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date: 09 December 2023

Heritage and the Use of the Past in East Africafree

Heritage and the Use of the Past in East Africafree

  • John GiblinJohn GiblinDepartment of World Cultures, National Museums Scotland


This article outlines historical and ongoing uses of the past and academic heritage research into those activities within eastern Africa. The use of the past will be discussed as a deep historical practice in the area that is the EAC in the 21st century, demonstrating how political elites have constructed versions of the past to suit contemporary and future aims for hundreds of years. Then there is an outline of the colonial introduction of formalized Western heritage institutions and legislation in the early 20th century, the subsequent nationalization of these in the mid-20th century, and the late-20th- and early-21st-century internationalization of heritage. These overviews are followed by a discussion of different approaches to heritage research including early studies of museums, traditions, heritage management, archaeological introspections, and more recent “critical heritage studies,” which interrogate the use of the past as a form of cultural production.


  • Archaeology
  • Colonial Conquest and Rule
  • East Africa and Indian Ocean
  • Historical Preservation and Cultural Heritage

Setting the Parameters

Geopolitical Limits

This article outlines historical and ongoing uses of the past and academic heritage research into those activities within the region that is the East African Community (EAC) in the 21st century. The EAC is an economic, political, and social regional-intergovernmental organization that includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. The selection of the EAC allows for a more focused approach to the eastern African region, which may otherwise also include Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Somaliland, Sudan, South Sudan, and Malawi—a broad geographic area beyond the scope of this article.

Culture Versus Nature

This article is also selective in its focus on cultural heritage as opposed to natural heritage. In the EAC, as in other areas of the world, heritage has been formally divided into one of three groups based on the perception of inherent natural, cultural, or combined natural and cultural values.1 This division is largely erroneous because the ascription of heritage values is a cultural act, and there are few places in the world that have not been affected by humans—thus, all heritages may be considered biocultural.2 However, the culture-nature dichotomy continues to be useful because it highlights a distinction between the main reasons for identifying and visiting something as “heritage.” Furthermore, the way in which these heritages are used and managed is often quite different. Indeed, in the EAC natural and cultural heritages are typically managed by separate organizations and receive different degrees of investment and attention. For example, natural heritage generally receives more investment in the region than cultural heritage due to its importance for international tourism.

Defining Heritage

Heritage studies can be approached in two ways. The first is exclusive and dependent on the history and effects of the national and international formalization of heritage policies and legislation and their implementation through management strategies.3 By contrast, the second is inclusive and centers on the study of heritage as “the use of the past in the present,” which includes top-down heritage formalization and management processes, which have been termed “authorized heritage,” alongside more fluid bottom-up processes, which have been termed “alternative heritage.” All of these may exist without the use of the word “heritage.”4 Both definitions are useful, and both are problematic. The first definition presents a narrower and more easily identifiable field of study that is dependent on a Western-driven history of a particular archaeological and architectural formalization of “heritage” that emerged in North America, Europe, and some of Europe’s colonies in the 19th and early 20th centuries and was then spread around the world by continued colonialism and globalization. These and other histories of heritage are important as ways of tracing and unpicking how formalized notions of heritage have developed over time. However, they are also problematic, especially in non-Western contexts, because they inadvertently deny the existence of heritage practices (e.g., group inheritances) before the Western emergence and transmission of its own formalized version of heritage. The second approach to heritage studies is problematic for the opposite reason. Heritage as “the use of the past in the present” is so inclusive that it can become a monster that can refer to anything activated in the present that can be said to have roots in the past. Nevertheless, this article favors the inclusive notion of heritage because it is more appropriate for a consideration of heritage outside Western contexts. Of interest here are both typical formalizations of heritage, including archaeological and architectural sites, monuments, memorials, museums, and intangible heritage practices, as well as activities that use the past—such as the teaching of history, political speeches, oral histories, and shrine creation—which are not explicitly framed as “heritage.”

Valuing Heritage

A specific area of interest relevant throughout this article is the construction of what has been variously termed “difficult,” “dissonant,” “uncomfortable,” and “dark” heritage.5 A common misunderstanding is that only the great and the good of the past becomes valorized and celebrated as heritage. However, heritage is not always celebrated. Many events or things that are not remembered positively may be drawn from the past, constructed as heritage, and used in the present (e.g., as lessons from the past not to be repeated) alongside slogans of “never again,” “forgive but don’t forget,” and so on.6 This is especially true for EAC countries and for other African nations that in the last three hundred years or so have experienced slavery, colonization, wars of independence, and post-independence violence: including civil wars, genocides, terrorism, and election-related conflict, all of which have subsequently been constructed as heritage. For example, UNESCO’s World Heritage List (WHL) has received nominations from Tanzania for the Central Slave and Ivory Trade Route and from Rwanda for a selection of genocide massacre sites. While in Uganda recent civil war conflict sites are being turned into heritage sites, and in Kenya a memorial garden marks the 1998 bombing of the US embassy.7


Having defined some parameters, this article will now introduce the use of the past as a deep historical practice in the area that is the 21st-century EAC, demonstrating how political elites have constructed versions of the past to suit contemporary and future aims for hundreds of years. It then outlines the colonial introduction of formalized Western heritage institutions and legislation in the early 20th century, the subsequent nationalization of these in the mid-20th century, as well as the late-20th- and early-21st-century internationalization of heritage. These overviews are followed by a discussion of different approaches to heritage research including early studies of museums, traditions, heritage management, archaeological introspections, and more recent “critical heritage studies,” which interrogate the use of the past as a form of cultural production.

Using the Past

Historical and archaeological evidence demonstrates that constructions of the past have been used in the EAC region for many hundreds of years to maintain sociopolitical or economic norms or effect changes to these in ways that are broadly comparable to contemporary political constructions. Furthermore, it is reasonable to assume that such undertakings existed in the much deeper past, beyond what can be currently seen in extant written, archaeological, and oral-historical records as explored in a pioneering study by Peter Schmidt.8 This section provides some examples of these historic heritage activities and compares them with constructions of the past created by contemporary political actors.

Precolonial Uses

The creation, maintenance, manipulation, and transmission of oral histories is one of the clearest cases of a long-term and widely experienced heritage practice that has been undertaken over hundreds of years in the region, for which considerable evidence still exists. In Rwanda, for example, there were two sets of oral histories, one that was maintained by the royal court and another that persisted in wider society.9 In heritage terms, we can classify the royal court–controlled histories as a top-down authorized heritage practice and those that existed in wider society as a bottom-up alternative heritage.10 The official histories consisted of the rites of kingship, dynastic poems, and the king list that were all typically tied to a common set of royal regalia, which included iron gongs, drums, anvils, and hammers.11 By 1900 these were maintained and transmitted by court ideologues who reportedly had learned them by rote, as had their ancestors since the establishment of the kingdom many centuries previously.12 However, as explained by Jan Vansina, “The performances of these three genres of sources were always closely and directly monitored by the court, because they were crucial to the legitimacy of both the king and political regime and also served to justify the court’s political actions. This role evidently did favor their being remodeled according to the taste of the moment—for instance after a coup d’état—or their being used to justify a political innovation in search of precedents.”13 The regular recasting of royal ideologies in this way, Vansina argues, took place from as early as the late 18th century until they were formalized and written down in the early 20th century.14 This is, therefore, not an example of a gradual construction of an objective history added to chronologically as each event passed and never otherwise changed. Instead, these official, authorized court oral histories were constructions of the past used in the present for political ends.

