Sierra Leone’s National Heritage

Sierra Leone’s National Heritage


The time period museum is from Historical Greek, Mouseoin, which suggests “the place sacred to the muses.” According to Greek Mythology Mouseoin was the temple of muses, the nine goddesses that presided over poetry, music, the arts, sciences and studying. In Greek Mythology the nine goddesses had been the daughters of Zeus, the King of the gods and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. The Greeks thought that the muses lived on Mount Olympus with their chief, the god Apollo (American Affiliation of Museums, 2000). In the 3rd century B.C. through the rule of the Ptolemy Dynasty, when the Greeks ruled around Historic Egypt, Ptolemy 1 Soter launched an institution for literary and scientific review in Alexandria and identified as it a museum. With the revival of learning in the course of the Renaissance in the 15th century A.D. Italian students retained their collections of historic components in rooms called museums. The Renaissance nobles also had adorned their palaces with art, sculpture and collections of curiosities. It was considerably later on that non-public collections passed to community possession and had been set on exhibit. For case in point Pope Sixtus IV opened the Capitoline Museum to the community in 1447 and this was followed by Cesarini also in Rome. The initial museum to be operated as a countrywide institution was the British Museum in 1753 followed by the Palace of Louvre in Paris in 1793.Other well-known 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 often anything new from Africa’ mentioned Pliny who lived from 23-79 A.D. This broad continent of Africa has some lots of firsts. The north of Africa is thought to be the cradle of civilization that is Ancient Egypt. It was in Historical Egypt that the initial museum arrived into existence. Additional south are almost impassible barriers of desert and tropical forests, and further than these, lies the higher portion of Africa identified to the Arabs as Bilad-as-Sudan, the land of the Black men and women. It was in this section of Africa in the Rift Valley in East Africa also identified as Jap Sudan that the oldest form of human lifetime was identified. The Western Sudan (West Africa) can boast of potent historic empires like Ghana, Songhai, Mali and Kanem Bornu.

Sierra Leone too has a incredibly loaded and assorted heritage. She has an considerable all-natural lifestyle her archaeological sites date again to the Previous Stone Age in Africa. Oral traditions date back to the time when the ancestors of current inhabitants settled in their respective parts. There is a terrific variety of a lot of magic formula societies with their connected cultural supplies these as the Poro, Bondo, Gbagbani, Kofo, Regbainlay and Mathoma Magic formula Societies. There are also the outdated classic arts and crafts monuments and relics which commemorate men and women and functions lengthy back. This heritage has been created on in excess of the a long time by the performs of sculptors, architects, painters, musicians, blacksmiths, goldsmiths and other creators of form and attractiveness. Up to 1957 Sierra Leone had no museum. The Monument and Relics Fee of 1st June 1947 delivered the basis for the protection and preservation of ancient, historic and normal monuments, relics and other objects of archaeological, ethnographical (classic Art ) and historic or other scientific desire as laid down by the Act. These historic relics were scattered all about the nation gathering dust and mould in governing administration ware residences, although her ethnographical treasures ended up staying destroyed by weather conditions wooden-unexciting insects. In 1954, Sir Robert de Zouche Hall, a former Governor Standard challenged the Sierra Leone Modern society to develop a National Museum for the place. This museum, according to the Governor, can add to the advancement of nationwide pride by accumulating and preserving objects and creating them out there for contemplation and examine. This problem was taken up by M.C.F. Easmon and other people with the development of a Museum Sub-Committee (Cummings, 1996). The Outdated Cotton Tree Railway Station was acquired and rehabilitated, with the assist of government, and was opened on the 10th December, 1957. The National Museum, according to Sir Maurice Dorman, was supposed to acquire, place in buy and protect the function of man’s hands that was rapid disappearing from the lives of Sierra Leoneans. The Nationwide Museum, he included, ‘should be a place where the illiterate male can be inspired by the screen of what is ideal in his tradition, both in the earlier and present, there-by trying to keep a record of Sierra Leone for posterity.’

