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The Past, The Present, The Future: Ilchamus

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Petek-Sargeant, Nik  ORCID logo
Nakure, Glen 
Leapai Senteyon, Mercy 
Ng'etich, James 
Nakure, Patrick 


Recent decades have brought immense changes to the Baringo region, and a common feeling encountered among Ilchamus is a fear of loss of culture and identity in the future. This exhibition aims to celebrate the culture, identity, and history of the Ilchamus, and ensure that Ilchamus continue to shape their own future. The exhibition shows how the community's knowledge and skills have persevered and changed through the ages by bringing together 200 years of objects, photographs, oral history, and crafts. It includes archaeological remains from Ilchamus Leabori and Ilchamus Lekeper, photographs of objects in museums that date to between 1887 and 1970, photographs of Ilchamus life since 1900, and the memories of male and female elders.

Together these things demonstrate the rich traditions and traditional objects of this small community on the shores of Lake Baringo. We can follow and appreciate the changes in the environment, lifestyles, and society of our ancestors and make the histories of our elders tangible, helping us preserve the knowledge about the origin of our culture, families, and clans into the future. Joining us are also craftspeople from Kiserian who are keeping the skills of making traditional objects, how they are used, and the knowledge of their history alive.

The Ilchamus knowledge, history and culture has been important for understanding the influence of colonialism on erosion and environment, the history of Maa people and the Loikop wars of 1840s-1870s, and revolutionising archaeological theory. But their contributions have not been recognised appropriately.

The stories, objects, and photographs can also serve as inspiration for the future of the community. This exhibition hopes to inspire others to embrace traditions and create new fashions for the community, highlight new ideas, and it hopes to raise discussions about the future of farming and the environment, and contribute to a resilient future. The exhibition will hopefully strengthen the identity and confidence of the community.



Ilchamus, Baringo, Living culture, Material Culture, Shield, Leathermaking, Crafting

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British Academy (SG2122\210789)