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February 21, 2018

National Museums of Kenya partners with Italian centre to open underwater archaeology exhibition

The Italian Ambassador to Kenya Mauro Massoni with Malindi Museum Curator and Underwater archaologist Ciza Bita during the opening of the underwater archaeology exhibition in Malindi on February 21
The Italian Ambassador to Kenya Mauro Massoni with Malindi Museum Curator and Underwater archaologist Ciza Bita during the opening of the underwater archaeology exhibition in Malindi on February 21

The National Museums of Kenya in partnership with the Italian cultural institute on Monday opened up a unique under water exhibition in Malindi that is showcasing ancient shows the ancient trade links along the coastal line.

The exhibition was compiled by Kenya’s underwater archaeologist and Malindi Museum Curator Ciza Bita to show the rich archaeological history that exists in the Kenyan waters.

Apart from the exhibition the long term plan is to come up with the first Underwater Museum in Sub Saharan Africa to enable tourists go under the sea and witness the rich cultural heritage that is hidden under the water.

Images displayed in the exhibition include ship wreckage some of which date back to over 500 years ago while others are between 30 to 40 years old.

The aim of the exhibition is to show the world the existence of the rich ancient artifacts which were used in the olden days as a means of travelling for trade.

Moreover there are also images of the kind of products which were being traded both for imports and export during the time.

Dubbed the ‘Amazing wonders of Kenya’s underwater cultural heritage, the exhibition reveals that for over 2000 years there was trade and exchange of goods across the east African coast for textile, pottery .

“Apart from historical sites, beaches and marine parks, Kenyan coast has fascinating cultural heritage lying under the water,’’ said Bita.

Bita said several surveys have been done in the Kenyan ocean to identify and understand the range distribution of cultural heritage’

The surveys he said have shown that Kenyan coast is home to many ancient ship wrecks with the highest concentration of the sites found in Mombasa Malindi and Lamu.

“Shipwrecks database spread along the entire coast are amazing cultural heritage inform of shipwrecks,’’ he said.

The survey revealed that Mombasa had the highest number of shipwrecks amounting to 22 while Malindi and Lamu had eight and three wrecks respectively.

The Italian Ambassador to Kenya Mauro Massoni was the chief guest in the opening ceremony of the exhibition that was attended by over 100 tourists with a majority being Italian nationals.

Franchesca Chiesa the cultural attache and director of Italian cultural institute of Nairobi who played a major role in organising the exhibition was also present.

Massoni in his speech said it was time Kenya invested in recording the ancient history as there was rich cultural heritage that is yet to be known.

The Ambassador thanked the organizers for opening up the exhibition saying the history shows why Italians like spending their holidays in Malindi.

“Initially were holding the cultural activities in Nairobi by bringing this exhibition in Malindi it’s the beginning of moving outside,’’ he said.





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