Tourism development and marketing at Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria, divided between Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya is the third largest freshwater lake in the world and the spring of the river Nile. Due to the lake's and river's importance to the continent's water supply, Lake Victoria is also referred to as "The Heart of Africa". Even though "Lake Victoria" besides "Kilimanjaro", "Serengeti", "Ngorongoro Crater" and "Zanzibar" is a name everyone has heard of, and one of Africa's top natural wonders in Tanzania, for tourism, the lake is not highly important. Most safari tourists who are doing the "Northern circuit" of Tanzania start their trip in Arusha and then visit Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Crater & Conservation Area, and the Serengeti, but only few of them proceed to Lake Victoria, even though the lake is bordering the Serengeti, and just adding one day, it would be easy to integrate a trip to Lake Victoria into the Northern Tanzanian safari itineraries.
The Lake Victoria Cultural Tourism Association (VICTA) has the aim to promote tourism at the Tanzanian shore of Lake Victoria (Kagera, Mwanza and Mara regions), emphasizing on "Cultural Tourism". It is VICTA's main idea to make the people and environment of the region benefit from tourism. The association is currently in the process of registration. Its director is Mr. Madaraka Nyerere, son of the founder of the United Republic of Tanzania and first president, Julius Nyerere. In 2008, first meetings took place and the founding members of the association joined forces.
Members of VICTA include traditional blacksmiths who make hoes, axes etc. and can give demonstrations to tourists, traditional presentations of games (Bao, arrow shooting), storytellers, women groups, the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere museum and mausoleum in Butiama Village, the Sukoma Museum in Mwanza (the Sukoma are a tribe), operators of small hotels, tour operators, providers of homestay in Butiama Village and Ukerewe Island, environmental conservation groups, tour guides, wood carvers, cultural conservation initiatives, theatre groups, traditional dance groups, dealers of traditional arts and handcrafts such as batiks, beads, clothes, baskets, bowls, shoes, carvings and local medicines, campsite oprators, bee keepers, and antique collectors.
The members of VICTA can provide tourist offers at Lake Victoria including presentations of traditional handcraft, arts, dance and storytelling, cave tours, coffee farm tours, traditional fishing using spears and dugout canoes, nature walks, visits to Rubondo Island National Park (an island on Lake Victoria), biking tours, and visits to residences of tribal Chiefs in Ukerewe, Butiama and Nyamuswa.
Volunteers and interns can assist in creating exciting tourism packages at Lake Victoria and in marketing them, both to Tanzanian tour operators, which can add an extra day at the lake to their safari itineraries, and on an international level. Active independent travellers who are exploring the area on their own should be addressed, too. You will work both in Butiama Village at the premises of Madaraka Nyerere, and in Mwanza with a tour operator that is member of the association.
Mr. Nyerere is very active in developing tourism in Butiama Village, and you will assist him.
The village is birthplace of his father, Julius Kambarage Nyerere
, Tanzania's "Father of the Nation". In Tanzania, he is worshipped like a saint and many Tanzanian's are making a pilgrimage to Butiama to see Julius Nyerere's grave and museum. Butiama is located 40 km (30 minutes by car) from Musoma, the regional capital, and around 190 km (2.5 hours by car) from Mwanza City. The Serengeti's Ndabaka Gate is at a distance of an one hour's drive and the highly frequented Serengeti's Ikoma area is 3 hours away. Butiama lies at the new main road between Mwanza and Musoma.
In Butiama there is a large park on top of a hill which has beautiful rocks and a stunning view. There are several builings in this park, including Nyerere's mausoleum, Nyerere's private library, Nyerere's house which soldiers built for him using their private money because they were so thankful to him, the house of Chief Edward Wanzagi, tribal Chief and Nyerere's brother, and several traditional granaries. Guided tours are given at the park; typically visitors are participating in this tour after visiting the museum, which is located just a couple of minutes outside of the park.
Visiting the village is primaritly of national interest. Around 85% of the visitors are Tanzanians, 10% Kenyans and the rest are of other nationalities. The reason for this composition of visitors could however be the way the topic is presented and marketed (foreign tourists are not targeted). At the museum and the park tour, a lot of basic knowledge of Tanzanian and East African history and balances of power is required to understand the topic and foreign safari tourists usually don't have this knowledge. However, it would also be interesting to explain to them, how Mr. Nyerere managed to unite a territory in which there are people belonging to 130 different tribes, all speaking their own languages and in many cases fighting each other, including an Arabic island, and forming all these different people to one nation which has been living peacefully since 1961.
Futher, in Butiama Village cultural tourism activities could be offered, to make the visit a full daytrip, for instance by giving presentations about the Wazanaki tribe, to which Nyerere belonged and of which his father and brother were Chiefs. Butiama's "Muhunda Forest" is perfect for exciting tales and activities. Muhunda is the soul of the ancestors, which according to the belief of the Wazanaki is living in this forest. If a big baboon, leopard or a large snake is sighted on the rocks which overlook the forest, the Wazanaki consider it a sign and the village elders will consult the meaning and do secret rituals inside the forest to please Muhunda. Julius Nyerere had built a fence around the whole forest to protect Muhunda from the people and he prohibited the removal of anything from the forest such as wood, plants or fruits.
Next to Muhunda Forest, Mdaraka Nyerere is running a small hotel (the only hotel of tourist standard in Butiama) and he further wants to convert two rooms of his father's private house to hotel rooms, offering a special experience to real Nyerere fans.
The Nyerere Museum is showing old pictures, letters and certificates about Nyerere's life, as well as artifacts he was given as presents from political leaders such as Nehru, Gandhi or Gaddafi, and from African tribal leaders. Gaddafi of Lybia has also built a mosque in Butiama. The way of presentation at the museum is somehow outdated, however, as the museum is run by the National Museum Authorities, Madaraka Nyerere has only limited influence on the museum, and there are very little funds.
If you enjoy developing tourism offers and if you have creative ideas and the skills to implement them to market the Lake Victoria region and Butiama Village, then this volunteering and internship option is the right choice for you!
Place: Butiama and Mwanza, Lake Victoria/Tanzania
Duration: Min. 4 weeks
Costs: free of charge (trouble-free package for € 500
Accommodation: Included, in Mkokotoni
Included: Placement in the project; if you opt for the
trouble-free package the whole range of services which is part of the
trouble-free package is included
Not included: Travel, health
insurance, visa, work permit
this placement now!