“We are a living culture, not a dead one, and a museum should not be our mausoleum.”  Samwel Nangiria, Rural Human Rights Defender 2017, Tanzania

Living Cultures

Living Cultures is part of a unique collaboration between Oxford University Pitt Rivers Museum and InsightShare, that brought five Maasai elders and leaders from Tanzania and Kenya to the UK for two weeks in November 2018 to realign narratives from the colonial past and relate them to the continuous struggles of the present.

InsightShare have been working with Maasai communities for 5 years using participatory video to support them in their in their cultural preservation. Our commintment with Maasai communities has led to setting up participatory video hubs in Tanzania and Kenya called ‘Otoilo le Maa’ (Voices of the Maasai). Representatives from these two hubs have been working with us and the Pitt Rivers Museum to realign the narratives in the museum. See here how this collaboration started with the museum and our Maasai partners. Watch this 1.30mins version of  “Olosho”, a film on land rights made during our first participatory video project with Maasai community.

Work with Pitt Rivers Museum

The Maasai worked with curators for five days to start the transformation on how indigenous living cultures are represented in the museum, as part of Pitt Rivers Museum’s ‘Origins and Futures’ programme. During this time, the Maasai were able to share valuable knowledge on artefacts presented to them. This helped complete and correct the original labels. Furthermore, the elders of their communities provided a perspective on five sacred objects that were discovered in the museum.

We held events in Oxford and London for 300 people, showcasing the Maasai videos on land rights and traditional land management and exploring the link between the colonial past and the present living culture.

Pitt Rivers Museum has firmly pledged to collaborate with InsightShare and our indigenous partners. Our focus is to develop Living Cultures as an approach to working with indigenous communities represented by collections in museums, using Participatory Video and other participatory media approaches at the heart of the strategy.

Who came?

  • Samwel Nangiria – Maasai activist and Director of NGO-Net,  Loliondo, Tanzania
  • Francis Shomet Ole Naingisa – Maasai elder, Loliondo, Tanzania
  • Kooya Timan –  Maasai facilitator in Participatory Video, Loliondo, Tanzania
  • Yanik Ndoinyo – Maasai leader and activist, Loliondo Tanzania
  • Scholastica Ene Kukutia – Women’s rights activist, Kenya
  • Paulina Feodoroff – Sámi Campaigner, Film and Theatre Artist, Finland

Interview on BBC Worldservice

Samwel Nangiria was interviewed by Jenny Horrocks for  ‘Focus on Africa’ on the BBC Worldservice. In the interview, Samwel talks about the 5 Maasai leaders’ collaboration work with the curators from the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford to realign the narratives of artefacts from their community.

Living Cultures Introduction Video

Maasai Living Culture film


Photos by John Cairns

Photos by John Cairns

Photos by Marti

Photos by Marti

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