Pamoja tswasonga mbele

I have an acute obsession with museums so I decided to visit another museum today. 

The idea of museums is a strange one. This is a definition I found when I looked up the word museum: a building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are stored and exhibited. My acute obsession with museums began when I visited the East London museum while I was in prep school. We visited the museum regularly throughout primary school whenever our work related to an exhibition that was in the museum. I never questioned the concept nor the content of a museum. Who decides what is of interest and is worthy of being exhibited in a museum?

The Nairobi National Museum has a colonial character even though the work features the history of Kenya, the history of humankind, birds of East Africa and two exhibitions featuring the work of contemporary Kenyan artists. There's also a photo exhibition celebrating Kenya's 50 years of independence. While wandering around I wondered how often the museum is updated as some of the signs look as though they've been there since the birth of the museum.
Ahmed the elephant...The most famous elephant in Kenya who died at 55


Introducing Makhan Singh's story in Kenya's narrative

A random sculpture...it was in a random corner

Celebrating the use of gourds (calabashes) in ancient Kenya

Artwork at the entrance of the museum
 The rest of the day was spent in and about Nairobi. While driving to Parklands (an Indian area where black Kenyans come in and out for work because the area is exclusionary against them living in the area) I noticed the words Pamoja tswasonga mbele celebrating Kenya's 50 years of independence. My friend offered the translation "together moving forward" with a tinge of scepticism, "a nice sentiment" she said as though she doubts it has any bearing on the life experience of what it means being in Kenya. It seems ironic that the 50 year celebration would fall in the same year that "the son of the nation" is the president of Kenya as his father was 50 years ago. It's also the year that the cloud of the Hague hearings hanging above his head at  a time when Kenya is hoping to move on from the violent past that plagues the consciousness of the country. 

My day ended with a catch up dinner with a friend (at an Ethiopian restaurant where the lights went out twice while we were waiting for our meal) who is a journalist in Kenya after her studies in South Africa. She had many interesting stories to share about the anxieties of telling Africa's stories...a conversation for another day I think. The conversation began talking about her experience of being back in Kenya, my experience of Cape Town, our frustrations about the state of Africa with South Sudan, CAR, Egypt facing many conflicts. 

There are many stories that are yet to be told about Kenya and the continent as a whole. Stories that cannot be contained in a museum.

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