The Easter break was an excellent opportunity to explore the region neighboring Mwanza, but where were we to go?
Sign for the
One of Adrian’s students, Pascal, was interested in visiting this museum himself; so together with Albert, his former fellow student, who is now teaching at SAUT, we took off in Albert’s vehicle, heading for Bujora, about a half hour ride east of Mwanza. Once we left the highway we found that the “short distance” to the museum (according to our guidebook to
The community worshiping on the grounds was practicing for the Maundy Thursday services to be held later that day. The singing, typical of Catholic services in East Africa, formed a lovely backdrop for our visit.
This museum was built by the Roman Catholic Church, which began work in converting the tribe over the last 100 or more years. The chapel, built in the shape of a traditional tribal house (though much bigger than such a hut!) represents the heart of this open-air museum. We noticed it before we saw any other parts of the museum, since it took a little while to locate our guide.
The wooden throne for the king was carved out of a single piece of wood. The smaller stools were of interest to us, because the shape is exactly like those still constructed and used by the Tiv of Nigeria; indeed the Tiv are a Bantu tribe, as are most of the tribes of
One of the prerogatives of royalty was to call the people to assembly, and for this purpose the drum was essential. The museum collected a number of drums, most of them are rather well preserved.
Our guide, Sylvester, was helpful in explaining the significance of what we saw, particularly the central importance of the drum, also featured at the signature exhibit marking the opening of the museum.
Drums are important especially for traditional dances. As focal point for an annual dance competition at harvest time (June to August), the Dance pavilion at this museum was instrumental in keeping alive the traditional tribal dances. The competitions feature competing dance societies each trying to attract the largest crowds through innovative dance steps or props. The dances are performed with use of different implements (like those in farming); some use very distinctive clogs, and we noted dances which feature a python.
The skin of a python is used in dances. Even a live python is a favorite feature in some dances. Sylvester told us that a python is kept on the museum grounds for this purpose (although we did not get to see it).
Wendy with plaque acknowledging donors for the construction of the dance pavilion. It was interesting for us to note that donations had come especially from Canadians.
Aside from these central structures, the museum also featured items of everyday life.
Inside the family homestead of a representative of the tribe, containers for milking cows or goats, as well as containers for drinking
Especially interesting was the hut of a medicine man, or traditional healer, featuring photos of well-known medicine men, with their implements, like horns for medicinal ingredients.
More implements, a skin on which the sick could rest, and bracelets as amulets against danger and evil.