The artefacts in the museum’s East Africa collection come from countries such as Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan, and are attributed to over twenty community groups, including Kikuyu, Maasai and Turkana. The interpretation for these objects has changed very little since the 1920s when it was first produced. Notably absent are the stories and voices of the African communities from which the objects were acquired.
Funded by Arts Council England, this project seeks to work as part of the museum’s ‘Reimagining’. We have partnered with local writer and consultant Lucy Edematie, who is of Nigerian parentage, and invited a team of community participants of African descent to work with us. Together, we will explore the stories surrounding the objects and create interpretation that acknowledges and gives voice to the East African communities of origin.
- Reinterpret and redisplay the East Africa collection.
- Interrogate and reframe Percy Powell Cotton’s narrative of the ‘Didinga skirmish’, an incident which led to the deaths of local people in an area of South Sudan.
- Consult, acknowledge and give voice to those who have previously been silenced.
- Build lasting relationships with communities of descent and local partners, ensuring that they are involved in shaping how Black histories and people are represented within the museum.
- Give our audiences a greater insight into the communities of origin of our artefacts and involve them in discussions about how narratives are presented in the museum space.
- Provide a case study that will evaluate the process for best practice and be available to other institutions.
Lucy and the community participants will be contributing to our museum blog with updates on Decolonisation and Practice as the project progresses.