The number of people visiting the historical Kapenguria National Museum has reduced since Covid-19 struck in the country with this most revered facility receiving as low as less than 10 visitors a day.
Kapenguria Museum Curator Jacob Wafula told KNA that the landmark facility used to host over 12,000 visitors in a year but regretted the pandemic has been a big blow with very few people visiting.
Wafula attributes the low visits to the closure of schools that used to take learners for educational trips.
“Most of the schools in the Western and North-Rift have been bringing school children for field work. This museum is known for being an educational centre for those who want to know more about Kenya’s struggle for independence and the culture of the Pokot and Sengwer communities,” said Wafula.
The museum is famous for having been a prison where the six Kenyan freedom fighters namely Jomo Kenyatta, Paul Ngei, Bildad Kaggia, Achieng’ Oneko, Kung’u Karumba and Fred Kubai were incarcerated.
Their one-man cell rooms located right at the entrance of the museum have been preserved and they are the centre of attention whenever one visits the facility.
Wafula reiterates that the education department is the backbone of the museum and is optimistic that more visitors will come once schools reopen fully.
Besides the cells for the Kapenguria Six, Pokot and Cherang’ani communities’ cultural artifacts and a children’s corner that has a Gabon Viper snake makes the place worth viewing.
Wafula underscores the value of preserving the two communities’ culture saying they have been working closely with the county government and the local community to help in educating the communities’ young generation about their traditional culture which includes foods, medicines and general way of life.
“The traditional culture among the young generation is vanishing because of digitalization. Most of the upcoming try to demonise the kind of dressing, norms and diets which we are trying to demystify through our exhibitions,” stated the curator.
For international tourists visiting the Western circuit, he said, they will always make a stopover at the museum since it is one of the landmark places for tourist attraction.
He added that they have established community linkages where those wanting to experience the way of life for the community will be connected to small groups of dancers and elders within the county.
“We have small Pokot dancer groups in Masol, Sigor and other places to whom we connect our visitors for life exhibitions,” Wafula said.
They are appealing for partners to come on board so that more activities can be enhanced such as hospitality.
“The space is small and we wish that we could have more to offer such as accommodation facilities. We also wish to have a nature trail and more exhibits such as wildlife especially the small endangered animals,” he said.
The place turned into a museum in 1993 has been hosting dignitaries who have been visiting the county during the Covid-19 period with the latest being the US Ambassador to Kenya Mr Kyle McCarter.
By Richard Muhambe