A comparable example is the ritualistic religious use of the past, such as the maintenance of shrines in Buganda. Buganda is a kingdom located around the northernmost shores of Lake Victoria in 21st-century Uganda. The kingdom emerged in the mid- to late 2nd millennium ad out of a collection of clans that came together under a single ruler. By the 18th century Buganda had developed into a highly centralized state with a strong monarchy. The Baganda believed that their rulers and legendary heroes did not die at the end of their lives but instead “disappeared” or were “lost” and that their spirits could communicate through shrines. The shrines were managed by mediators who delivered the spirits’ messages to the kingdom’s current rulers. In this way, mediators and rulers constructed, managed, transmitted, and used the past to mediate, manipulate, and negotiate current issues to achieve and maintain power. These were uses of the past not unlike those of 21st-century rulers in the region—and those elsewhere in the world.15 For example, the royalty located and subsidized the shrines of three legendary war gods, Kibuuka, Nende, and Mukasa, at strategically important locations to the west, east, and south of the kingdom to maintain the kingdom’s political boundaries.16 In addition, shrines were constructed at the capital to honor past rulers. These were built as small replicas of the royal palace but were maintained in a group at a distance from the royal palace, separated by a road along which the ancestors and current rulers would communicate.17 Through the maintenance of past ancestors, including architectural symbolism and spiritual communications, current rulers could negotiate, establish, and maintain their legitimacy within the wider ruling elite, as has continued in the contemporary world.18

Material culture also demonstrates the symbolic importance of the past for societies in the region well before the arrival of European colonialism. On the eastern African coast in 21st-century Kenya and Tanzania, for example, Swahili archaeology provides evidence for the historic activation of the past. In the late 1st millennium ad a Swahili culture, which defined itself through Islam and the Indian Ocean trade network, emerged out of earlier societies on the east African coast. Swahili societies constructed and employed a past that exaggerated early genetic and cultural relationships with the non-African Islamic world at the expense of their indigenous African connections.19 The intentions and outcomes of these actions can be viewed economically and politically. As brokers between non-Swahili African societies in the hinterland and the vast Islamic Indian Ocean world, Waswahili’ engagement with the Indian Ocean trade network brought considerable financial and political benefits.20 The material traces of this activity can be seen in the relatively high frequency of imported goods at Swahili sites, including ceramic, glass, and metal objects; the proliferation of mosques in Swahili towns from the late 1st millennium ad; the total Islamization of Swahili society by the mid-14th century; and the adoption of Red Sea coral architecture.21 As Adria LaViolette has argued, this can be viewed as a process of self-construction.22 Furthermore, it can be compared to the process of national self-construction that continued in the early decades of postcolonial Tanzania as the state promoted aspects of Swahili culture deemed to be less Indian or Arabic and more African for its nationalist agenda.23

Postcolonial Uses

As discussed above, constructions of the past have been used in the present for political, social, and economic gain for hundreds of years in the EAC region, and similar heritage practices continue in the 21st century in highly conspicuous ways in the speeches of each country’s leaders. This is especially the case regarding the construction and activation of historic liberation struggles as unifying and legitimizing narratives in the present.24 For example, following a bruising reelection in 2016, the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, addressed members of parliament with a long speech with a narrative that began five hundred years ago and finished in the 21st century. The monologue explained how the people of the region were all culturally the same but had been artificially divided by indigenous precolonial tribalism. It went on to explain that those divisions were exacerbated by colonial policies, which led to violent conflict after Uganda became independent in 1962. Museveni went on to say that these divisions had been resolved under his leadership after he came to power in the late 1980s.25 In so doing, Museveni presented a legitimating narrative for his administration and a call for non-ethnic politics as he attempted to rally Ugandan support at a time when he had lost political ground in significant parts of the country, including the capital Kampala.

Museveni’s legitimizing and unifying liberation struggle is the so-called Bush War that took place between 1981 and 1986. The war was fought between the National Resistance Movement (NRM), led by Museveni, and the Ugandan National Liberation Army (UNLA), government forces led by then President Milton Obote. Most of the fighting took place in a region of central Uganda north of the capital that became known as the Luwero Triangle, where it is estimated that fifty thousand to three hundred thousand civilians, mostly Baganda, were killed by government forces in what has been called an act of genocide. In the aftermath of the conflict, Museveni’s new government built thirty-three mass grave memorials at administrative centers across the region that were dedicated to slain “freedom fighters.”26 These memorials communicate a visible message to residents in that region about who stopped the war, who gave them their freedom, and who are the heroes—despite whether residents agree with that version of events or not. Furthermore, two of the memorials are located on the national parade ground in the capital. Consequently, this legitimizing construction is symbolically returned to at each national event held at the parade ground, as it is each time Museveni seeks reelection. In 2015, for example, Museveni launched his presidential campaign for a fifth term in office in Luwero. When asked why he had chosen this location, he responded, “The NRM revolution was started, hatched and built in Luwero. That is why we are launching the campaigns in Luwero.”27 However, the construction of the Bush War as a national unifying liberation ignores the subsequent war in northern Uganda from 1986 to 2006, which was a direct outcome of the Bush War. This so-called Northern War was largely fought between Museveni’s Uganda People’s Defence Force, which was formed from the National Resistance Army and the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel force that emerged partly out of the remnants of defeated UNLA (most of whom came from the north of the country).28 Thus, the Bush War narrative may not be unifying for Acholi and Lango from the north of Uganda who made up most of the UNLA. Within this context, Museveni’s narrative can be understood as a legitimizing heritage construction of the past employed in the present to maintain power.

A comparable situation exists in Rwanda, where the current government, led by President Paul Kagame, uses constructions of history that are framed around the 1994 genocide to legitimize their continued rule.29 In summary, this official narrative traces how ambiguous precolonial social distinctions, Tutsi, Hutu, and Twa, were racialized under colonial rule. It then explains how these colonially constructed racial distinctions led to violence at the time of and since independence, including numerous pogroms that finally culminated in the civil war (1990 to 1994) and genocide (1994) that killed approximately a million Tutsi before it was stopped by the invading Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), who are now governing the country in the early 21st century. The RPF frequently return to this narrative to legitimize their rule and justify the replacement of ethnicized categories such as Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa with a single national Rwandan identity. For example, at the twentieth anniversary of the genocide Kagame repeated the official narrative:

Historical clarity is a duty of memory that we cannot escape. Behind the words ‘Never Again,’ there is a story whose truth must be told in full, no matter how uncomfortable. The people who planned and carried out the Genocide were Rwandans, but the history and root causes go beyond this country. This is why Rwandans continue to seek the most complete explanation possible for what happened . . . Twenty years is short or long depending on where you stand but there is no justification for false moral equivalence. The passage of time should not obscure the facts, lessen responsibility, or turn victims into villains. . . . The most devastating legacy of European control of Rwanda was the transformation of social distinctions into so-called ‘races.’ We were classified and dissected, and whatever differences existed were magnified according to a framework invented elsewhere. The purpose was neither scientific nor benign, but ideological: to justify colonial claims to rule over and ‘civilise’ supposedly ‘lesser’ peoples. We are not. This ideology was already in place in the 19th century, and was then entrenched by the French missionaries who settled here. Rwanda’s two thousand years of history were reduced to a series of caricatures based on Bible passages and on myths told to explorers. The colonial theory of Rwandan society claimed that hostility between something called ‘Hutu,’ ‘Tutsi,’ and ‘Twa’ was permanent and necessary. This was the beginning of the genocide against the Tutsi, as we saw it twenty years ago. With the full participation of Belgian officials and Catholic institutions, this invented history was made the only basis of political organisation, as if there was no other way to govern and develop society. The result was a country perpetually on the verge of genocide.30

Research-led deconstructions of colonially constructed, divisive, and ultimately erroneous racialized identities that contributed to mass violence in Rwanda in the 20th century are important not only for the construction of more peaceful societies but also in terms of achieving a more objective account of history. However, the RPF’s official narrative is clearly an oversimplification that places all blame with European colonialism and Catholic institutions, diminishes Rwandan culpability, and is silent on alleged RPF atrocities during and since the civil war and genocide. This narrative thus ultimately serves to maintain the RPF’s policies and power. Furthermore, this is an all-pervasive official construction that has affected the representation of the past in a variety of areas of Rwandan cultural life. For example, the terms “Hutu,” “Tutsi,” and “Twa” were removed from the National Ethnographic Museum in Butare (also called Huye), history teaching was removed from secondary schools from 1995 to 2011, and museum exhibitions have been constructed at two of the national genocide memorial centers, Kigali and Murambi, to disseminate the narrative to national visitors and international tourists.31 Whether laudable or problematic, the RPF actively construct and employ a version of the past in the present for political ends. This includes the de-legitimization of those that question the Tutsi-dominated government: under the RPFs reimagining of society such ethno-racial categories no longer exist.

