Faces of Africa 01/15/2017 Malawi’s hidden treasure

0
2270
Some of the treasures found in Malawi.

 

 

Malawi is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. It has a rich cultural heritage dating back

to over two million years. It has unique artifacts, some of which cannot be found anywhere

else in the world. Some of the treasures in Malawi include historical rock paintings, the two

and a half million old hominid jaw bone, Stone Age implements dating back to over two

hundred and fifty thousand years or older much of it lying unscathed beneath the earth. The

archaeological world has regarded Malawi as an important corridor between the cradles of

mankind in South and East Africa. But due to lack of resources and public appreciation, much

of this unique heritage is at risk of being overlooked or un-cared for.

Some of the treasures found in Malawi.
Some of the treasures found in Malawi.

“Apart from that there is the challenge of expertise. There are only eight people who are

experts in different fields. This is a small number,” told Moses Mkumpha – Malawian

conservator.

Moses Mkumpha is Malawi’s only trained cultural conservator in the last 20 years.

“My vision for the future is that we preserve our heritage, we preserve our legacy for the

common good of the humankind,” told Moses.

Moses never thought he would ever become a conservator. He used to be a high school

biology teacher.

“I became interested in becoming a conservator after looking at an advert in the news. I just

applied. I was just trying. They were looking for someone who had done biology. I just

became interested by chance. From that day I started learning more about it and it has

become life to me now,” told Moses.

He did a crash course in cultural conservation in the United States of America and upon his

return to Malawi he became the country’s first conservator.

A two and a half million old hominid jaw bone found in Malawi.
A two and a half million old hominid jaw bone found in Malawi.

Moses’ responsibility is overwhelming with few resources at his disposal. He single handedly

curates and takes care of these treasures, many spread across the country. This small

country of over fifteen million people has high illiteracy rate. The general populace is

oblivious of the existence and the importance of their country’s treasures. At one point

during the production of this story, Moses happened to meet a group of young men carrying

poles and sign boards from one of the historical sites, Mangochi, a Southern Region in

Malawi.

Moses confronting a young man who had stolen some materials from one of the historical sites in Mangochi, a Southern region in Malawi.
Moses confronting a young man who had stolen some materials from one of the historical sites in Mangochi, a Southern region in Malawi.

Mangochi played a big role in the slavery trade in Malawi during the colonial times. The

young men were quite oblivious about the importance of such materials; all they wanted

was to get some money from selling them.

“That place reminds us of our participation in the slave trade and the horrors that the

people in Mangochi suffered,” told Moses.

Like in many African countries, strong men and women of Mangochi were yoked in chains

and taken to the coast where they were sold.

Moses has taken on educating students in schools about their rich cultural heritage and the

importance of preserving it. This way he believes the younger generation will be interested

in learning about their traditions and their heritage and in the long run help preserve it for

future generations. “I will be happy if we achieve that,” he said.

Leave a Reply