Africana Museum

August 11, 2009

Cuttington University also maintains a museum on campus.  The Africana museum has many interesting items from various clans throughout West Africa.  Currently, they have made great progress in trying to rebuild after the war.  Many of the items that were housed in the museum were either destroyed or stolen and sold during the war.  Shame!  I guess the question could be asked, why would someone come in and destroy their cultural heritage?  I guess the same answer is found in why we destroy some of our own neighborhoods back in the states…go figure!


Just so you can get an idea of what is housed in the museum, I am posting several pictures.  You African Art buffs might get a kick out of this.  I’ve been to the museum a few times…the kind gentleman below is the curator and has many wonderful stories regarding the history of the area, the museum, the artifacts and the process they are going through to restore damaged items as well as the overall museum.


Often times at night, you can hear from the far off distance…and I do mean far…the sounds of drums beating.  Now since we are off in the interior I don’t know if the sounds are from a village engaged in a ceremony or if it is some other form of ‘get together.’  Either way, they sound powerful, rich, and full of energy.  Below is a ‘female figure’ drum that stands about 4.5 feet tall (at least).  It is from Guinea Bissau and was used in Muslim Mosques to inform worshipers when it was time to come and pray.  The figure is in a kneeling position to symbolize submission and humbleness to the higher power.  Just standing next to it and feeling the strength of the materials lets you know that this was not the instrument of a light-weight drummer!

Female Figure Drum

These are a pair of drums that go together…one represents the masculine (left) and the one to the (right) represents femininity.  They were utilized primarily during the traditional schools…if you are familiar with Poro and Sande schools.  They are used when school is in session and also to signify graduation.  They were also used in times of war and the death of a Chief, elder, opinion leader, or Zoe (somewhat of a Chief spiritual leader/practitioner).  These drums are also very large and made of strong wood.  They are referred to as ‘Grebo’ Wooden Drums.

Male & Female Drums

This is a Mende female Ancestry figure from Sierre Leonne:

Mende Female

The following are two masks and one statue.  The two positioned the furthest to the left are variations of the ‘Dogon Chiwara’ Antelope Mask of Mali.  It is closely associated with the agricultural culture of the Dogon, Bambara, and Malinke People.  The Mandingoes are said to have descended from the Malinke.

The one furthest to the right is a’Bambara’ Female Figure from Mali…primarily used in ceremonial and ritualistic services.

Various Statues

The next statue is a ‘Kisse’ female figure from Liberia.  It is used mainly for divination purposes…if you look closely it has teeth, corn-rows, and earrings.

Kissi Female

The photo does not provide justice to how amazing the carvings actually are…this is a ‘Baule’ Wooden Door from the Ivory Coast.  It serves as a door to the medicine house that should only be entered by Zoes, Priests and Priestesses.  If you look closely you will see animals, masks and other intricate designs carved into the wood.

Baule Wooden Door

The following picture is another drum.  This is a ‘Kpelle’ drum…the dominant tribe/clan in Bong county.  It is primarily utilized in ‘Kuu’ events.  ‘Kuu’ is a self-help group common amongst the ‘Kpelle’ and other groups throughout Liberia.

Kpelle Drum

What we have here is a ‘Kpelle’ Wooden Horn used by the Zoes when performing rituals.

Wooden Horn

And this, I could not resist taking a picture…simply because it is so colorful and masterfully done…it is a piece of handwoven cloth picturing ‘three women.’

Hand Woven Cloth

And, to give you another view of the amazing carving skills…this is a picture of the door utilized to go in and out of the museum….amazing…that door definitely was not made out of particle board!

Carved Door

For those of you who were looking for some pictures to help explain Kwanza….sorry….didn’t find anything…so you will have to remain confused!!!! 🙂

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