In Kenya, by contrast, the violent struggle that preceded the attainment of independence has until recently been actively dissociated from the history of liberation. From 1952 to 1956 a mostly Kikuyu rebellion, called “Mau Mau,” broke out against British colonial rule. The violent conflict saw Kikuyu and other Kenyans separated into three groups: Mau Mau fighting against the British; loyalists, fighting on the side of the British; and those on neither side.32 Although the Mau Mau rebellion was ultimately defeated by the British, it gave momentum to the push for Kenyan independence in 1963. However, a colonial period ban against the Mau Mau movement was maintained by the independence government and remained in place until 2003. This ban restricted the memorialization of Mau Mau activities as part of the national story and prevented claims for compensation against the British. The maintenance of the ban by the newly independent Kenyan government, led by Jomo Kenyatta, was part of an implicit policy of forgetting the conflict to promote national unity: this potential unity may have been jeopardized if divisions between those who fought on different sides (or who did not fight at all) had been exacerbated. Since its unbanning, however, the Mau Mau movement has increasingly become part of a selective national imagining, including the construction of monuments to Mau Mau fighters, inclusion in a permanent exhibition at the Nairobi National Museum in 2009, and implicit recognition in presidential speeches.33 For example, the importance of a unifying liberation struggle was expressed by President Uhuru Kenyatta during Kenya’s celebration of fifty years of independence. For this anniversary, which took place shortly after the death of Nelson Mandela, Kenyatta took the opportunity to link a range of “pan-Africanist” independence movements with Kenya’s liberation struggle, a clear allusion to Mau Mau:

Let us also remember all those pan-Africanists whose sacrifice and unity of purpose saw the liberation of our continent. Together with our founding president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Algeria’s founding President, Ahmed Ben Bella and of course Nelson Mandela, these were visionaries who saw a united Africa as the foundation of a truly prosperous continent . . . We as Kenyans are proud that our freedom struggle provided inspiration to Nelson Mandela, one of history's greatest leaders. . . . Fifty years ago, on December 12, 1963 a new and hopeful nation, Kenya, was born with unlimited potential. We were now a free and sovereign people, and we began the journey of determining our own political, economic, and social destiny. Our struggle for independence, which had gone on for many years, had finally borne fruit. But this independence did not come cheap. It was won by the brave, selfless, and visionary men and women who were willing to sacrifice even their own lives for the love of their country. And, indeed, thousands paid the ultimate price in the course of the struggle . . . The freedom we enjoy today was earned by the blood of patriots and their sacrifices must never be in vain . . . Their passionate dreams for an equitable, free and just Kenya must be our driving force today and in the years to come. Most importantly, the unity exhibited by the freedom fighters, regardless of their race, tribe, religion, or class should motivate our efforts to build a united, prosperous nation, devoid of ethnic or parochial divisions. We must remain, united as Kenyans.34

In making this speech, Uhuru Kenyatta emphasized his status as the son of the first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, thus conveying a sense of familial legitimacy to rule. Furthermore, in ways comparable to the Ugandan and Rwandan examples discussed above, he disseminated a unifying struggle narrative that is not reinforced by historical details. For example, his unifying speech forgets the multiple social and political divisions in the history of liberation and after, and the allusion to the Mau Mau omits that it was banned until 2003.35

Thus, as has occurred for hundreds of years in the region, the distant and recent past continues to be selectively constructed, maintained, and manipulated for political aims.

Colonization, Nationalization, and Internationalization of Heritage

The previous section has identified a long and common history of political, economic, and social reconstruction and use of the past in the present in the EAC region. This can be compared to the colonial, national, and international formalization of a “heritage industry,” including the introduction of museums, monuments, memorials, and their associated antiquities, legislations, and polices—which were also political and for use in the present.


Museums were the first formal Western colonial heritage institutions introduced into the region. The largest of these colonial constructions were later typically adopted as national museums upon the attainment of independence. The Uganda Museum was the earliest to be established in 1908 at an old fort on Lugard Hill in Kampala.36 It was created to house the collections inspired by Governor George Wilson’s encouragement in 1902 to his colonial officers to collect and preserve traditional Ugandan objects. Eventually it became necessary to find a location for the growing collections to be housed and exhibited. The collection continued to develop through the addition of paleontological and archaeological materials generated by new research programs. It was moved to Makerere University in 1941, a professional curator was appointed in 1947, and in 1954 it was moved again to its current location on Kitante Hill. However, due to a problem with the roof, it was not fully open until 1959.37 Following independence in 1961, the colonial museum was adopted as the national museum and later expanded with new wings, including one that celebrated independence and another natural history. Many of the original exhibits have been refreshed in recent years. But the overall layout and content of Uganda Museum has remained largely unchanged since developments in the 1950s and 1960s. A notable addition in the last decade is an outdoor architectural exhibition of traditional housing, and new developments are being planned to significantly increase the museum’s size.

By contrast with the ethnographic roots of Uganda Museum, those of the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) can be traced to the collections of the East Africa and Uganda Natural History Society, later called the East African Natural History Society (EANHS), which was founded by senior British colonial officials.38 In 1910, the society required a location to store and display its collection and established a museum at Nyayo House in Nairobi.39 As the collection grew, in 1922 the museum was moved to a larger space on the current site of the Nairobi Serena Hotel before being granted a permanent location on Museum Hill, where it opened in 1930 and remains into the 21st century.40 At its final location, it was renamed the Coryndon Museum after Sir Robert Thorne Coryndon, a governor of Kenya and supporter of the EANHS, who had recently and suddenly died.41 From this time, archaeological, paleontological, and geological materials became increasingly important, alongside natural history.42 Following independence in 1963 it became the Nairobi National Museum (NNM) and was joined by Fort Jesus in Mombasa, a 16th-century Portuguese fort with Islamic and Portuguese collections, as Kenya’s second national museum.43 However, as described by Karega-Munene, both museums remained colonial in their focus on pasts that were not directly related to the needs of local African populations because they were engaged in the presentation of “pre-history” or the history of non-Africans.44 Indeed, local populations were not to be served by “scientific” national museums but were to have their heritage managed in smaller “cultural museums” (otherwise known as “village,” “provincial,” or “tribal” museums) which suffered from lack of financial support or interest from the national museums.45 In the 21st century, NNM and Fort Jesus are just two of twenty-two museums and nine heritage sites that are managed by NMK. (Non-national, civil society museums are discussed at the end of this article).

Similarly, what is the 21st-century National Museum of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam also began life as a memorial-museum: in this case the King George V Memorial Museum in 1941.46 Little has been published on the early life of the museum, but we know it had two main galleries: one for ethnographic displays and the second mainly for the archaeology and history of the coast, and its structure and collections grew significantly following Tanzania’s attainment of independence in 1961.47 For example, around the time of independence the new government recognized that the “pseudo-Arabic style” of the King George V Memorial Museum was not right for “the emerging country” and so added a new and much bigger building deliberately designed in contrast to what was to become the King George V Memorial Wing.48 Today the National Museums of Tanzania are responsible for five sites: Dar es Salaam National Museum, the Village Museum (opened 1996), the National Natural History Museum (opened 1987), the Arusha Declaration Museum (opened 1977), and the Nyerere Museum (opened in 1999).

Likewise, little has been published about early museums in Rwanda and Burundi. What is now Burundi’s National Museum was founded in Gitega in 1955 to house a colonial collection of ethnographic objects. Subsequently, fifteen years after the attainment of independence, the Musée Vivant was established in the capital Bujumbura in 1977 with the intention of presenting Burundi’s history. Today the National Museum in Gitega still exists as a small museum based on the original ethnographic collection, while the Musée Vivant operates as a zoo with a small historic photographic display.

A notable exception to the above colonial to national narrative is Rwanda’s national museum, which was not originally a colonial museum but was instead founded separately in 1989 as a gift from the government of Belgium—the former colonial rulers of Rwanda. The museum displays a large ethnographic collection and a few archaeological remains, some of which were donated by the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren Museum, Belgium. It was originally designated as the National Museum of Rwanda, but following the civil war (1990 to 1994) and genocide (1994), it was renamed the Ethnographic Museum and is now one of six museums managed by the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda. These museums include the Natural History Museum, Kigali (opened 2004); the National Art Gallery, Nyanza (opened 2006); the King’s Palace Museum, Nyanza (opened 2008); the Presidential Palace Museum, Kanombe (opened 2009); and the Museum of Environment, Karongi (opened 2015). Rwanda did have colonial museums, but they appear to have closed long before the national museum was created. For example, a small private museum was established at least as early as the mid-20th century at the Institute for Scientific Research in Central Africa (IRSAC) in Butare, southwestern Rwanda. This museum still exists but is closed to the public and is only accessible with special permission. The museum’s display, which according to the staff has remained the same since at least since the 1970s, presents perceived biological and cultural differences between Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa Rwandese populations, as well as other identity groups in the wider region. There are also thirty-four objects in the British Museum’s collection that were reportedly donated by the Rwanda General and Medical Museum in 1937. It is not clear, however, where this museum was located, when it was established or closed, or if it was the IRSAC museum.

