Maldives > Kenya
Interviewee: Emmanuel Ndiema
What is the relationship between politics and archaeology in Kenya?
In Kenya, archaeology is not very well known among the general public, in recent years therefore we had efforts to promote understanding of archaeology and what role it can play promoting cultural tourism. Realizing the potential for archeology for economic transformation, the political class has picked it up and now used it as tool to promote diversified tourism products in Kenya. On a different levels different actors have resorted to political class to protect the interest for example some people have made communities begin to demand that archaeological material be returned to their area but the underlying interest is political driven as some actors want to be gain favors from the political class in the county government.
How do local communities relate to archaeological sites and archaeological investigations conducted at their land and findings found from their land? Do they have any power or right to control archaeological investigation at their land and to own artefacts found from their land?
So far we have received very positive support from different communities we work with as most of them call us to whenever they find something in their land. They also give consent for archaeological work. They do not however have the right to own the artifacts recovered from their land as all artifacts are protected by law and are given to the NMK. Good stewardship however dictates that we provide information the local communities regarding the research findings don in their area.
I understand Kenya has a rather long history that goes all the way back to the pre-historic period. This makes Kenya very crucial in the evolution studies. This has obviously attracted a lot of foreign as well as local groups working in Kenya. How do you deal with this increasing flow of excavations and research? What measures are being taken to control and to keep track of all of them?
Here at NMK archaeology I receive a lot of requests for research which we evaluate with my committee to ensure that the methods are acceptable and there is nobody working in the area. We also have a data base on all ongoing projects. In some cases we have to get researchers to agree if they want to work in more or less same thing. We also have a time framework where a project has to wind up or show continuity so as to open the way for other researchers wanting to study the same collection.
How much of Kenya’s resources would you say is directed towards the study of it’s underwater and marine archaeology? Does it get the same focus and attention as its land archaeology?
In Kenya underwater archaeology has not received the attention it deserves in this regard, minimal resources are directed towards those area. In recent times though we had growing interests that culminated from the recent UNESCO conference to deliberate the potential for of Kenya’s underwater archaeology. We hope that with this interest will culminate to resources being directed to underwater discipline.
Senior research Scientist National Museums of Kenya.
Questions from Shiura Jaufar in the Maldives.
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