MUSEUM Protection

The Sierra Leone Countrywide Museum handles three spots: Archaeology, History and Ethnography. In the location of Archaeology there are big steatite (soapstone) heads, the Maye Yafe or Chiefs’ devils. These are considered to bring fantastic luck to Chiefs and lousy luck to the common gentleman. There are figures named Nomoli, which are an enigma and are of unknown antiquity. The curator believes that these figures day back to the Middle Stone Age. There is a substantial selection of poetry and potsherds and it is thought that some of the pots on display screen in the museum day back to B.C. times. There is also an abundance of Previous Stone Age applications these as choppers, hand axes, and polished New Stone Age applications alongside one another with quite a few steatite bored stones which ended up when made use of as forex and as digging stick weights. In the History spot the most well known product is the authentic Charter of Sierra Leone signed in 1799 by King George III by which the settlement turned a British Colony. There are also models of the de Reuter Stone on which the Admiral engraved his name right after sacking Bunce and Tasso Islands in 1664. Bunce Island was a depot from the place slaves had been transported throughout the Atlantic Ocean. There are effigies of the late Sir Milton Margai, the first Key Minister of Sierra Leone and Bai Bureh, the last warrior chief who fought the British from 1898-1902. There is also a host of materials drawn from the colonial time period this sort of as canon, staffs of chiefs, swords, medals, coins, images, paintings and paperwork. In the spot of Ethnography (Traditional Art) there are fully dressed masquerading dancers e.g. Sowei of the Bondo Society, Goboi, the regalia of Chiefs, Top secret Modern society paraphernalia, exquisite 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 Countrywide Museum has a outstanding collection of artifacts and is certainly a store home of the nation’s cultural treasures (Sierra Leone National Museum Prospectus, 2013).


The Sierra Leone Nationwide Museum preserves the national heritage it is a elaborate establishment for investigate, instruction and tradition. It is an instrument of mass training, which caters for the demands of literates and illiterates, the two younger and outdated. Small children of university heading age make up the most significant community served by the Countrywide Museum by guided excursions. Aside from school teams particular person small children pay a visit to the museum every day. The museum exhibits are applicable to the university syllabi more so in disciplines like Background, Social Studies, Agricultural Science and Civics. As a result essay and poster competitions are run by the museum for young children. Considering that Art is the most natural signifies of expression of folks who cannot study and write the reveals in the National Museum are so organized that they can communicate for on their own. The museum is an critical analysis center. It is study that brings the museum to life and can make it a great deal extra than a repository of useless objects. As study center the National Museum is the only place in the state in which another person can discover these kinds of historic documents like the Sierra Leone Charter. Consequently college students from both of those increased and tertiary establishments as effectively as scientists (locally and internationally) make extensive use of museum product in creating their assignments. Some of the subjects widely investigated on in the museum are the origins of St John’s Maroon Church, tourism as instrument of socioeconomic enhancement, regular educational institutions in Sierra Leone throughout pre-colonial, colonial and present-day times, interment rites of paramount chiefs between distinct ethnic groups in the region, and mining in pre-colonial Sierra Leone.

The Sierra Leone National Museum is not only recognized for elites and the scholarly neighborhood but also to offer a services for the basic public. The primary objective of the museum is to empower the general public to know and enjoy below ailments of show the artifacts which the establishment collects, preserves and safeguards. Entrance to the museum is absolutely free due to the fact it is not only a nationwide museum but also part of an international arrangement (International Council of Museum) to which the Sierra Leone Countrywide Museum is a signatory should. Sierra Leoneans are informed of the point that the Nationwide Museum kinds an integral aspect of the regional society. The specimens of the cultures represented in the museum are at the moment in use and men and women are acutely aware of their existence and features. The museum even though countrywide also passions non-countrywide public composed primarily of European, American and Asian nationals, most of these are ignorant of African society in basic and Sierra Leonean tradition in particular. Paradoxically the museum has touched both of those an educated and really mostly illiterate as nicely as educated and completely uninitiated publics. The subsequent are a couple of remarks from the Museum’s Guests Reserve:

• It is stunning, retain it up! (A Nigerian).

• We entered into African mysteries (An Italian).

• Pretty fascinating! Quite unpleasant particularly the slaves (An American).

• Most and the most effective experience in Regional Heritage).

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

The Sierra Leone Countrywide Museum is an exhibition and conversation center. It supplies call with serious objects. It disseminates facts about Sierra Leonean Art. Artwork items are by themselves paperwork which are eloquent. From naturalistic figures held in the museum folks can master about the costume of the time. A sculptured piece reveals a tiny additional than the individual portrayed. For occasion a carved warrior or hunter in the museum demonstrates the sort of weapon applied at the time. The museum steers very clear of ethnic distribution in the state of its objects. It aims at representing rather than pointing out regional peculiarities. For illustration Rhythmic Arts (musical devices), Occupations (fishing equipment, basketry and pottery), cultural objects (insignia of Chiefs and bride funds), and Women’s Functions (ornaments, combs and cooking utensils)) are portrayed in the museum. The rationale getting that each urban and rural readers are nervous to see their techniques of lifestyle mirrored in the “Ancestral Dwelling,” which is the museum. As nearby readers go round the museum they look for attentively for utensils, equipment, weapons or common faces and are generally delighted or occasionally grievance to workers when these are absent. In transient the Museum performs a very crucial part at national and worldwide ranges. It assists the general public to recognize article content illustrating historical past. As repository of the nationwide heritage it can help people today to uncover the factors of their previous and to obtain new religious wealth. The Museum renews in Sierra Leoneans a sense of belonging to a especially civilization and stimulates in them the spirit of nationwide satisfaction and cohesion which are important ingredients in country building.


