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African Ceremonies at Strathmore University

Dr Edward Mungai of Strathmore University, Carol Beckwith of African Ceremonies, Mungai's colleague Luis Borallo and Beckwith's colleague Angela Fisher in front of a painted mural at Strathmore Management Building Image: AFRICAN CEREMONIES AND PAUL EKHABA


African Heritage commenced a programme with Strathmore University almost two decades ago to enliven more than six buildings at the university with African art and décor. During this time, David Mweu, former head of the African Heritage Art Department for the past 40 years, has been painting huge murals and other works of art at the university.

The African Heritage collections at Strathmore include African ceremonial objects, original African textiles, sculptures, paintings and photographs by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher of African Ceremonies.

This duo of photographers has spent nearly half a century on the African continent, crossing 300 miles to remote corners of 46 countries in exploration of more than 100 African cultures. In the process, they accumulated the world’s largest photographic archive of African ceremonies and have produced 17 widely acclaimed books and five films about traditional Africa. Many of the ceremonies they have filmed would be extinct except for the photographs captured by these two women.

Their most recent book, a magnificent double volume opus called African Twilight, was launched at a gala event in Nairobi officiated by Culture CS Amina Mohamed in her first function in the ministry.

Twenty-seven of their full-colour photographs have been on display for the last four years, with exhibitions at the Nairobi Gallery in the old PC’s office, at the National Museums of Kenya and the Alliance Française. Carol and Angela have now bequeathed this valuable cache of photos to Strathmore University, where it has found a permanent resting place.

Strathmore cafeteria “Africanised” by African Heritage in dramatic colourful designs based on the Kuba Textiles of DR Congo AFRICAN CEREMONIES AND PAUL EKHABA

The main part of the exhibition at Strathmore is on the second floor of the Law Building, which is occupied by the Microsoft conference room and auditorium. Others are on display at the university’s Executive Dining Room. During the pandemic, Carol and Angela of African Ceremonies have been in Kenya, working on an African Online Museum covering African Cultures across the continent. The online museum is to be launched this year in 40 African universities.


This article was written by Alan Donovan. It was first published in The Star here


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