Sierra Leone’s National Heritage

Sierra Leone’s National Heritage


The time period museum is from Historic Greek, Mouseoin, which signifies “the area sacred to the muses.” According to Greek Mythology Mouseoin was the temple of muses, the nine goddesses that presided more than poetry, tracks, the arts, sciences and mastering. In Greek Mythology the nine goddesses were the daughters of Zeus, the King of the gods and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. The Greeks believed that the muses lived on Mount Olympus with their chief, the god Apollo (American Association of Museums, 2000). In the 3rd century B.C. in the course of the rule of the Ptolemy Dynasty, when the Greeks dominated above Historical Egypt, Ptolemy 1 Soter launched an establishment for literary and scientific study in Alexandria and identified as it a museum. With the revival of finding out for the duration of the Renaissance in the 15th century A.D. Italian scholars saved their collections of historic elements in rooms named museums. The Renaissance nobles also experienced adorned their palaces with art, sculpture and collections of curiosities. It was a lot later that non-public collections handed to public ownership and ended up set on screen. For instance Pope Sixtus IV opened the Capitoline Museum to the community in 1447 and this was followed by Cesarini also in Rome. The to start with museum to be operated as a countrywide institution was the British Museum in 1753 adopted by the Palace of Louvre in Paris in 1793.Other renowned museums are the Art Gallery in which the Mona Lisa is portrayed, the Metropolitan in New York, the Prado in Madrid, the Hermitage in Petersburg (Leningrad), and the Smithsonian in Washington (Sears, 2006).


‘There is always a little something new from Africa’ mentioned Pliny who lived from 23-79 A.D. This wide continent of Africa has some quite a few firsts. The north of Africa is considered to be the cradle of civilization that is Ancient Egypt. It was in Historic Egypt that the 1st museum arrived into existence. Further south are practically impassible obstacles of desert and tropical forests, and past these, lies the larger component of Africa recognised to the Arabs as Bilad-as-Sudan, the land of the Black folks. It was in this section of Africa in the Rift Valley in East Africa also recognised as Eastern Sudan that the oldest kind of human everyday living was found out. The Western Sudan (West Africa) can boast of strong historic empires like Ghana, Songhai, Mali and Kanem Bornu.

Sierra Leone also has a quite abundant and varied heritage. She has an plentiful all-natural existence her archaeological web pages day back to the Outdated Stone Age in Africa. Oral traditions day again to the time when the ancestors of present inhabitants settled in their respective parts. There is a terrific diversity of quite a few top secret societies with their linked cultural components such as the Poro, Bondo, Gbagbani, Kofo, Regbainlay and Mathoma Key Societies. There are also the aged common arts and crafts monuments and relics which commemorate people and situations extensive in the past. This heritage has been constructed on about the decades by the will work of sculptors, architects, painters, musicians, blacksmiths, goldsmiths and other creators of variety and elegance. Up to 1957 Sierra Leone experienced no museum. The Monument and Relics Fee of 1st June 1947 furnished the basis for the protection and preservation of historical, historic and organic monuments, relics and other objects of archaeological, ethnographical (traditional Artwork ) and historic or other scientific curiosity as laid down by the Act. These historic relics ended up scattered all around the place gathering dust and mould in government ware houses, when her ethnographical treasures had been remaining wrecked by climate wood-uninteresting insects. In 1954, Sir Robert de Zouche Hall, a previous Governor Basic challenged the Sierra Leone Society to generate a Countrywide Museum for the state. This museum, according to the Governor, can lead to the expansion of countrywide satisfaction by gathering and preserving objects and making them available for contemplation and examine. This problem was taken up by M.C.F. Easmon and many others with the formation of a Museum Sub-Committee (Cummings, 1996). The Outdated Cotton Tree Railway Station was acquired and rehabilitated, with the enable of government, and was opened on the 10th December, 1957. The National Museum, according to Sir Maurice Dorman, was supposed to collect, put in purchase and protect the do the job of man’s fingers that was fast disappearing from the lives of Sierra Leoneans. The Countrywide Museum, he added, ‘should be a position the place the illiterate gentleman can be motivated by the display of what is ideal in his society, the two in the past and present, there-by keeping a history of Sierra Leone for posterity.’

