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Kilimanjaro. Mountain, Memory, Modernity

edited by François Bart, Milline Mbonile

Mount Kilimanjaro is one of Tanzania’s most consummate symbols. Interest in Mount Kilimanjaro dates back to the nineteenth century, when epic excursions by scientists, explorers and missionaries kindled controversy, envy and unquenchable desire; and the mountain became a prototype of colonial exoticism. Contemporary preoccupations with the mountain as an essential ingredient of national identity and of Tanzania’s self-image are in some senses attempts to recapture what has been stolen. Moreover, as part of the legacy of both Chagga farmers and Maasai shepherds, it is both an image of agricultural toil, and of traditional pastoral values. It has become a psychic landmark for collective identity, permanence, heritage and memory. It possesses an outstanding wealth of national resources, and thus embodies the exceptional – as a symbol of comparative wealth, precocity and enterprise incarnate, set in the heart of one on the poorest countries in the world.

The growth of international travel has turned Mount Kilimanjaro into one of East Africa’s major tourist attractions. This expansion has produced a degree of ambivalence. It is a commercial and profitable undertaking, but based on a reductive image of the cultural heritage. It is an opportunity for economic development that may yet undermine biodiversity. Developmental and environmental inequalities on the already unequal mountain are key vectors in its social and spatial reorganisation.

This beautiful book of essays and photographs explores the multifaceted real and imagined natures and features of the mountain from various perspectives: literary, historical, environmental, sociological, geographical and regional; and from three different continents: Africa, North America, and Europe. The study was a Tanzanian-French collaborative project between the Geography Department at the University of Dar es Salaam, an environmental research group at the University Michel de Montaigne-Bordeaux, and the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA) in Nairobi.

ISBN 9789987417995 | 339 pages | 229 x 152 mm | Colour Photographs | 2006 | Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, Tanzania | Paperback




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