The Sierra Leone Countrywide Museum is a member of many specialist bodies both at house and overseas. It has been a member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) due to the fact 1964. The Museum is also a member of the Organization for Museums, Monuments and Web-sites in Africa (OMMSA), the cultural arm of the then Business of African Unity (OAU), now African Union(AU ). The Museum is represented in the Arts Education Association of Sierra Leone, which in the earlier structured Artwork Festivals in universities and faculties it is also represented in the Public Archives Fee and the Sierra Leone Affiliation of Librarians, Archivists and Information and facts Professionals(SLAALIP).

The Sierra Leone Countrywide Museum proceeds to appreciate cordial connection with UNESCO which has assisted in team coaching and source of products the West African Museums Software in Dakar(WAMP),which has performed many workshops on conservation and preservation of artifacts. Foreign Missions way too have contributed immensely to the improvement of the museum. For case in point the Federal Republic of Germany in Sierra Leone erected an extension of the museum as a bicentenary reward. The French Embassy in Sierra Leone via the French Cooperation Complex Department rehabilitated the Outdated Cotton Tree Museum Building. The United States of America, via the Division of the United States Information and facts Solutions has on several occasions invited the curator to go to the United states of america which has resulted to shut 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 Artwork in Chicago. The U S Embassy was also instrumental in the twinning romantic relationship with the Museum of Coastal Background, St. Simons Island, Ga. By means of these hyperlinks the Museum was supplied with the effects of Indiana-American exploration tasks, pamphlets, calendars of coming situations, posters and foreseeable future exhibitions. The twinning with the Museum of Coastal Background, St Simons Island, Georgia, United states of america has led to the investigation of the “Trans-Atlantic Linkage-the Sierra Leone and the Gullah/Geechee Link.” There has been a collection of trade visits between curators and the Good Spring Lecture was shipped at Fort Frederica, St Simon Island in 1995. In the identical year a joint exhibition and a symposium was held on the “Trans-Atlantic Linkage” in Georgia.


1 of the most important issues of the Sierra Leone National Museum is how to beat the theft and illicit exportation of cultural artifacts. The Federal government of Sierra Leone has formulated a extensive national coverage with statutes as contained in the Monuments and Relics Ordinance of 1947. The Ordinance gives for the preservation of ancient, historic and natural monuments, relics and other objects of historical, ethnographical and scientific fascination. Any particular person who desires to export from the place any ethnographical merchandise must submit it to the National Museum a license will be issued which should be proven to customs officers at the place of departure. If an supposed item for exportation has cultural, historic or archaeological price it will be retained in the state as section of the nationwide heritage. Any person discovered violating any of the polices is liable to felony prosecution under the provision of the Ordinance. If observed guilty the human being worried will have to spend a wonderful of two hundred kilos sterling. In default of payment, the person will provide a jail sentence not exceeding six months. Nevertheless, in spite of the attempts built by the Museum to safeguard cultural house smuggling of artifacts proceeds. It is disturbing to notice that in Sierra Leone educated and intelligent individuals order, market and export protected cultural resources just for the sake of business enterprise promotion. What is a lot more Sierra Leone has porous borders which people today use to advantage in smuggling cultural materials out of the region with impunity.

Even more the general public assistance that the Countrywide Museum plays warrants community expenditure, in particular if expectations are to be taken care of. Sadly government grants to the museum are meagre and this poses a further problem for the working of the museum. Usually salaries paid to employees are not only discouraging often but delayed in payment. In 2014 for instance so a lot salary backlog was owed team that employees struck and the museum ceased to work for a whilst. In addition to the Nationwide Museum does not have branches in the provinces but only centered in the funds metropolis, Freetown. Staff are restricted in range and ill-enthusiastic. Barely are they engaged in ability making due to lack of cash. This has led to enormous staff turn-over. Extra in excess of functioning in the museum is not nicely regarded nation-broad. Most individuals check out it as a job for faculty fall outs. As a result younger individuals do not like pursuing museology as a occupation. Also personnel do not embark on significant community education on the importance of the museum in society. Little question why school likely youngsters kind the biggest variety of people to the museum as opposed to governing administration functionaries and important stake holders in the state. Even the line ministry, the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the Museum is less than does not seem to have an understanding of its great importance in country creating. The Ministry priorities its activities and supporting the museum is not a precedence. As a result in time of economic stringency the museum is a prone spot to swindle resources (Sierra Leone Countrywide Museum Prospectus, 2013). If for that reason government needs the Nationwide Museum to keep on actively playing an ever raising role in nationwide improvement there is every single have to have for federal government functionaries to give second assumed on how very best they can support it to meet up with this objective. Where by the troubles faced by administration are resolved the museum way too can support crank out the significantly essential overseas exchange in addition to its preservation of the nationwide heritage.