As outlined above, the roots of each national museum in the EAC are subtly different. However, there are broad similarities. For example, all the national museums have a direct relationship with colonial rule and colonial collecting practices. The national museums of Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Burundi were all founded in the colonial era based on colonial collections, while the National Museum of Rwanda was funded by the government of the former colonial power and based on a donation of objects collected during the colonial era. As such, despite the post-independence establishment of new national museums and the structural expansion of existing museum buildings and collections, these museums continue to be challenged by colonial legacies and the need to become relevant postcolonial institutions. Of all the national museums in the EAC, the NMK’s National Nairobi Museum has received the most attention and the strongest critique of its post-independence agenda and the reported failure to present a national history.49 Karega-Munene suggests this is due to two reasons: its foundation as a colonial natural history museum and the post-independence historical amnesia promoted by the first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta (which was intended to promote unity by forgetting past division and conflict).50 Furthermore, Europeans continued to dominate membership of the Board of Trustees even after independence and funding was limited, which created few opportunities to break with established colonial interests in natural history, archaeology, and paleontology to consider nationhood.51 From 2005 to 2007, the National Nairobi Museum was substantially overhauled through an €8-million European Union-funded Museum in Change program, which among other things led to the creation of its first permanent history exhibition.52 However, the exhibition’s historical content continues to receive criticism because it presents an oversimplified narrative that over-emphasizes national unity at the cost of historical fact.53 Although the details of this example are unique to NMK, problems concerning the persistence of colonial architectures, collections, exhibitions, and/or governances—set in a context where sufficient funding for change is limited or sporadic—present shared challenges to the decolonization and nationalization of museums in the region.

Legislation and Policy

After the establishment of the first colonial museums, which preserved and presented collected natural and cultural heritage objects, colonial authorities began to introduce heritage legislation to manage cultural heritage sites and monuments in situ, and in some cases they began to legislate for the protection of moveable cultural heritage objects. In 1927 the British colonial administration introduced the Ancient Monuments Preservation Ordinance in Kenya with the aim of protecting archaeological sites.54 The legislation was copied from India’s Ancient Monuments Preservation Act of 1904, and its introduction in Kenya reflected the spread of colonial thinking regarding the importance of the remains of ancient civilizations.55 The aim in Kenya, for example, was to protect colonial historical sites or those that were perceived by Europeans to be related to much earlier non-African civilizations, which were unrelated to communities living in Kenya at the time when the Act was introduced.56

In Tanganyika (the name for mainland Tanzania during the colonial period), the Preservation of Archaeological Objects Ordinance was introduced in 1929; while in Kenya and Uganda, respectively, the Preservation of Objects of Archaeological and Paleontological Interest Ordinance and the Ordinance to Provide for the Preservation of Objects of Archaeological and Paleontological Interest were introduced in 1934. Although ostensibly about moveable objects, these pieces of legislation served to prevent non-sanctioned archaeological research projects in the region.57 As argued by Basu and Damodaran, these ordinances restricted the archaeological expeditionary activities of non-British research projects and thus also curtailed the imperial ambitions of other countries.58 Elsewhere, in colonial Ruanda-Urundi, the Belgian Decree on the Protection of Sites, Monuments, and Indigenous Arts was introduced in 1939.

After independence, colonial ordinance was adopted as national legislation, which led to the persistence of colonial heritage priorities. Furthermore, when legislation was replaced, it continued to focus on the protection of tangible archaeological and architectural sites as had earlier colonial laws. For example, in Uganda five years after independence in 1967, colonial ordinance was eventually replaced with the Historical Monuments Act, which remains the underlying heritage legislation in the country today. This act included a wider range of objects than colonial laws had considered. However, the aim of the act “to provide for the preservation and protection of historical monuments and objects of archaeological, palaeontological, ethnographical and traditional interest” demonstrates a continuation of colonial concerns with tangible heritage.59 Similarly, despite two amendments in 1979 and 1985, Tanzania’s current “legislation for the management, protection, and preservation of the moveable and immovable tangible cultural heritage resources” is the Antiquities Act of 1964, which was created out of the original colonial ordinance.60 In addition, despite a review in Burundi in 1983, the 1939 colonial Decree on the Protection of Sites, Monuments, and Indigenous Arts persists in Rwanda and Burundi up to the 21st century.

In Kenya, as the country moved toward independence, colonial ordinances were written into the country’s new laws in 1962.61 However, again, despite some amendments, the new national acts were largely the same as the colonial ordinance and were not substantially replaced until twenty years after independence by the Antiquities and Monuments Act and separate National Museums Act, which in turn have since been superseded by the single National Museums and Heritage Act in 2006 (revised in 2012).62 One significant addition to the 2006 act is the promotion of “cultural resources in the context of social and economic development,” as the perceived values of heritage protection are made more specific (see further discussion in relation to heritage policies in the following paragraph).63 Nevertheless, although the recent Kenyan acts are more distinct from the colonial ordinance, they also focus solely on tangible moveable and immovable heritage, such as archaeological sites, monuments, museums, and antiquities.

In recent years, governments in the region have supported the development of more inclusive and less colonial cultural heritage policies. Although these policies do not have the same weight as legislation—and are thus aspirational rather than set down in law—they reflect current thinking within national heritage sectors and drive current practice in national museums, which are charged with managing national heritage across the respective countries. In most cases these policies represent a distinct departure from previous legislation through their promotion of intangible heritage as being of equal concern as tangible heritage and their aim to use heritage for national development. In 2009 the Kenyan government introduced the National Policy on Culture and Heritage, which includes provisions for performing arts, games and recreation, language, and literature as heritage. Similarly, in 2015 the Ugandan government introduced the National Museums and Monuments Policy, and in the same year Rwanda published their National Cultural Heritage Policy.64 All express concern for intangible heritage resources as being equal to tangible ones. These changes also came about partly in response to wider international promotion of the concepts of intangible and indigenous heritage.

Taking Rwanda’s 2015 National Cultural Heritage Policy as an example, its inclusivity and intentionality is pronounced when compared to earlier colonially influenced heritage legislation. In terms of inclusivity, the policy gives equal weight to intangible and tangible cultural and natural resources in its opening definition of heritage:

The elements of the physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a society that are passed from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. Cultural heritage includes tangible culture elements such as buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, and artifacts; intangible culture such as practices, representations, expressions, folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge, and natural heritage including culturally significant landscapes, and biodiversity.65

Furthermore, the policy explicitly refers to the need to preserve “negative” or “difficult” intangible heritage through its call to protect “Genocide Memory”:

Genocide memory has been added on the list of Rwandan cultural heritage because of the unfortunate recent history that resulting from the bad leadership that Rwanda experienced since independence that planted genocide ideology that culminated into the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. Therefore, genocide ideology took root in the Rwandan society and became part of our dark history. Fighting this ideology should be a focus of every Rwandan but the responsibility of putting in place a framework of how it should be done rests with institutions with culture in their attributes. Preservation of genocide memory is part of the fight against the genocide ideology that helps us understand what happened and what needs to be done prevent it from ever happening again in our country and the world over.66

Although genocide memory, as an aspect of intangible heritage in post-genocide Rwanda, must be understood as part of a state-led plan to manage and maintain the official authorized narrative of what caused and took place during the 1994 genocide, it is nonetheless a radical departure from more typical tangible heritage policies. Furthermore, it not only reflects greater inclusivity but also explicit awareness of the potential applications of heritage, as also seen in its Mission of the Culture Heritage Policy:

The mission of the culture policy is to provide an appropriate framework for preservation and protection of Rwandan culture in order to provide a foundation upon which country’s sustainable development is anchored . . . Policy Goals . . . To provide a framework for nurturing, preserving and protecting Rwandan culture and use it as an effective mechanism for realization of the country’s development goals; . . . To strategically position culture as a tool for enhancing good governance and social cohesion among Rwandans; . . . To enable culture to shape our attitudes and mindset in order to realize our planned development goals across all sectors of the nation’s life; . . . To unleash business potential and opportunities embedded in the Rwandan cultural heritage will contribute to the development goals.67

Development and the way in which cultural heritage may be activated to achieve social, political, and economic aims is thus at the core of this policy. Indeed, of the four policy goals expressed here, only one refers to preservation of cultural heritage.


The shift to more inclusive national heritage policies has occurred alongside the internationalization of heritage in the region and particularly the emergence and adoption of UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). UNESCO created the ICH list partly in response to criticism of its previous privileging of tangible heritage, exemplified by its list of World Heritage Sites (WHS).68 By choosing to celebrate monumental architectural and archaeological sites, the WHS list overemphasized the global cultural importance of countries with those heritage resources concentrated in Europe and Asia, compared with other regions where they are less common (or at least less well known)—for example in much of Africa and Australia. Consequently, calls were made to also recognize the global importance of activities that had less tangible and fixed manifestations as ICH, such as songs, music, poetry, dance, food, and so on. The introduction and spread of both these concepts of culture as a global inheritance represent an important and distinct heritage development in the EAC region. Although the colonial introduction of a formal Western understanding of heritage is an early example of the internationalization of heritage, at the administrative level these institutions and legislations remained ostensibly in the ownership of the separate colonies, protectorates, or mandate territories—and later each independent nation. By contrast, UNESCO’s world heritage added a new level of international administration and the appearance of global ownership to examples of tangible and intangible heritage in each country.