MUSEUM Protection

The Sierra Leone Countrywide Museum handles a few areas: Archaeology, Heritage and Ethnography. In the spot of Archaeology there are huge steatite (soapstone) heads, the Maye Yafe or Chiefs’ devils. These are believed to provide excellent luck to Chiefs and negative luck to the prevalent guy. There are figures called Nomoli, which are an enigma and are of unidentified antiquity. The curator thinks that these figures date back to the Center Stone Age. There is a big assortment of poetry and potsherds and it is considered that some of the pots on screen in the museum day back to B.C. days. There is also an abundance of Outdated Stone Age equipment these types of as choppers, hand axes, and polished New Stone Age resources with each other with lots of steatite bored stones which had been as soon as applied as currency and as digging stick weights. In the History space the most notable merchandise is the unique Constitution of Sierra Leone signed in 1799 by King George III by which the settlement became a British Colony. There are also styles of the de Reuter Stone on which the Admiral engraved his identify following sacking Bunce and Tasso Islands in 1664. Bunce Island was a depot from where slaves ended up transported across the Atlantic Ocean. There are effigies of the late Sir Milton Margai, the initially Key Minister of Sierra Leone and Bai Bureh, the final warrior chief who fought the British from 1898-1902. There is also a host of supplies drawn from the colonial time period this kind of as canon, staffs of chiefs, swords, medals, coins, photographs, paintings and paperwork. In the location of Ethnography (Traditional Artwork) there are totally dressed masquerading dancers e.g. Sowei of the Bondo Society, Goboi, the regalia of Chiefs, Top secret Society paraphernalia, beautiful carved masks, carvings in human and animal kind, indigenous musical devices like the drums which are integral in African rituals in start, initiation and demise, textile, basketry and other crafts. The Sierra Leone Nationwide Museum has a outstanding assortment of artifacts and is definitely a keep dwelling of the nation’s cultural treasures (Sierra Leone Nationwide Museum Prospectus, 2013).


The Sierra Leone Nationwide Museum preserves the nationwide heritage it is a complex institution for investigation, training and culture. It is an instrument of mass education, which caters for the demands of literates and illiterates, both young and old. Young children of college likely age make up the biggest community served by the Nationwide Museum through guided excursions. Aside from faculty teams personal small children pay a visit to the museum each and every working day. The museum displays are suitable to the faculty syllabi extra so in disciplines like Heritage, Social Experiments, Agricultural Science and Civics. Thus essay and poster competitions are run by the museum for kids. Because Art is the most purely natural signifies of expression of people who are not able to examine and produce the displays in the Nationwide Museum are so arranged that they can discuss for themselves. The museum is an important analysis centre. It is research that brings the museum to daily life and helps make it a great deal far more than a repository of lifeless objects. As investigation middle the National Museum is the only position in the nation wherever an individual can discover these historic paperwork like the Sierra Leone Charter. Thus pupils from each greater and tertiary institutions as nicely as scientists (locally and internationally) make substantial use of museum product in creating their tasks. Some of the matters broadly researched on in the museum are the origins of St John’s Maroon Church, tourism as instrument of socioeconomic development, traditional educational institutions in Sierra Leone in the course of pre-colonial, colonial and contemporary situations, interment rites of paramount chiefs among the unique ethnic groups in the state, and mining in pre-colonial Sierra Leone.

The Sierra Leone National Museum is not only set up for elites and the scholarly community but also to deliver a company for the basic community. The essential objective of the museum is to empower the general public to know and respect beneath problems of display the artifacts which the establishment collects, preserves and guards. Entrance to the museum is free of charge because it is not only a national museum but also portion of an international settlement (Intercontinental Council of Museum) to which the Sierra Leone National Museum is a signatory need to. Sierra Leoneans are knowledgeable of the point that the National Museum types an integral aspect of the community lifestyle. The specimens of the cultures represented in the museum are at the moment in use and men and women are aware of their existence and functions. The museum although countrywide also interests non-countrywide general public composed mainly of European, American and Asian nationals, most of these are ignorant of African lifestyle in common and Sierra Leonean culture in particular. Paradoxically the museum has touched both equally an informed and really mostly illiterate as nicely as educated and thoroughly uninitiated publics. The subsequent are a few remarks from the Museum’s People E book:

• It is spectacular, keep it up! (A Nigerian).

• We entered into African mysteries (An Italian).

• Pretty appealing! Quite painful specially the slaves (An American).

• Most and the ideal encounter in Neighborhood Record).

• It goes a extensive way in preserving our cultural heritage (A Sierra Leonean).

The Sierra Leone Nationwide Museum is an exhibition and interaction heart. It supplies get hold of with genuine objects. It disseminates information about Sierra Leonean Art. Art items are by themselves paperwork which are eloquent. From naturalistic figures held in the museum men and women can master about the dress of the time. A sculptured piece reveals a minor a lot more than the particular person portrayed. For instance a carved warrior or hunter in the museum shows the form of weapon applied at the time. The museum steers obvious of ethnic distribution in the state of its objects. It aims at representing alternatively than pointing out area peculiarities. For case in point Rhythmic Arts (musical instruments), Occupations (fishing gear, basketry and pottery), cultural objects (insignia of Chiefs and bride funds), and Women’s Activities (ornaments, combs and cooking utensils)) are portrayed in the museum. The motive currently being that the two urban and rural readers are nervous to see their strategies of life mirrored in the “Ancestral Home,” which is the museum. As community website visitors go spherical the museum they look for attentively for utensils, applications, weapons or acquainted faces and are typically delighted or sometimes grievance to staff when these are absent. In transient the Museum plays a extremely important element at nationwide and global degrees. It allows the community to recognize posts illustrating heritage. As repository of the countrywide heritage it aids people today to obtain the features of their past and to purchase new religious wealth. The Museum renews in Sierra Leoneans a feeling of belonging to a specially civilization and stimulates in them the spirit of countrywide delight and cohesion which are critical elements in country constructing.


