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Museum of history that showcases Kipsigis' past

Tuesday July 16 2019

Philip Cheruiyot, a curator at the museum at

Philip Cheruiyot, a curator at the museum at Kapkatet, Kericho County, holds a leather sash (chepchikilit) which was worn by virgins at the time of marriage. PHOTO | VITALIS KIMUTAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

VITALIS KIMUTAI
By VITALIS KIMUTAI
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Located at the heart of Kapkatet trading centre in Bureti constituency, Kericho County, the Museum of History, Art and Science of the Kipsigis People is a treasure to the community.

Founded on October 20, 2008, the facility has attracted researches, learners and tourists from far and wide. Every day of the week, its doors are open from morning to evening.

The museum’s collection includes tools for tilling, harvesting and serving food, herbs and charms for treatment of various ailments as well as weapons that were used for defence.

Entrance to the museum built in 1946 at
Entrance to the museum built in 1946 at Kapkatet trading centre, Kericho County. PHOTO | VITALIS KIMUTAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

It also houses traditional musical instruments of the Kipsigis like the one-stringed kimeng’eng, the five-stringed chepkesem, the six-stringed chemonge and the eight-stringed ketuba.

FUTURE GENERATION

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“With determination, the Kipsigis people have kept at the minimum diseases through their traditional health services. There is no country in the world that has truly developed without paying homage to its indigenous cultures. That is what we are seeking to preserve for the future generation,” says project initiator Paul Tum.

Mr Philip Cheruiyot, a curator at the centre, says the museum is affiliated to the International Council of Museums and the National Museums of Kenya under the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

Various gourds used to ferment and store milk
Various gourds used to ferment and store milk on exhibition at the museum. PHOTO | VITALIS KIMUTAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“The space is not enough to exhibit all the artefacts and we are making long-term plans to relocate to a more spacious area,” he says.

Though it seldom attracts foreign tourists, an average of 2,000 students from various learning institutions troop to the museum annually to learn the rich history of how their forefathers lived, dressed, ate and handled challenges before the onset of formal education.

The museum stands on a 1946 building, where locals used to barter their produce for sugar from an Asian businessman before independence.

Apart from the more than 800 artefacts collected, a collection of 300 rare books dealing on subjects ranging from art, science, history and culture of the Kipsigis have been collected by the management, and still counting.

THREE BELLS

“We have given this project all our time and energy to the benefit of the community. We do this on a voluntary basis as we are not supported financially by any institution, government or organisation,” a guide, Mzee John Yegon, says.

A leather sash (chepchikilit), with three bells attached to it, which was won by a girl who had remained a virgin until the time of marriage, in what was meant to draw attention to the society of her special status, takes pride of place in the museum.

A leather skirt that women wore sits inside the glass-panelled exhibition wall in the women’s section alongside other ornaments won during cultural functions.

Various types of apparel on exhibition at the
Various types of apparel on exhibition at the museum at Kapkatet trading centre. PHOTO | VITALIS KIMUTAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The glass-panelled sections are split into body apparel, body decorations, music and dance, games, medicines and charms, containers, livestock husbandry, and machines, among others.

An upright head gear (sombet) made of skin and covered with ostrich feathers that was won by dancers in preparation for war is also found in the museum.

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