Arts Festival and Executive Vision
The auditorium is packed with people, visiting artists dressed in traditional costumes interspersed with Bagamoyo residents of all ages, women with babies wrapped in khanga , men wearing traditional Muslim caps, boys in t-shirts, girls in pretty dresses. The TaSUBa community is spread throughout the auditorium, students, alumni, tutors, and administrators, many dressed up for the festive occasion. A few mzungu sitting here and there, their white faces sticking out in the crowd of black people: volunteers, tourists, and artists. It is hot and stuffy, a pungent smell of perspiration emanating from hundreds of warm bodies, tightly squeezed together on the hard concrete steps of the auditorium. It is noisy, the murmur of people chatting and laughing blending with announcements by the Master of Ceremony, his voice carried by a sophisticated sound system. In the middle of the auditorium, some tables covered with bright cloth and a few rows of upholstered chairs, reserved for top management and high level guests. Above the VIP area, 1 the elaborate sound mixing board securely walled off with concrete and behind it the main entrance, where streams of people enter after buying their tickets, scuffl ing to fi nd a spot to sit on. It is 13 October 2008 and the audience has
gathered for the opening of the 27th Tamasha la Sanaa na Utamaduni (Festival of Arts and Culture), and the inauguration of the new TaSUBa Theater. 2
A torch is lit on stage, the fl ame fl icking as artists and audiences pass on the torch 3 to the VIP section, where it is triumphantly raised by representatives from the Swedish Embassy, the Ministry of Information, Culture and Sports, and the Chief Executive of TaSUBa. Touched by the historical grandeur of the moment, I take some snapshots and video clips to document this ritual inauguration of the new TaSUBa Theater. I cannot help but smile at the audacity of the organizers, lighting a fi re inside the theater to celebrate its reconstruction, an emblematic reminder of the fi re that destroyed the old theater building. The symbolic value of the torch 4 is unmistakable, but I am unsure how to interpret it. A challenge of power, a daring act of lighting a fi re in a building that donors insisted should be fi reproof, thus a roof of aluminum rather than makuti ? A nationalist stance, replicating the torch that is annually toured around the nation, a ritual initiated by Nyerere, as depicted in his statue outside the administration building? Or a submission to power, demonstrating to development partners and political fi gure heads that the fi re that once ravaged the theater building has been tamed, controlled, and contained? That the crisis of governance has been resolved and the redressive action of executive transformation has brought harmonious reintegration, a ship of enterprise now securely anchored in the harbor of new managerialism, along the shores of millenial capitalism? If so, is this yet another carefully scripted frontstage performance concealing backstage schisms?