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Cultivating Subverted Religious Iconography: Through Public Sacred Space Making in Magomeni, Suna

Sanelisiwe Peta



Dr. Finzi Saidi, Jabu Absalom Makhubu, Dickson Adu Agyei, Mandy Schindler, Prof Antonio Tomas


15 X- Remembering public Space

Over the years, due to the integration of people, their cultures, religions, traditions and various lifestyles, it is apparent that society is increasingly opting for a more secular lifestyle than ever before. The repeated colonisation and decolonisation of Tanzania (1814-1961) has left a lasting unspoken legacy of inequality amongst its people, despite adopting a false notion of “oneness”. This historical disparity is exacerbated in various socio-religious constructs. Exposing these differences in the societal context of Dar es Salaam is still considered taboo. This raises the question of how, as spatial practitioners, we can begin these vital, yet complex conversations through public sacred space making. And whether ‘religious buildings’ are still required in order to connect ‘self’ to a higher power or to feel spiritually inclined. Historically, early religious buildings were seldomly constructed to encourage and house multiple religions.

This project aims to create and encourage a platform of ‘happening’ whereby the cathartic processing of the past and present devastations of colonialism, through the lens of religion, is realised and unearthed through a non-antagonistic approach of sacred space making. This will be conducted alongside the wetland area of the lower basin of Msimbazi River Valley in Magomeni, Suna. The dynamic landscape of the wetland is prone to seasonal flooding and yields devastating consequences. This intervention aims to juxtapose the harshness of the flooding and adjacent abandoned homes by creating a tranquil moment of stillness through agricultural buffers. Furthermore, it aims to intentionally juxtapose religious iconography. The proposed multi-spiritual congregational spaces have the potential to: unveil similarities; accept and encourage differences; and initiate the dialogue of confronting the past by unifying the communities.