UNESCO’s 1972 World Heritage Convention, which effectively brought the WHS list into being, has been ratified by all EAC countries, Tanzania (1977), Burundi (1982), Uganda (1987), Kenya (1991), and Rwanda (2000). Inscription on the list is based on either natural heritage values, cultural heritage values, or a combination of both (as “mixed”). In 1979, Tanzania’s Ngorororo Crater became the first site in the region to be inscribed on the list. It was selected for its natural and cultural heritage values, which is notable in a region where natural heritage has typically been promoted above, or in place of, cultural heritage. For example, few other game reserves in the region have had their cultural values recognized on the list. Despite a focus on natural heritage, three countries have successfully nominated cultural sites. In Tanzania WHS include Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara (inscribed 1981), Stone Town of Zanzibar (inscribed 2000), and Kondoa Rock Art Sites (inscribed 2006). In Uganda, there are the Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (inscribed 2001). In Kenya, there is Lamu Old Town (inscribed 2001), Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests (inscribed 2008), and Fort Jesus, Mombasa (inscribed 2011). In addition, there are many more sites that have been nominated but are yet to be accepted by UNESCO and currently languish on the “tentative” list. It is yet to be seen if EAC countries will have better fortune with the outcome of UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (now known as the Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention, ICHC), which has also been ratified by all five countries: Burundi (2006), Kenya (2007), Uganda (2009), Tanzania (2011), and Rwanda (2013). Indeed, so far only two EAC examples have been inscribed on the ICH list: Barkcloth Making in Uganda (2008) and the Ritual Dance of the Royal Drum (Burundi, 2014). However, the lack of inscription on both lists must also be understood in the context of available resources for producing successful applications and the geopolitics of inscription more generally, which must be agreed upon by an international panel of experts.

Researching the Use of the Past

Academic research concerned with the historical and archaeological reconstruction of the past existed in the region from the early 20th century.69 However, concerted research into cultural heritage institutions and structures, such as museums and monuments, antiquities laws, and the more general and common use of the past in the present did not begin until the later 20th century.

Heritage Management

In terms of cultural heritage management research, early examples focused on tangible heritage and include publications concerned with museums, architecture, and archaeological sites. For example, a few notable early museum studies from the region exist, such as Margaret Trowell’s (1956) The Uganda Museum, Museum International’s (1963) African museum special edition, which included summaries of the newly nationalized museums of Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya, as well as Jean Brown’s (1967) The Story Behind the Kenya National Museum.70 These early works were produced alongside national museum publications, such as the Uganda Journal (1934–) and Kenya Past and Present (1971 to 2009), which published on a range of topics including museums, archaeological sites, and cultural traditions. Regarding early interest in architectural heritage, in the 1970s and 1980s a small number of research publications explored built heritage, including the stone houses at Lamu, Kenya, and the National Museum of Tanzania.71

Increasing concern for the protection of archaeological sites and materials in Kenya and Tanzania in the 1990s also led to the first sustained discussions of archaeological heritage management in the region.72 Since that time, heritage studies in the EAC have been dominated by discussions of heritage management with a focus on UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara, the Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi, and the Stone Town of Zanzibar.73 In addition, concern for the management of more ephemeral archaeological sites in Rwanda has been expressed.74 And the region has witnessed an emergence in interest in the protection of underwater archaeological sites as a form of cultural heritage.75

Recently researchers have also turned their attention to intangible heritage management. This research area has developed alongside UNESCO’s introduction of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the inclusion of intangible heritage in national policies (see earlier discussion of the internationalization of heritage, in the section “Colonization, Nationalization, and Internationalization of Heritage: Internationalization”). Examples of research in this area include the management of contested meanings at Shimoni caves (Kenya), the intangible heritage of male circumcision, and traditional dancing at Bomas,76 and in Uganda, there is the need to manage oral traditions to prevent HIV/AIDS infections, and in Tanzania there is the intangible heritage of particular cultural groups, such as the Ngoni.77


Early research into the use of the past in the present, which is distinct from the study of the conservation management of heritage resources, includes research around “the invention of tradition,” which attracted academic historical interest from the mid-20th century onward.78 For the purposes of this article, “tradition” can be considered a form of shorthand for heritage because traditions, like heritage, are selective reconstructions of the past in the present that serve political, social, or economic ends. This includes a wide variety of studies, ranging from the way the past was recalled to manage land rights, to the way tradition was perceived to be an obstacle to economic and political development.79 A seminal publication in this area is Terence Ranger’s “The Invention of Tradition in Colonial Africa,” which is a chapter in Hobsbawn and Ranger’s edited volume The Invention of Tradition.80 With reference to Kenya and Uganda, among other countries, it described how supposedly indigenous African traditions of ethnicity, customary law, and “traditional” religion were systematically invented under colonial rule. Another prominent example is Edward Bruner and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s Maasai on the Lawn: Tourist Realism in East Africa.81 This work explored the way in which a supposedly historically authentic performance of timeless Maasai traditions was being constructed out of international tourist expectations and sold back to tourists on the lawn at Mayer’s Ranch near Nairobi.

Archaeological Introspection

In the later 20th century, archaeology became one of the first academic disciplines to invest concerted effort in researching the use of the past in the region. This typically involved disciplinary self-reflection that concerned the use of archaeological materials and knowledge in the contemporary world, for example, in nation building and the contemporary context of archaeological knowledge construction more generally (including the interpretative biases that informed archaeological explanations). This self-reflective turn was a part of wider processes taking place in the discipline, especially in Europe and the United States, including the emergence of post-processual archaeology and its concerns with the political context and biases of contemporary knowledge construction.82 However, the popularity of the post-processual approach in eastern Africa must also be understood in relation to the changing political landscape there. In summary, under colonial rule, most archaeological research in the region (as in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa) was either concerned with great civilizations believed to have ancient non-African roots or with early humans that had little apparent relevance for the history of living African peoples.83 These colonial archaeologies served a variety of ideological purposes.84 Some of these included providing precedents for earlier external civilizing influences and the notion that the sub-Saharan past was only of interest in terms of biological evolution and not history, both of which appeared to provide a justification for supposedly civilizing colonial rule. With the attainment of independence, however, archaeologists began to look toward the more recent past and the archaeological histories of living populations to produce narratives more relevant to the construction of a sense of nation.85 In so doing, archaeologists also reflected on the political use of the past that they were investigating and constructing.86 Since the turn of the 21st century, this has led to the development of postcolonial archaeologies that explicitly challenge persistent colonial biases and calls for more community involvement in archaeology in the region.87 Within the growing body of postcolonial community archaeologies have been calls for “indigenous epistemologies” and “useable pasts.”88 Indigenous epistemologies, it has been argued, are needed to provide more suitable African frameworks for exploring and explaining the past in contrast to Western scientific ones.89 By contrast, the “useable pasts” approach seeks to investigate the past for contemporary purposes that go beyond the archaeological reconstruction of history. Examples in this area include using archaeological knowledge about historic agricultural systems to inform sustainable agriculture.90 Another example is the creation of non-ethnically and non-racially defined archaeological narratives to support the teaching of history in post-genocide Rwanda.91

Critical Heritage Studies

The most significant recent shift in heritage studies, however, is the emergence of what has been termed critical heritage studies (CHS). In contrast to research concerned with the management of cultural heritage, which focuses on the preservation and presentation of heritage resources—or disciplinary reflections such as occurred in archaeology—CHS questions the construction and reconstruction of heritage itself, including but not confined to formal heritage management and archaeology.92 In this way, it is more comparable to earlier studies of the invention of tradition. CHS emerged out of “heritage debates” that took place in countries such as the United Kingdom and United States in the 1980s and 1990s, when the economic, political, and social basis and biases of national and grassroots heritage agendas began to be identified and deconstructed.93 CHS has since encouraged a reflexive critique of the language and practice of heritage laws, policies, management, and presentation as a form of political discourse. In the EAC region, as elsewhere in the world, this has led researchers to explore how authorized and alternative constructions of heritage reflect and are driven by wider social, political, and economic processes and how in turn they also reproduce or challenge those influences as a form of cultural production. Returning to the parameters outlined in the introduction, a key area of interest in the region is the attention on examples of “difficult heritage” and their relationship to the contemporary construction of national identity and memory. This is a significant departure from colonial constructions that persisted after independence and focused on “pre-historic” or supposedly non-African antiquities, sites, and monuments. Two prominent examples are national genocide centers in Rwanda and Community Peace Museums in Kenya.

