These are the words of Julius K. Nyerere, Tanzania's first president and Baba wa Taifa ("Father of the Nation"), spoken to parliament on December 10, 1962.
It's a sentiment being preserved both literally and figuratively by the Tanzania Heritage Project
, a non-profit initiative on a mission to protect and promote the country's rich aural culture.
The organization has set itself the monumental task of digitizing 100,000 hours of rare audio recordings from the reel-to-reel archives of the country's public broadcaster. But far from being a monotonous task, what they've discovered is a vital source of Tanzanian history. From Swahili jazz to interviews with Mohammed Ali, there's a host of gems from the past waiting to be rediscovered and reclaimed by the nation.
"Storytelling and oral history are very important to Tanzanian culture," explains project co-founder and director Rebecca Corey. "Stories, myths, legends, even proverbs, rhymes and songs, all play a part in forming the identity of Tanzanian people and culture as a whole."
Every aspect of this oral history was captured from the early 1960s onwards by the state-run Tanzanian Broadcasting Corporation and their radio station, Radio Tanzania Dar es Salaam.
"[Nyerere] felt that radio was the best way to reach the people," says Corey. "It could reach far out into the villages, into the rural areas of the country, where people couldn't afford TVs at all or if people couldn't read."
In its prime, Radio Tanzania Dar es Salaam had the only professional recording studio in the country and was its sole legal radio station. Part of Nyerere's socialist experiment, much of its original content, spanning music and radio plays, was produced for the state and paid for by it.
"Everything that was recorded during those times... [was] aimed at preserving the oral history of Tanzania," Corey explains. But it was also integral as a means of nation building.
"Whether [it] was supporting Tanzania's struggle against the regime of Idi Amin in Uganda or supporting other movements for African independence around the continent... it was these songs and the stories in those songs that really compelled people to care and listen; to help form opinions and ideas about what Tanzania was about, both in the country and internationally."
Inside the archives
The Corporation's wealth of content required a considerable archive, and everything that was recorded from the early 1960s through to the mid-80s is still housed in the original broadcast site.
Between the rows of well-ordered shelves, labeled numerically with track lists and even the accompanying dance steps, the Tanzania Heritage Project have been diligently poring over a gold mine of music, speeches and ethnographic recordings from over 100 tribes.
Captured on fragile reel-to-reel tapes are pivotal moments in the birth of a nation and vital documentation of the myriad cultures it contains. Recordings of political speeches sit next to traditional songs; news bulletins next to kitchen sink dramas.
To listen to the tapes is a powerful experience for project coordinator Haijand Said. "It feels almost nostalgic, although I wasn't there at that particular time."