Sukuma Museums Mwanza

Father Clement and highlights of the Museum

The Sukuma Museum, like the church at its center, was the brainchild of Father David Clement, working with the Sukuma Research Committee and the Bana Sesilia, local advisors and experts.  We’d visited the campus a half dozen times before there came a day with enough time for a proper tour.  We were fortunate that Jefte Kishosha, the VP for Community Relations for Africa Schoolhouse as well as our guide and friend, had to be pressed into service as a tour guide.  Kishosa grew up around the Museum, and was formerly its director, so he knew each object intimately.  The usual 40 minute tour stretched into two hours, and the two young museum guides in training who tagged along ended up asking most of the questions.

According to the mission s

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The Sukuma Museum is a community based organization that promotes and celebrates the traditional and contemporary arts of the Sukuma culture. The Museum provides an interactive and educational environment where Sukuma elders teach younger generations traditional history and arts, and younger generations are encouraged to develop and expand creative voices and new Sukuma artistic trends. The Museum also welcomes visitors to workshops that provide training for those interested in learning the traditional arts of the Sukuma. The Museum is the only institution devoted to Sukuma culture and is the sole benefactor of objects from the ancient Sukuma chiefdoms and Dance societies.

Founded in 1968, the Sukuma Museum is a clear contrast to the colonial models used for many museums on the continent, including the National Museum in Dar es Salaam.  It was designed not simply to present cultural artifacts as curiosities for the tourist, but to preserve the heritage of and for a people.  Each time we’ve visited the campus, the crowds of school children have far outnumbered the foreigners—good for the mission, though not necessarily for the bottom line.

The museum buildings—unlike the collections, the crafts and the arts practiced there—are a hybrid of tradition and contemporary construction.  Walls are concrete block, painted white with bright decorations, and roofs are thatch reinforced with site-fabricated, curved steel trusses made of reinforcing bars. The black triangles or openings found throughout the wall patterning  “represent the hoe, a symbol of life, death and the cycle of life in Sukuma tradition,” according to Father Alex Mugonya in an article by Aimee Bessire, and “the red, black and blue color triad represents the life of the people of the Lake Victoria region, with red as life and fire, black as the people, and blue signifying water.”  The result is also attuned to the Art Deco of the British Colonial period and the Modernism associated with the decades following independence in the 1960’s Manyara Travel club we  will organize  for  you  please  book  through us  Whatsaap +255676668468 info@manyaratravel.com

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