Members’ Voices: PiusMbogo Matunge, Tengeneza Generation


The Mountain Partnership - the United Nations alliance dedicated to mountains - is all about working together for sustainable mountain development around the world. Our vast and diverse membership counts over 470 members to date, across governments, intergovernmental organizations and civil society.

In this latest Members' Voices feature, the Mountain Partnership Secretariat interviews PiusMbogo Matunge of Tengeneza Generation. Read what Pius has to say about the importance of the mountains and their biodiversity to the people and cultural history of Tanzania.

Tell us about yourself. What is your role at Tengeneza Generation?

I am PiusMbogo Matunge, a son of Chief Kilala Matunge. The Matunge community is a chiefdom clan from the Sukuma people. Sukuma translates to "northern people". The Matunge are known for their knowledge and skills in traditional healing. They are also conservationists, as they rely on nature's herbs for their healing properties. The Sukuma are among the 120 tribes in Tanzania whose culture is embedded in the wildlife, nature and forests.

Personally, I am passionate about the conservation of biodiversity, just like my family. I am a founder and director of Tengeneza Generation (TEG) and a curator at MAZI, an art and culture initiative under TEG working with artists and cultural groups to preserve African art and culture. We were the first non-governmental organization from Tanzania to join the Mountain Partnership in January 2022. I am also a curator with eight years of experience in ecobusiness, art and culture, and sustainable development. I have designed and implemented programmes aimed at empowering young people, including with disabilities, especially in the communities adjacent to mountains.

What is Tengeneza Generation, and how is your mission related to mountains?

TEG was founded in 2007 by myself and my friend Godfrey Mohere as a youth group. We met in secondary school while volunteering in school outreach programmes with the local communities. Through this experience, we learned about the hardships young people face due to limited livelihood opportunities to increase their capacities to generate income and create their own businesses.

The name "Tengeneza" means building – building a generation that represents the needs and desires of young people. We believe they have the potential to support sustainable community development.

Of all the sub-Saharan African countries, Tanzania has a vast natural environment with about 840 protected areas, including 12 nature forest reserves. The Morogoro region where TEG is headquartered has more than four nature reserve areas that are part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, such as the Uluguru Nature Forest Reserve.

Our mission is to work with young people as champions of change within their communities. In turn, they work with their families and neighbours to drive sustainable development. We use innovative ways to help communities value their environment and recognize the value of the ecosystem around them.

Why do mountains personally matter to you and your local community?

Tanzanian art and culture are embedded in wildlife and nature. For our communities, the forests are places to pray and worship ancestors, to collect herbs and animal droppings used in preparing medicines, and where all traditional training such as rites of passage and initiation ceremonies take place. According to the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), the Eastern Arc Mountains have lost 70 percent of their forest area in the last 100 years, mainly due to anthropological activities adjacent to the nature reserves.

Losing mountain forests means losing our art, culture and history, as these mountains represent our identity of who we are and what we believe in. For example, the Uluguru Nature Forest Reserve is an important catchment area in Tanzania. It is the source of water for the Kidatu Hydroelectric Power Station, for large-scale rice and sugarcane farming, and feeds the Ruvu River, which supplies water to the Dar es Salaam Region. In addition, it supports the livelihoods of more than 151 000 people living adjacent to the Uluguru Mountains.

Read the full story on Exposure

Photo by Imani Nsamila

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