Google, National Museums of Kenya unveil Superheroes stories on Mashujaa Day


Google, National Museums of Kenya unveil Superheroes stories on Mashujaa Day
Sports, Culture & Heritage CS Amina Mohamed when she officiated the unveiling of Kenya’s folk and cultural heroes, at the National Museums of Kenya on October 19, 2020.

Google Arts and Culture and the National Museums of Kenya have partnered to launch Superheroes stories to mark this year’s Mashujaa Day and enhance awareness around Kenya’s heritage.

Superheroes is an online exhibition that celebrates Kenya’s history by honouring the heroes and heroines from all the 44 Kenyan communities.

The exhibition was first launched on October 20, 2019 and featured Shujaa stories of 28 superheroes representing 14 communities.

In the past year, Google Arts and Culture and National Museums of Kenya captured Shujaa stories from all Kenyan communities.

The 61 Superheroes collection now features unique stories of 61 “mashujaa” from the 44 communities who demonstrate Kenya’s diversity and foster unity in diversity.

For a long time, Kenyans learnt about their history and culture through folklore.

The continuation of our history was therefore dependent on the ability of our foreparents to educate the younger generations. We were disadvantaged in the preservation of our history.

In an effort to unmask and safeguard our heritage, Masidza Sande Galavu (1993-2020) who was a co-founder at Shujaa Stories Ltd together with his partner Jeff Muchina and his sister Martha Galavu were commissioned in 2017 to document the stories of Kenya’s heroes of pre-independence time through the Superheroes project.

The National Museums of Kenya team played a significant role in the research conducted for this project.

The team was instrumental in sourcing contact persons to interview from each community and leveraged their experience to map out the best routes to locate the various communities.

The documentation is now available in text and illustrative images of the heroes in the Superheroes exhibition.

The exhibition allows Kenyans to explore untold history – history that is not taught in school. Even better, the exhibition is a history reserve for unborn generations.

At the launch event held at the Museum’s headquarters, President Uhuru Kenyatta, in a video message, said: “We must look for our common vision in the dreams of our ancestors. We must seek out their wisdom and preserve their memory. We must bring them to life in a way that present generations can relate – through technology. You can begin that journey by visiting the National Museums of Kenya page on the Google Arts and Culture platform to learn the stories of our folk and cultural heroes, relive their experiences and draw the inspiration that you need from them in order to play your part in constructing and exemplifying our national ethos”

The African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development Raila A. Odinga also delivered his address virtually.

“Technology is making our work much easier in being able to discover our origins, where we came from and where we are today,” noted Mr. Odinga.

“Through the heroes you actually get to know the history of a people. And that is very important in preserving the prestige, and the pride and honour of a people. That is why we talk of unity in diversity”

Superheroes is part of the first-ever digital exhibition titled ‘Utamaduni Wetu: Meet the People of Kenya’ that celebrates Kenya’s cultures, beliefs, generations, and geography.

The exhibition has over 10,000 photos, 130-expert curated exhibits, 4 expeditions, and 60 Google Street Views, offering audiences the opportunity to explore the 61 superheroes from Kenya’s 44 communities.

“As we celebrate Mashujaa Day, I am delighted to announce that we now have at least one superhero for each one of the 44 communities and I invite you to explore these on Google Arts & Culture” said Amb. (Dr.) Amina C. Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Heritage. “I encourage you to read each of the stories, and be inspired by the achievements and bravery of each superhero”

The collaboration between Google Arts and Culture and the National Museums of Kenya has democratised access to our rich heritage and will enable more people to discover our culture in exciting and interactive ways.

“While conducting research for this project, we discovered that there are numerous untold stories of Kenya’s heroes” noted Dr. Purity Kiura, Research Scientist at National Museums of Kenya.

“I believe this project will continue for years to come to capture all the legendary heroes and heroines from our communities”.

“This year we celebrate Mashujaa Day by unveiling 40 additional stories of Kenya’s heroes from all 44 communities, as a build up of the Superheroes initiative started with our partners in 2019” said Amit Sood, Director of Google Arts & Culture.

“I appreciate our partners National Museums of Kenya and Shujaa Stories for making this project a success. We are excited about making the incredible stories of our superheroes more accessible. Listen to these treasures – previously only passed on orally – in lively audio stories. Our goal is to preserve the audio stories for future generations.”

Google’s Country Director for Kenya, Agnes Gathaiya said that the project is part of Google’s commitment to preserving and promoting Kenya’s cultural heritage and communities noting that it is in line with Google’s primary mission of making the world’s information more accessible.

Everyone can now explore at g.co/mashujaa over 10,500 high-resolution photographs, 129 expert-curated exhibits and 80 Street Views of 16 sites, shining light on the intangible heritage and stories of the country’s more than 44 communities officially registered by the government.

 

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