Following the end of the 1994 genocide, the Rwandan government created hundreds of mass-grave memorials across the country.94 Seven of these have since become national memorial centers that are open to visitors, including Kigali, Murambi, Gisozi, Nyarubuye, Ntarama, Nyamata, and Bisesero. The Kigali Memorial Centre, which opened in 2004, was developed by the UK-based Aegis Trust and the Rwandan government as a repository for those killed in and around the capital and as a memorial-museum that communicates an official narrative of the causes and events of the genocide. By contrast, the other centers have been constructed on the sites of genocide massacres and have been visited as memorials by international and local visitors since the end of the genocide. The six massacre memorials were first managed by the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda (INMR), and latterly through the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG), with significant input from genocide survivor groups. All of the massacre memorials display large and powerful exhibits of human remains, but only Murambi has a museum exhibition.

Although not necessarily framed as CHS, a growing body of research has considered the sociopolitical functioning of the memorials, including contradictions in their stated aims and their perceived or actual observed impacts, as well as their location within a larger international context of heritage and post-conflict development. The critique of this “difficult” heritage has focused on the display and treatment of human remains at the massacre memorials and on communicating an official historical narrative through the exhibitions at Kigali and Murambi. In both cases, it has been suggested, the government have sought to silence public debate about the genocide and to provide legitimating evidence for their rule. Regarding the massacre memorials, it is alleged that the mass display of human remains as physical evidence creates a “crisis of comprehension,” which shuts down further engagement with the events of the genocide and promotes acceptance of the current political situation.95

Regarding the interpretative materials in the exhibitions, these communicate the official narrative that sets out a series of key groups of actors and their varying statuses with regard to blame, victimhood, and heroism. In this construction, blame is attributed to European colonialism that created ethno-racial divisions in the country, Hutu extremists that perpetrated the genocide and the French Army that protected the perpetrators. On the other side of this blame narrative are the Tutsi victims, Tutsi survivors, and the heroic Rwandan Patriotic Front that stopped the genocide and now rules the country. Like the mass display of human remains, it is suggested, the simplification of the genocide into these key actor groups (e.g., perpetrators, colluders, victims, survivors, and heroes) also shuts down critical reflection and provides the explanatory basis for the continuation of RPF rule. Thus, instead of their stated aims as places of mourning and for gaining a greater understanding of the genocide through critical analysis, the memorials, it is alleged, prevent understanding and closure for survivors and perpetrators alike.96

Rwanda’s genocide memorials have also been contextualized within a wider international framework of post-conflict responses to heritage. For example, the collection of human remains and their mass public display in typological arrangements of skulls and long bones have been compared to silencing practices in Cambodia, Uganda, and Ethiopia. Following the end of the 1970s genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge, two national memorials with typological displays of human remains were created in Cambodia.97 In Uganda, following the end of the 1980s civil war and genocide (in which many of the RPF fought), human remains were collected and ordered by the side of the road before they were placed in thirty-three mass grave memorials.98 It has also been suggested that the display strategies at the Rwandan massacre memorials informed similar displays of human remains at the Red Terror Martyrs Memorial Museum in Ethiopia, which opened in 2010 to memorialize the hundreds of thousands who were killed by the Derg in the 1970s and 1980s.99 Thus, it has been suggested that the RPF drew on these extant strategies for similar ends. In addition, the influence of international nongovernmental organizations such as the Aegis Trust and donors—including the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, and Germany—and resulting conflicts with competing national and international agendas have also been discussed.100 Finally, the memorials have also been located within an increasingly standardized post-conflict development practice, or complex, where the problematic past is engaged with and reconstructed in the present as part of a healing process, as also witnessed in Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, Poland, and Germany.101

The turn to heritage following conflict in the region is not confined to the presentation of the remains of conflict but also includes the promotion of cultural traditions as heritage that are believed to promote peace and the creation of sustainable societies. In Kenya, for example, since the mid-1990s, Community Peace Museums (CPMs) have been established to preserve and present tangible and intangible cultural heritages to tackle a variety of different conflicts. At their height, twenty-three CPMs were in operation, and by 2015 there were sixteen remaining.102 The establishment and role of the CPMs in relation to national identity and memory in Kenya have been explored by Annie Coombes, Lotte Hughes, and Karega-Munene.103

The first CPMs were created by Dr. Sultan Somjee, a curator at NMK, in response to preelection ethnic conflict and a period of violent cattle raiding. Somjee was undertaking ethnographic collecting among pastoral groups at the time and was also influenced by a USAID program to promote peacemaking and peace building in the region and by a Mennonite peace project.104 As Karega-Munene explains, “The focus of the CPMs was on indigenous peace-building and peace-making traditions using material culture, peace trees and other plants and animal products.”105 Although the CPM project was founded by an NMK curator, and some CPMs retain links with NMK through voluntary management by people who were once Somjee’s research assistants, they are essentially local community sites for local community members and are not for tourists or other visitors. As described by Coombes, the CPMs are more like community centers than museums; however, the use of “museum” is important for the curators because it highlights that history and material culture underpin their activities and it provides status as it connects the CPMs to national institutions such as NMK.106

The CPMs, Coombes suggests, need to be understood “as representing attempts to create an alternative vision and model of society—a different space (if you will) to that offered by the constituencies produced through a spate of disastrous political campaigns since 1992.”107 Indeed, while Somjee was responding to specific cases of conflict he personally experienced, the CPMs have since tackled many more examples: from the violence of colonialism and the divisions created during the struggle for independence to other incidents associated with elections such as the 2007–2008 post-election violence. This is in direct contrast to nationally sanctioned heritage spaces that have typically shied away from engaging with these historical events or have produced selective grand narratives that avoid the messiness of colonial and postcolonial political violence.108

In summary, like many CHS analyses, Coombes, Hughes, and Karega-Munene’s work makes use of the contrast between bottom-up, grassroots, alternative approaches to heritage and top-down, official, authorized ones to reveal wider sociocultural workings and needs.109 For example, set within the national context, Coombes and Hughes found that although following the unbanning of Mau Mau in 2003, and the post-election violence of 2007–2008, the government were officially promoting heritage for unification110, the community-led initiatives that they witnessed highlighted the need for active reconciliation before unification could be possible. Furthermore, they found that the contemporary community-led initiatives were not just a product of events and processes taking place in Kenya, such as the ongoing democratization and decolonization of society, but were also “‘citizens’ engagement with globalised discourses and activism on issues including environmental protection, indigenous peoples’ rights, and the ‘preservation’ of cultural tradition in the face of perceived threats from modernity.”111

With the emergence of CHS, there is now an opportunity in the region not only reconstruct the past through history and archaeology, and to manage those resources through museums, heritage sites, and conservation, but to question why a host of different people and organizations reconstruct the past in the present and what effects these actions have in terms of cultural production.

Heritage as Political Practice

This article has identified heritage as a common political practice within the EAC whose deep roots begin long before the arrival of formalized Western notions of heritage based on museums, memorials, monuments, legislations, and policies. It has then outlined the colonization, nationalization, and internationalization of cultural heritage in the region through museums, legislation, and policies. Finally, the article introduced some early academic heritage studies before concluding with two recent examples of what may be termed Critical Heritage Studies as a more engaged debate about the use of the past in the present in the region is now emerging. The two case studies were chosen from a growing number of “difficult heritage” examples that are becoming an established part of heritage activities in the region. It has not been possible to include all cultural heritage examples here because the topic is too big for one article, but the examples presented provide a framework for approaching understanding heritage and the use of the past in the present in eastern Africa.

