Kestoria Kavazi archives Tanzania feminist stories

Saturday June 11 2022

A poster of Tanzanian feminist Bibi Titi by Kestoria Kavazi. PHOTO | CAROLINE ULIWA | NMG


The online archive Kestoria Kavazi was finally launched on June 4, three years after it was initiated as the coronavirus pandemic slowed down its progress.

The archive was conceptualised as a repository for feminist history of Tanzania, to show, tell and illustrate the role of women in the development of the country. The objective of Kestoria Kavazi is to mainstream women’s role in national development.

There’s a huge gap in well-researched and articulated Tanzanian feminist stories, particularly online. The stories of notable figures like Bibi Titi Mohammed (freedom fighter and political activist), Siti Binti Saad (singer and recording artist) and Nduna Mkomanile (Maji Maji Rebellion soldiers) are yet to be officially recorded.

Read: Samia and all her women in one year of her gender agenda

Also read: Tales of travelling while black and female in Zanzibar

And as the famous quote ‘‘Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter” by Elizabeth Shassere aptly describes the push behind setting up of Kestoria Kavazi to celebrate Tanzanian women.


The launch at the Soma Book Café grounds in Dar es Salaam brought together women from all walks of life and Kestoria Kavazi’s programme manager Magdalena Thomas said; “Patriarchy, as the status quo has shaped much of the stories we consume today from what is picked as news worthy to what we learn, is history. Noticing this gap, we thought to have an archive that documents more stories highlighting the feminine perspectives in our country.” She added that they were still calling on and inviting storytellers to submit their feminist Tanzanian stories for the archive.


A traditional coconut grater with a golden coconut is on display at the Kestoria Kavazi exhibition on June 4, 2022. PHOTO | CAROLINE ULIWA | NMG

The Kestoria Kavazi project is a partnership between various national gender organisations such as Wajiki, Msichana Initiative, Nafasi Artspace, Wildaf, Tawido, Vicoba, Tiba, Sajaki, Tusonge and headed by Soma Book Cafe sponsored by the Women Fund Tanzania and African Women’s Development Fund.

The launch also had an exhibition of items such as the traditional coconut grater known locally as Mbuzi, and the one on display has a golden coconut on it; a multimedia piece of photographs and fabric by Gertrude Alex Malizana questioning the importance of marriage as the pride of a woman.

There was also a short animation video by Gwantwa Lucas on patriarchy and who enforces it, told through the life story of a girl who wants to be a car mechanic to the dismay of her parents especially her mother who does not support her.

Gender activist Eluka Chelu Kibona said; “Unfortunately those with resources and opportunities get to be able to tell their story, dictating what we believe to be knowledge or information. I believe this archive is trying to shift that narrative acknowledging that we all have a particular something to contribute as everybody’s lived experience should be valued equally.” She is a Social Development Adviser at the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office.

Although Kestoria Kavazi deserves accolades there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure the archive is user-friendly, with enough easily accessible information on the site.