Dear Students and Teachers from:
- Embaruway secondary school;
- Weliweli secondary school; and
- Ganako secondary school;
Dear friends from:
- The Ngorongoro Conservation Authority Area,
- The New Olduvai Gorge Museum; and
- The National Museum;
Dear members of the press.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning and Happy World Heritage Day!
Heri ya Siku ya Urithi Duniani!
Ninayo furaha kubwa kuadhimisha siku hii muhimu pamoja nanyi, katika sehemu yenye umuhimu mkubwa sana duniani.
I come today at a time of very happy news. May I take this opportunity to sincerely congratulate both Tanzania and the Ngorongoro National Conservation Authority Area on yesterday’s important announcement that this area has been awarded the prestigious status of a World Geo Park by UNESCO, the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa and only the second on the African Continent. This award is a fabulous testimony to the efforts of those within the authorities, supported by funding from the European Union to assist with the extensive application process, who strived to make this happen. Many many congratulations that such a deserved award, to sit alongside its existing UNESCO World Heritage status, should be made to coincide with International World Heritage Day.
It is truly an honour to celebrate this day at such a significant place; a place that holds the earliest evidence of human existence. Where we are today holds a wealth of knowledge that has informed a lot of studies and scientists in understanding the early life of human beings. For every archaeologist, paleoanthropologist (I believe the expression in Swahili is Mwana paleoanthrolpogia) and student of evolution this site serves as the remarkable emblem for the origin of species. Here, in this ground around you, lies the unbroken chain over 4 million years old of humankind and its ancestors.
Homo habilis, probably the first early human species, occupied Olduvai Gorge approximately 1.9 million years ago (mya); then came a contemporary australopithecine, 1.8 mya, then Homo erectus, 1.2 mya. Homo sapiens is dated to have occupied the site 17,000 years ago.
The site is significant in showing the increasing developmental and social complexities in the earliest humans largely as revealed in the production and use of stone tools; and prior to tools, the evidence of scavenging and hunting and of the ratio of meat versus plant material, in the early human diet. The collecting of tools and animal remains is evidence of developing social interaction and communal activity. All these factors indicate increase in cognitive capacities at the beginning of the period of hominids transitioning to human—form and behaviour.
Wanasayansi wengi na wanahistoria wamejifunza vitu vingi kuhusu dhana ya maisha ya kale ya mwanadamu kutokana na kumbukumbu zilizogundulika hapa, zaidi ya miaka elfu kumi na saba iliyopita.
I believe you have probably learnt a lot in your history classes about the Olduvai/Oldupai Gorge and the early researches with the two Dr Leakeys, Mary and Louis, the tools used by the early man, lifestyle of the homo habilis, and so on. As a young man, I was at school with their granddaughter and later had the privilege of working with their son, Richard, one of the world’s leading conservationists.
Leo ni siku nyingine ya kujifunza na kuelewa thamani ya urithi huu muhimu.
I hope today you will learn to appreciate this wonderful heritage. This is your heritage and you need to understand how you can also play a part in promoting and protecting it.
These sites are not only sources of knowledge and understanding, but equally important they are sources of revenue for the people of Tanzania. Heritage sites and monuments attract tourism and trade in the areas. Ngorongoro and Serengeti are known all over the world and, as a child myself, I knew more about Oldupai than I did about some parts of my own country. Perhaps because my own parents were born and raised in East Africa may have contributed!
Nevertheless, the opportunities offered to the local economy by eco-tourism are significant. Already, the positive effects are being felt and the European Union is so happy that its support for this area, for the restoration of this museum and for the award of the UNESCO World Geo Park status will boost the economy further:
As I say, we are happy that the EU has been part of the efforts to build this museum, and more broadly support the conservation and promotion of the heritage of Ngorongoro. Our support has also extended in other regions across the country, including in Zanzibar, in the restoration and conservation of important cultural sites and monuments.
Wapendwa wanafunzi na waalimu,
Leo tunakumbushwa urithi tulioachiwa na wazee wetu wakale. Lazima na sisi tuwaze vizazi vijavyo na urithi tutakao waachia.
We must do our best to preserve the heritage that has been passed to us, and also keep the world clean, healthy and habitable for the next generation.
We hope today will be an interesting day for you to learn and celebrate your heritage. Tanzania needs boys and girls, men and women, the young and the old; all working side by side to preserve her heritage and shape her legacy. This is your past and you are its future. Your fathers, mothers and your ancestors forged humanity. It is your responsibility to strengthen it and to preserve it.
Vilevile tuliofika leo tutakuwa na wajibu wakuwafunza wenzetu, familia zetu, jirani na marafiki, kuhusu umuhimu wakutunza rasilimali na kuendeleza urithi unaotuzunguka.