Why Heritage Matters: Mount Kenya University Rwanda Public lecture

This article was first published in New Times. Click here to see the original article.

Africans should embrace and be proud of the continent’s heritage. The value of the heritage is evident, given the many artefacts that were looted during colonization and are now displayed in foreign museums.

This is according to Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the office of state department for diaspora affairs, Roseline K. Njogu. She said so when she delivered a public lecture on Africa artworks and the diaspora.

She addressed the topic, ‘Restitution, Repatriation and International Law’ at Mount Kenya University Rwanda (MKUR). The public lecture was attended by faculty and students from other Universities in Kigali.

Njogu challenged participants to be proactive in ensuring culture is passed down generations even while abroad.

“Cultures come in different ways, some in clothing, hairstyles, masks and paintings. In many ways, we express ourselves in artworks that are part of our spiritual expression. For many years, there have been calls and radical movements to return the artworks, but questions are asked what should be done if many are to be returned. Many scholars say societies don’t own artefacts, and can be returned, but many museums in Africa don’t have the capacity to keep them.

The legal framework to assist African countries receive their artefacts has challenges. A lot of laws have clauses that protect artefacts stolen from Africa making it hard for them to be returned. International laws were created when African countries were still under colonialism. Through diplomacy, some artefacts have been brought back to countries like Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia,” she said.

The PS praised Rwanda for giving Kenyans an enabling environment to invest in the country. “Mount Kenya University is one of the good examples, which reflects our strong ties with Rwanda. The university has stood out as a strong pillar of education in the region and committed to nurturing professionals to help Rwanda’s vision of development. We shall continue to encourage Kenyans and Rwandans to work together to promote bilateral trade and education among our countries. I will also work out modalities to promote our cultures amongst university students and also encourage more Kenyans to come and study in Rwanda, as its one of the safest and cleanest countries in the world,” said Njogu.

Since setting foot in Rwanda 13 years ago, Mount Kenya University Rwanda is playing a big role in educating the country’s masses and investing in infrastructure and learning materials. It has graduated more than 8,000 students in the fields of Education, Pharmacy, Public Health, Nursing, Medical laboratory, Business, ICT, Information Science, Hospitality, and Journalism.

After the public lecture, the PS held a session with Kenyans living in Rwanda where she assured them that the government is committed to look into their affairs to promote their well being. She also praised them for working and supporting each other even in difficult times.

“My office is mainstreaming in many areas and getting the diaspora to participate to look into your affairs. These include, saving and investing back home, reaching out to Kenyans in need through embassies, and setting up liaison offices for diaspora,” she said. The session was attended by the acting Kenyan Ambassador to Rwanda, Philip Githiora, the Vice-Chancellor Designate, Prof. Edwin Odhuno and the Chairman of the Association of Kenyans living in Rwanda, Boniface Mutua.

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