Further Reading

  • Coombes, Annie E., Lotte Hughes, and Karega-Munene. Managing Heritage, Making Peace: History, Identity and Memory in Contemporary Kenya. London, UK: I. B. Tauris, 2014.
  • Dicks, Bella. Heritage, Place and Community. Cardiff, UK: University of Wales Press, 2000.
  • Fouéré, Marie-Aude, and Lotte Hughes. “Heritage and Memory in East Africa Today: A Review of Recent Developments in Cultural Heritage Research and Memory Studies.” Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 50, no. 4 (2015): 542–558.
  • Harrison, Rodney. Heritage: Critical Approaches. Abington, UK: Routledge, 2013.
  • Harvey, David C. “The History of Heritage.” In The Ashgate Research Companion to Heritage and Identity. Edited by Brian J. Graham and Peter Howard, 19–36. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2008.
  • Peterson, Derek. “A History of the Heritage Economy in Yoweri Museveni’s Uganda.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 10, no. 4 (2016): 789–806.
  • Ranger, Terence. “The Invention of Tradition in Colonial Africa.” In The Invention of Tradition. Edited by Eric J. Hobsbawm and Terence O. Ranger, 211–262. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
  • Robertshaw, Peter. “The Development of Archaeology in East Africa.” In A History of African Archaeology. Edited by Peter Robertshaw, 78–94. London, UK: James Currey, 1990.
  • Schmidt, Peter R. African Historical Archaeology: Representation, Social Memory and Oral Traditions. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2006.
  • Smith, Laura-Jane. Uses of Heritage. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2006.
  • Spear, Tom. “Neo-Traditionalism and the Limits of Invention in British Colonial Africa.” Journal of African History 44 (2003): 1–26.
  • Vansina, Jan. Antecedents to Modern Rwanda: The Nyiginya Kingdom. London, UK: James Currey, 2004.
  • Winter, Tim. “Clarifying the Critical in Critical Heritage Studies.” International Journal of Heritage Studies 19, no. 6 (2013): 532–545.
  • Winter, Tim, and Emma Waterton. “Critical Heritage Studies.” International Journal of Heritage Studies 19, no. 6 (2013): 529–531.


  • 1. For a discussion of this divide in relation to Kenyan heritage legislation see Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development of Institutionalised Heritage Management in Kenya,” in Annie E. Coombes, Lotte Hughes, and Karega-Munene, Managing Heritage, Making Peace: History, Identity and Memory in Contemporary Kenya (London, UK: I. B. Tauris, 2013), 17–51.

  • 2. See Rodney Harrison, Heritage: Critical Approaches (Abington, UK: Routledge, 2013), 205–213.

  • 3. For example, see Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development,” 17–51.

  • 4. See, for example, Laurajane Smith, Uses of Heritage (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2006); David Harvey, “The History of Heritage,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to Heritage and Identity, ed. Brian Graham and Peter Howard (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2008), 19–36; and Rodney Harrison, Heritage: Critical Approaches (Abington, UK: Routledge, 2013).

  • 5. See John Tunbridge and Gregory Ashworth, Dissonant Heritage: The Management of the Past as a Resource in Conflict (Chichester, UK: John Wiley, 1996); Sharon Macdonald, Difficult Heritage: Negotiating the Nazi Past in Nuremburg and Beyond (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2009); Joy Sather-Wagstaff, Heritage that Hurts: Tourists in the Memoryscapes of September 11 (Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2011); William Logan and Keir Reeves, “Introduction: Remembering Places of Pain and Suffering,” in Places of Pain and Shame: Dealing with Difficult Heritage, ed. William Logan and Keir Reeves (New York, NY: Routledge, 2009), 1–14; and Rodney Harrison, ed., Understanding the Politics of Heritage (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2010).

  • 6. John Giblin, “Post-Conflict Heritage: Symbolic Healing and Cultural Renewal,” International Journal of Heritage Studies 20, no. 5 (2014): 500–518.

  • 7. Giblin, “Post-Conflict Heritage,” 500–518; and Kiprop Lagat, Remembering the 1998 Nairobi Terror Attack: Cultural and Trauma Memory and the Reconciliation of a Nation (PhD diss., University of East Anglia, 2014).

  • 8. Peter Schmidt, Historical Archaeology: A Structural Approach in an African Culture (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1978).

  • 9. Jan Vansina, Antecedents to Modern Rwanda: The Nyiginya Kingdom (London: James Currey, 2004), 5.

  • 10. See, for example, Smith, Uses of Heritage (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2006).

  • 11. Andrew Reid and Rachel MacLean, “Symbolism and the Social Contexts of Iron Production in Karagwe,” World Archaeology 27, no. 1 (1995): 144–161.

  • 12. Vansina, Antecedents to Modern, 6.

  • 13. Vansina, Antecedents to Modern, 6.

  • 14. Vansina, Antecedents to Modern, 90–95.

  • 15. Neil Kodesh, “Renovating Tradition: The Discourse of Succession in Colonial Buganda,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 34, no. 3 (2001): 511–541; and Holly Hanson, “Mapping Conflict: Heterarchy and Accountability in the Ancient Capital of Buganda,” Journal of African History 50, no. 2 (2009): 179–202.

  • 16. Benjamin Ray, “Sacred Space and Royal Shrines in Buganda,” History of Religions 16, no. 4 (1977): 363–373, 367.

  • 17. Ray, “Sacred Space,” 369–370.

  • 18. Peter Robertshaw and Ephraim Kamuhangire, “The Present in the Past: Archaeological Sites, Oral Traditions, Shrines and Politics in Uganda,” in Aspects of African Archaeology: Papers from the 10th Congress from the Pan-African Association for Prehistory and Related Studies (Harare, Zimbabwe: University of Zimbabwe Publications, 1996), 739–743.

  • 19. For an early critical dissection of these oral traditions see Randall Pouwels, “Oral Historiography and the Shirazi of the East African Coast,” History in Africa, 11 (1984), 237–267.

  • 20. Adria LaViolette, “Swahili Cosmopolitanism in Africa and the Indian Ocean World, AD 600–1500,” Archaeologies 4, no. 1 (2008): 24–49, 28.

  • 21. LaViolette, “Swahili Cosmopolitanism in Africa and the Indian Ocean World,” Archaeologies 4, no. 1 (2008): 24–49.

  • 22. LaViolette, “Swahili Cosmopolitanism in Africa and the Indian Ocean World,” Archaeologies 4, no. 1 (2008): 24–49.

  • 23. Kelly Askew, Performing the Nation: Swahili Music and Cultural Politics in Tanzania (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2002).

  • 24. Pauline Bernard, “The Politics of the Luweero Skulls: The Making of Memorial Heritage and Post-Revolutionary State Legitimacy Over the Luweero Mass Graves in Uganda,” Journal of Eastern African Studies 11, no. 1, (2017): 188–209; and Derek Peterson, “A History of the Heritage Economy in Yoweri Museveni’s Uganda,” Journal of Eastern African Studies 10, no. 4 (2017): 789–806.

  • 25. Ahmed Wetaka, “Museveni’s Speech to Newly Elected NRM MPs at Kyankwanzi,” Uganda Radio Network, March 16, 2016.

  • 26. Giblin, “Post-Conflict Heritage,” 500–518; Bernhard, “The Politics of the Luwero Skulls,” 188–209; and Peterson, “A History of the Heritage Economy,” 789–806.

  • 27. The New Vision, “Museveni Addresses Massive Rallies in Luwero,” November 9, 2015.

  • 28. Heike Behrend, Alice Lakwena and the Holy Spirits (Melton, UK: James Currey, 1999); Kevin Dunn, “Uganda: The Lord’s Resistance Army,” Review of African Political Economy 31, no. 99 (2004): 139–142; and Mark Leopold, Inside West Nile: Violence, History and Representation on an African Frontier (Melton, UK: James Currey, 2005).

  • 29. Kigali Memorial Centre, Jenocide (Kigali, Rwanda: Kigali Memorial Centre and Aegis Trust, 2004); and National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, The Rwandan Conflict: Origin, Development, Exit Strategies (Kigali, Rwanda: National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, 2006).

  • 30. Paul Kagame, “Speech by President Paul Kagame,” 20th Commemoration of the Genocide Against the Tutsii, April 7, 2014.

  • 31. Anna Obura, Never Again: Educational Reconstruction in Rwanda (Paris, France: International Institute of Educational Planning, 2003); Susanne Buckley-Zistel, “Nation, Narration, Unification? The Politics of History Teaching After the Rwandan Genocide,” Journal of Genocide Research 11, no. 1 (2009): 31–53; Sarah Freedman, Harvey Weinstein, Karen Murphy, and Timothy Longman, “Teaching History After Identity-Based Conflicts: The Rwanda Experience,” Comparative Education Review 52, no. 4 (2009): 663–690; and Sarah Freedman, Harvey Weinstein, and Timothy Longman, “Teaching History in Post-Genocide Rwanda,” in Remaking Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights after Mass Murder, ed. S. Scott Strauss and Lars Waldorf (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2011), 297–315.

  • 32. Tabitha Kanogo, Squatters and the Roots of Mau Mau, 1905–63 (Nairobi, Kenya: East African Publishers, 1987); John Lonsdale, “Mau Maus of the Mind: Making Mau Mau and Remaking Kenya,” Journal of African History 31, no. 3 (1990): 393–421; and Daniel Branch, “The Enemy Within: Loyalists and the War Against Mau Mau in Kenya,” Journal of African History 48, no. 2 (2007): 291–315.