The Sierra Leone National Museum is a member of quite a few expert bodies both equally at house and abroad. It has been a member of the Worldwide Council of Museums (ICOM) considering the fact that 1964. The Museum is also a member of the Business for Museums, Monuments and Websites in Africa (OMMSA), the cultural arm of the then Firm of African Unity (OAU), at the moment African Union(AU ). The Museum is represented in the Arts Schooling Affiliation of Sierra Leone, which in the earlier organized Artwork Festivals in colleges and schools it is also represented in the Community Archives Commission and the Sierra Leone Affiliation of Librarians, Archivists and Information Specialists(SLAALIP).

The Sierra Leone National Museum proceeds to delight in cordial relationship with UNESCO which has assisted in employees schooling and supply of equipment the West African Museums System in Dakar(WAMP),which has executed numerous workshops on conservation and preservation of artifacts. Foreign Missions too have contributed immensely to the advancement of the museum. For case in point the Federal Republic of Germany in Sierra Leone erected an extension of the museum as a bicentenary gift. The French Embassy in Sierra Leone by the French Cooperation Complex Department rehabilitated the Previous Cotton Tree Museum Setting up. The United States of The usa, through the Section of the United States Details Solutions has on several occasions invited the curator to take a look at the United states of america which has resulted to near inbound links with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, the Museum of African Art in Washington, Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Museum of Up to date Art in Chicago. The U S Embassy was also instrumental in the twinning relationship with the Museum of Coastal Background, St. Simons Island, Georgia. By way of these one-way links the Museum was equipped with the final results of Indiana-American research tasks, pamphlets, calendars of coming functions, posters and long run exhibitions. The twinning with the Museum of Coastal History, St Simons Island, Ga, United states has led to the investigation of the “Trans-Atlantic Linkage-the Sierra Leone and the Gullah/Geechee Relationship.” There has been a sequence of exchange visits among curators and the Fantastic Spring Lecture was shipped at Fort Frederica, St Simon Island in 1995. In the exact 12 months a joint exhibition and a symposium was held on the “Trans-Atlantic Linkage” in Ga.


One particular of the key considerations of the Sierra Leone Countrywide Museum is how to combat the theft and illicit exportation of cultural artifacts. The Governing administration of Sierra Leone has formulated a comprehensive national plan with statutes as contained in the Monuments and Relics Ordinance of 1947. The Ordinance gives for the preservation of ancient, historical and normal monuments, relics and other objects of historic, ethnographical and scientific fascination. Any individual who needs to export from the place any ethnographical merchandise must submit it to the Nationwide Museum a license will be issued which really should be shown to customs officers at the stage of departure. If an supposed item for exportation has cultural, historic or archaeological value it will be retained in the place as aspect of the nationwide heritage. Any one uncovered violating any of the rules is liable to legal prosecution under the provision of the Ordinance. If found guilty the person worried will have to shell out a great of two hundred kilos sterling. In default of payment, the particular person will serve a jail sentence not exceeding six months. On the other hand, in spite of the endeavours produced by the Museum to secure cultural house smuggling of artifacts proceeds. It is disturbing to take note that in Sierra Leone educated and smart persons purchase, sell and export safeguarded cultural materials just for the sake of organization promotion. What is much more Sierra Leone has porous borders which persons use to advantage in smuggling cultural resources out of the region with impunity.

Further the community provider that the National Museum plays warrants community expenditure, especially if standards are to be managed. Sadly governing administration grants to the museum are meagre and this poses a different obstacle for the jogging of the museum. Generally salaries paid to team are not only discouraging usually but delayed in payment. In 2014 for instance so significantly income backlog was owed staff that staff struck and the museum ceased to run for a whilst. Apart from the National Museum does not have branches in the provinces but only centered in the capital town, Freetown. Workers are restricted in quantity and unwell-enthusiastic. Rarely are they engaged in capacity creating due to lack of funds. This has led to large personnel transform-over. Extra around doing the job in the museum is not very well regarded country-broad. Most folks look at it as a position for school drop outs. So young individuals do not like pursuing museology as a occupation. Also staff members do not embark on substantial general public schooling on the importance of the museum in culture. Tiny speculate why school going little ones variety the largest number of guests to the museum as opposed to governing administration functionaries and essential stake holders in the state. Even the line ministry, the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the Museum is beneath does not seem to have an understanding of its value in country creating. The Ministry priorities its actions and supporting the museum is not a priority. Therefore in time of financial stringency the museum is a vulnerable place to swindle cash (Sierra Leone Countrywide Museum Prospectus, 2013). If as a result government needs the National Museum to continue on taking part in an ever raising part in national enhancement there is every want for govt functionaries to give second believed on how finest they can assistance it to meet this intention. In which the issues confronted by management are tackled the museum too can assist create the significantly wanted international exchange in addition to its preservation of the nationwide heritage.