Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New museum to boost tourism

Deputy Ambassador of USA Isiah Parnell (right) with his wife Tammy Parnell take a tour at Shimoni Caves in Kwale county during the opening of Shimoni Slavery Museum on 12th February 2014. PHOTO/KEVIN ODIT

Deputy Ambassador of USA Isiah Parnell (right) with his wife Tammy Parnell take a tour at Shimoni Caves in Kwale county during the opening of Shimoni Slavery Museum on 12th February 2014. PHOTO/KEVIN ODIT 

By BOZO JENJE
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The opening of a slavery museum at Shimoni on Wednesday is expected to boost tourism.

The museum is the first of its kind in the region and will be incorporated in a tour circuit with both marine and wildlife safaris.

It is housed at the colonial district commissioner’s residence built in 1885 which was however abandoned in the 1980s but restored with a Sh2.5 million assistance from the US Embassy ambassador’s fund.

The museum is expected to rekindle the history of slavery in the region.

Shimoni senior curator Patrick Abungu said the museum’s space would be used by communities for dialogue and exhibitions on slavery in Africa, East Africa and parts of the Kenyan coast.

“Collections of artefacts and paintings will be on display within the building for tourists to see and learn more about slavery,” he said.

REVENUE BOOSTED

Mr Abungu said the museum would be a one-stop-shop displaying information on slavery from Freetown, Gazi, Rabai and Takaungu.

“It is our hope that the community’s economic power will improve and more tourists will be attracted to the South Coast tourism circuit,” he said.

Shimoni Caves chairman Ndalu Mshee said the museum would benefit the community that currently relied on the 10,000 visitors who tour the area annually.

“The museum project will boost the revenue of the local community that depends on tourism to educate their children through a community fund,” Mr Mshee said.

Wasini Women Board Walk group chairperson Swabir Shilingi said the museum’s presence would market the destination more and increase tours to the coral reefs and mangrove.

“The famous Shimoni caves on Mombasa’s south coast are a stark reminder of the human trafficking that thrived up to the mid-19th century,” Ms Shilingi said, adding that history had to be protected to understand the challenges of the past for the betterment of life.

Provide insight

US deputy ambassador Isiah Parnell said the slavery museum was a small investment that could attract the 120,000 Americans who visit Kenya annually.

Mr Parnell said the museum would provide insight on the root of the people, citing African Americans who are keen to trace their roots.

Some, he said, through a partnership could be interested in knowing if they could find their roots in East Africa.

Shimoni, an important tourist haven and a bubbling fishing village, is a direct beneficiary of the business.

National Museum Director sites and monuments said the local community is the pillar for heritage and conservation and they should continue in the preservation of history.

She said history had to be protected to understand the challenges of the past for the betterment of life.

“We need to overcome the difficult situations and improve so that the society benefits,”she said.

Kenya Wildlife Service Shimoni warden Mohammed Kheri said the interagency cooperation with NMK ,County government and the local community would ensure that tourism in the area will flourish.

“With security in the area and hospitality of the community ,the sector will soon experience growth,” he said.

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