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Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre

Arusha national park in Tanzania
Arusha national park in Tanzania

The Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre is located on the Western edge of Arusha along Dodoma road – about 10 kilometers, right after the first roundabout from Arusha town, opposite ‘Soko Mujinja’ a famous market in Arusha.

Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre, Tanzania
Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre, Tanzania

At its center, stands a museum building with modern architectural design boasting of arguably the biggest collection of African art in this era. From woodcrafts, statues, masks, furniture, utensils, to famous antique doors from Zanzibar to African Art beautifully embedded in paintings and photography. The heritage centre similarly has different shops for souvenirs. Shopping here is hassle-free. If in need of a meal, you will find a restaurant and coffee bar. Nonetheless, the heritage does not have a residential section. One has to stay at nearby hotels (quite a number in the vicinity). We also learnt cameras are not allowed on the premises (but took a few pictures, nonetheless).

The state of the art Museum

The centre’s state-of-the-art gallery offers an artful display that will leave you impressed.  Beauty lies in paintings!  Home of antiques, you will find desirable pieces of art. A huge collection from all over Africa: Ghana, Mali, Ivory coast, Congo, Nigeria’s Yoruab, weapons from the Masai made of animal hides and skin, among many attractions.

Thought peculiar, the centre is home of the “Tanzanite” – a rare blue/violet gemstone only found in Tanzania, in a very small mining area near Mirerani Hills. In the main building, you shall be welcomed by Saif (his nickname) meaning “King of Tanzanite” due to his expansive knowledge of the precious gem.  Saif tells all there is to know about the treasure. The stone can be purchased in different quantities at the premises, all dictated by the visitor’s pocket depth, of course. Away from  tanzanite, the vicinity also encompasses other precious stones like Rubies, Emeralds, Tsavorite, Diamond, Sapphires and Opals. One can purchase a loose stone, together with hand-made jewellery and the designers at the center can help create a unique piece as the visitor may please.

The amazing “Tanzanite” jewels

Inside the Museum

Did you know that there is a tribe that owns an art section in the museum? Makonde is an art specialized in by the Makonde tribe. Visit the cultural heritage and find out how superior and talented the Makonde people are. The art is divinely passed on from generation to generation. A lot of their work is carved out of a distinguished wood called “Ebony”. And the result: incredible!

The cultural heritage centre also gives one a chance to explore the wide range of masks, which show an insight into African culture.  African communities are well-known for craft work and masks are part of their specialty. Every typical African ceremony had to have a mask, ‘the ideal African way of celebration.’ These masks were meant to give meaning to the ceremony as well as identify the mask holder. Kings and Chiefs had different masks from their subjects. The masks also communicated a lot to do with the particular ceremony. Different ceremonies had different masks. The one used at a circumcision ceremony was totally different from one used at a harvest ceremony and thanksgiving, respectively. The masks were made of wood, others copper, while some beads – depending on who wore it.

The Arusha center is also a chance to explore glass works at the Kitengela glass shop. The place is known for best quality glass that has been recycled with a color effect. Shamsua, the man at the glass shop walked us around the amazing delicate glass crafts. He with love, showed us a variety of glass works raging from vessels to utensils. Every department is filled with the splendor of sparkling glass designs.

The adorable, sparkling glass pieces

When you get close to the spice center, the inordinate aroma says it all. The den of spices has all that you may need. The centre’s exclusive restaurant is Arusha’s finest. The experienced chefs prepare all foods in a buffet arrangement – with African, Indian and European delicacies. They also serve a range of seasonal culinary delights, fresh juice and salads straight from the backyard of the heritage orchard.

The cultural heritage also hosts a library sort of arrangement for the book lovers. The section encompasses reading space were one can camp and get lost in the world of authors and wildlife. They book collection is rich, catering for all ages and levels.

Last but not least, if you are not tired by the six hours’ well-guided tour around the center, you may check out the modern cinema. You have a chance to catch some special documentaries, movies about certain tribes and wildlife.

Must we narrate more? Catch the next flight or bus, and get a glimpse of what the Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre is made of.