Sep 21, 2021

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Questions as Kenya ‘lends’ fossils to French museum

The decision to fly the more than 145 specimens that have been discovered in Kenya over the years to the exhibition is said to have violated a decade-long policy that kept the museum objects under lock and key. Key.

Experts who spoke to the Sunday Nation say that such valuable items are only allowed for scanning and scientific analysis under strict conditions, including deadlines, by sport, Ministry of Culture and Heritage and the National Museums of Kenya (NMK). Photographing or touching the sample with bare hands is generally prohibited. Items that are on public display in Kenya are usually replicas to avoid revealing the originals.

Recently, however, Kenya sent the delicate items to the Reunion of the Musees Nationaux-Grand Palais despite protests from experts , a cultural organization in France that it is currently showing at a public exhibition. These include stone tools that were purchased in Turkana and announced six years ago. Scientific age tests found some to be 3.3 million years old, making them the oldest known man-made objects in the world.

Yesterday, Heritage PS Josephta Mukobe told the Sunday Nation < / em> that the items were loaned and not permanently exported.


“Museums around the world lend each other materials for specific purposes,” she said. “At the moment there is an exhibition in France and the National Museums of Kenya have loaned them some archaeological materials that are expected to be returned after the exhibition.”

It was not immediately clear what benefits Kenya would have benefited from. < / p>

What annoys scientists is the fact that Kenya sent the original items to France, not duplicates.

Among those opposed to moving original samples to France is the Turkana Basin Institute , a center specializing in the study of human origins. In a letter dated April 23rd to the National Museums of Kenya (Director General Mzalendo Kibunjia, seen by the Sunday Nation, Director of the Institute for Research and Science, Prof. Isaiah Nengo requested that the transport be stopped.

” The export of original fossils and archaeological artifacts has only been allowed for decades for specific scientific analyzes that are not possible in the country. The export of these materials will set a precedent that could very well result in the loss or damage of irreplaceable scientific specimens, “said Prof. Nengo.

“I am kindly asking you to reverse the decision to export the original materials and to use high-quality casts instead; not only for this, but for all other future public exhibitions” , he added.

On May 12, paleoanthropologist and former NMK boss Richard Leakey wrote a letter to the K Abinet Secretary Amina Mohamed for Sport, Heritage and Culture, in which he also stated that exports should be canceled and banning fossils except for verified specialized scientific analysis … are pretty serious, ”wrote Dr. Leakey.

He discovered that exactly the items brought to France were made by a team, also from France, under the direction of Dr. Sonia Harmand, the director of the West Turkana Archaeological Project, and whose team found some of the specimens, were examined. The team’s work in Kenya is supported by a bilateral research agreement from the French government, which has a long tradition of not disrupting ongoing research, ”explained Dr. Leakey continues.

The team from Dr Territory were released in California in 2015.

“Researchers say they found the oldest tools made by human ancestors – stone flakes, the dated 3.3 million years ago. This is 700,000 years older than the oldest known tools so far, which suggests that our ancestors made tools several hundred thousand years before the appearance of our genus Homo ”, reported the Science Journal 2015 about the results.

Provincial Museum < / h2>

That made the finds a coveted property. Under normal circumstances, such items are stored in a tamper-proof manner.

“They stay in vaults just like in banks. The walls of the vault are thicker than a meter, ”said Dr. Leakey.

Yesterday we asked Ms. Mukobe if she was aware of the refusal to ship original items.

“Transportation of artifacts from museums follows general guidelines,” she said when she was trying to find out where the Sunday Nation got the information.

Dr Subject. “I am surprised that the National Museum and the Minister would agree to send one of the most important scientific discoveries ever made in Kenya, namely these artifacts, to a provincial museum in France. Kenyans have never seen them; Why do we prefer the French or anyone else over our own people? Leakey.

In the 1970s, he said, a longstanding disagreement arose between himself and his father Louis over differences of opinion about the transboundary movement of fossils and other discovered objects.

“He (his father) sent very valuable specimens to a colonial power, Great Britain – to the British Museum. Not for exhibitions, but for scientists to study and make casts, ”said Dr. Leakey. “And when I came to the museum as the first Kenyan national director, I went to the board of directors and said, ‘I don’t think we should do that. These things should stay here and let people who want to see them come to Kenya. ”

According to a list consulted by the Sunday Nation, items brought to France include flakes of stone and hammer stones, a pickaxe , a hand ax, and fossils of parts of various animals, including a hippopotamus, a crocodile, and an extinct member of the big cat family.

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