertaken by Russian scientists in Tanzania in collaboration with their Tanzanian colleagues, and provides support in conducting joint scientific conferences.
Ms Pateeva further noted that since 2005 Russian anthropologists have been working together with Tanzanian scientists, in conducting various research works in areas where the Hadza, Dotog and Masai live. Over the years scientists from the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in collaboration with the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and RTCC, have been conducting extensive sociological researches. The work of anthropologists, sociologists and philologists has resulted into scientific monographs of great interest for the development of world African studies.
“In 2005, the center prepared a publication at the ‘Mkuki na Nyota’ publishing house of a collection of articles by Russian Scientists-Africanists and diplomats on the theoretical legacy of Julius Nyerere entitled ‘Julius Nyerere - Humanist Politician Thinker’, she cited.
She mentioned another significant achievement to be an international scientific conference held in 2019 by the Institute for African Studies, together in collaboration with the Mwalimu Nyerere Memorial Academy, that was dedicated to seek solutions for the problems of state-building in Africa; where RTCC enable over 20 Africanists from Russia to take part.
At the initiative of the Dar es Salaam center, a scientific conference dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the ‘Declaration of the UN General Assembly on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples’ was virtually held in 2020 due to the navel Coronavirus pandemic; where 50 reports by scientists from Russia, Tanzania and other African countries were presented at it.
She noted another successful initiative that brought the two countries closer was education. The center has assisted in the training of highly qualified national personnel for all sectors of the economy, health care and science.
“Since independence, more than three thousand Tanzanians have received degrees from Soviet and Russian universities. Over the 30 years of its existence, the center has sent several hundred Tanzanians to study in Russia and today they are successfully working for the wellbeing of their country,” she pointed out.
The RTCC grants scholarships for students who wish to study in Russia by the government of the Russian Federation. “This year scholarships have been awarded to 20 students, and in 2021, the number of Tanzanians who will be granted scholarships has increased to 50,” she asserted.
Further noting that the center has also been providing various internships for Russian students-africanists.
Ms Pateeva mentioned another success of the center to be the popularization of the Russian language.
“For many years, the center has been running Russian language courses which are mainly attended by Tanzanians preparing for studies in Russia. However, in recent years due to the growing popularity of the Russian language in the country, especially with the increase of Russian tourists, Russian language is now in high demand,” she said.
Revealing that RTCC is now branches for Russian language courses in other regions in the country including Zanzibar and Arusha, which are principal destinations of many tourists from Russia.
According to Ms Pateeva, for many years the center has been a base for creative arts teams such as musicians, dancers, and theatre groups.
“The center provides an opportunity for such artists to rehearse, every day for free, and most importantly provide an opportunity for them to showcase their talents and gain popularity by holding concerts and art exhibitions,” she said.
Further mentioning that the center has a books and video library, karate school, and has recently opened a chess club and school dubbed ‘Zanaki Chess Academy’.
Ms Pateeva noted that among the things that brought an even closer bond between the two countries is the consolidation of compatriots as well as graduates of Russian universities. “Tanzania is home to several hundred Russian-speaking people from Russia and the former republics of the USSR. These are mainly women married to Tanzanians who studied in the USSR and in Russia, as well as Russian-speaking businessmen and people working on contracts.”
“I am very pleased to note that over the 30 years of its existence, the RTC C has been accorded good understanding and friendly support from the government and Tanzanians in general,” she applauded as she mentioned few of their friends who have assisted them to include a Ms Elizabeth Magambo, the late Benjamin Mhina, Ms Wilhelmina Malima, Mr Saidi Nguba, artist Muzu Suleimanji, Walter Bgoya, Mr Joshua Madumulla, and Audax Mabulla.
“Today, on the day of the 30th Anniversary of the RCSC, we can say with confidence that our Cultural Centre has made a significant contribution to strengthening friendship between Russia and Tanzania and to the development of cultural ties between the two countries,” she remarked.
According to the RTCC Director, Mr Rifat Pateev said that there are more projects on the way, that aim at strengthening cooperation between the two countries.
“We plan to revive the ‘Children help Children’ project,” this aims at holding fundraises that support several orphanages in the country. However, this time it will be designed to benefit both the giver and the receiver, he said.
“Towards the celebrations of 30 years of RTCC, the center has organized an event dubbed ‘Marika wa Kituo’, which aims at recognizing all efforts done by those affiliated in the success of the center since its establishment,” he revealed.