  • 33. Lotte Hughes, “‘Truth Be Told’: Some Problems with Historical Revisionism in Kenya,” African Studies 70, no. 2 (2011): 182–201; Karega-Munene, Museums in Kenya: Spaces for Selecting, Ordering and Erasing Memories of Identity and Nationhood,” African Studies 70, no. 2 (2011): 224–245; Laragh Larsen, “Notions of Nation in Nairobi’s Nyayo-Era Monuments,” African Studies 70, no. 2 (2011): 264–283; and Kiprop Lagat, “Representations of Nationhood in the Displays of the National Museums of Kenya: NMK in Nairobi,” Critical Interventions 11, no. 1 (2017), 24–39.

  • 34. Jamhuri Magazine, “President Uhuru Kenyatta Speech at Kenya 50th Independence Day Celebration.”

  • 35. For a discussion of how the Tanzania state selectively controls the representation of the national independence struggle through reference to Julius Nyerere as the father of the nation at the expense of other actors, see Marie-Aude Fouéré, “Julius Nyerere, Ujamaa, and Political Morality in Contemporary Tanzania,” African Studies Review 57, no. 1 (2014): 1–24.

  • 36. Merrick Posnansky, “The Uganda Museum, Kampala: The Programme and the Organization,” Museum International 16, no. 3 (1963): 149–162.

  • 37. Posnansky, “The Uganda Museum, Kampala: The Programme and the Organization,” 149–162.

  • 38. Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development,” 17.

  • 39. R. H. Carcasson, “The Coryndon Museum, Nairobi, and the Role of Natural History Museums in Tropical Africa,” Museum International 16, no. 3 (1963): 182–187, 183; and Karega-Munene, “Museums in Kenya,” 226.

  • 40. Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development,” 18.

  • 41. Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development,” 20.

  • 42. Karega-Munene, “Museums in Kenya,” 226.

  • 43. Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development,” 29.

  • 44. Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development,” 29.

  • 45. Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development,” 29–30.

  • 46. Stanley West, “The National Museum of Tanganyika, Dar es Salaam,” Museum International 16, no. 3 (1963): 163–166.

  • 47. West, “The National Museum of Tanganyika, Dar es Salaam,” 163–166.

  • 48. West, “The National Museum of Tanganyika, Dar es Salaam,” 163–166.

  • 49. Karega-Munene, “Museums in Kenya,” 224–245; Hughes, “Truth Be Told,” 182–201; and Lagat, “Representations of Nationhood,” 24–39.

  • 50. Karega-Munene, “Museums in Kenya,” 232.

  • 51. Karega-Munene, “Museums in Kenya,” 233; and Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development,” 25–26.

  • 52. Hassan Arero, “Building the New Nairobi Museum: Perspectives on Post-Colonialism in an African National Museum Sector,” in Anthropologists, Indigenous Scholars and the Research Endeavour: Seeking Bridges Towards Mutual Respect, ed. Joy Hendry and Laara Fitznor (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2012), 157–161.

  • 53. Karega-Munene, “Museums in Kenya,” 224–245; Hughes, “Truth Be Told,” 182–201; and Lagat, “Representations of Nationhood,” 24–39.

  • 54. Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development,” 18; and Paul Basu and Vinita Damodaran,“ Colonial Histories of Heritage: Legislative Migrations and the Politics of Preservation. Past & Present 226, no. 10 (2015): 240–271.

  • 55. Basuand and Damodaran, “Colonial Histories of Heritage,” 240–271.

  • 56. Basuand and Damodaran, “Colonial Histories of Heritage,” 253.

  • 57. Basuand and Damodaran, “Colonial Histories of Heritage,” 254–255.

  • 58. Basuand and Damodaran, “Colonial Histories of Heritage,” 254–255.

  • 59. Republic of Uganda, The Historical Monuments Act, 1967.

  • 60. Audax Mabulla and John Bower, “Cultural Heritage Management in Tanzania’s Protected Areas: Challenge and Future Prospects,” CRM: The Journal of Heritage Stewardship 7, no. 1 (2010): 27–37, 32.

  • 61. Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development,” 25–26.

  • 62. Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development,” 31.

  • 63. Quoted in Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development,” 34.

  • 64. See also Republic of Rwanda, Policy on Cultural Heritage, 2008.

  • 65. Republic of Rwanda, National Culture Heritage Policy, 2015.

  • 66. Republic of Rwanda, National Culture Heritage Policy, 2015.

  • 67. Republic of Rwanda, National Culture Heritage Policy, 2015.

  • 68. Laurajane Smith and Natsuko Akagwa, “Introduction,” in Intangible Heritage, ed. Laurajane Smith and Natsuko Akagwa (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2009), 1–10.

  • 69. Peter Robertshaw, “The Development of Archaeology in East Africa,” in A History of African Archaeology, ed. Peter Robertshaw (London, UK: James Currey, 1990), 78–94.

  • 70. Margaret Trowell, The Uganda Museum (Kampala, Uganda: Makerere University, 1956); and Jean Brown, “Natural History in a Cage: The Story Behind the Kenya National Museum,” East Africa Journal 4 (1967): 21–28.

  • 71. Usam Ghaidan, African Heritage: The Stone Houses of Lamu (Lamu, Tanzania: Lamu Museum, 1971); A. A. Mturi, “Protection, Preservation and Development of Tanzania’s Heritage: A Decade of Progress 1961–1971,” Tanzania Notes and Records 76 (1975): 93–101; and Fidelis Masao, “Museum Architecture in the United Republic of Tanzania: Living with a Mixed Legacy,” Museum International 41, no. 4 (1989): 204–209.

  • 72. UNESCO, Proceedings of the Seminar on Conservation of Historic Towns and Monuments Along the Coast of Kenya, Mozambique, Somalia and Tanzania. (1985); Imogene Lim, “Rock Art as a Cultural Heritage: Strategies for Administration,” IRAC Proceedings, Volume 2, Images Past, Images Present. American Rock Art Research Association, 2 (1993): 11–20; A. A. Mturi, “Whose Cultural Heritage? Conflicts and Contradictions in the Conservation of Historic Structures, Towns, and Rock Art in Tanzania,” in Plundering Africa’s Past, ed. Peter Schmidt and Roderick McIntosh (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996), 170–190; Nganyirwa Karoma, “The Deterioration and Destruction of Archaeological and Historical Sites in Tanzania,” in Schmidt and McIntosh, Plundering Africa’s Past, 191–200; Chapurukha Kusimba, “Kenya’s Destruction of the Swahili Cultural Heritage,” in Schmidt and McIntosh, Plundering Africa’s Past, 201–224; Thomas Wilson and Athman Lali Omar, “Preservation of Cultural Heritage on the East African Coast,” in Schmidt and McIntosh, Plundering Africa’s Past, 225–249; Audax Mabulla, “Tanzania’s Endangered Heritage: A Call for a Protection Program,” African Archaeological Review 13, no. 3 (1996): 197–214; Audax Mabulla, “Strategy for Cultural Heritage Management (CHM) in Africa: A Case Study,” African Archaeological Review 17, no. 4 (2000): 211–233; and George Abungu and Lorna Abungu, “Saving the Past in Kenya: Urban and Monument Conservation,” African Archaeological Review 15, no. 4 (1998): 221–224.

  • 73. Stephanie Wynne-Jones and Jeffery Fleisher, “Conservation, Community Archaeology, and Archaeological Mediation at Songo Mnara, Tanzania,” Journal of Field Archaeology 40, no. 1 (2015): 110–119; Remigius Kigongo and Andrew Reid, “Local Communities, Politics and the Management of the Kasubi Tombs, Uganda,” World Archaeology 39, no. 3 (2007): 371–384; and Khalfan Amour Khalfan and Nobuyuki Ogura, “Sustainable Architectural Conservation According to Traditions of Islamic Waqf: The World Heritage–Listed Stone Town of Zanzibar,” International Journal of Heritage Studies 18, no. 6 (2012): 588–604.

  • 74. John Giblin, Jane Humphris, Maurice Mugabowagahunde, and Andre Ntagwabira, “Challenges for Pre-Colonial Archaeological Site Management in Rwanda,” Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites 13, nos. 2–3 (2011): 174–188; and John Giblin, Maurice Mugabowagahunde, and Andre Ntagwabira, “The Archaeological Impact of International Heritage Tourism in Rwanda: Paving Over the Past at the Musanze Caves,” Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites 19, no. 2, (2017): 126–140.

  • 75. Paul Lane, “New International Frameworks for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage in the Western Indian Ocean,” Azania: Journal of the British Institute in Eastern Africa 42, no. 1, (2007): 115–135; and Paul Lane, “Maritime and Shipwreck Archaeology in the Western Indian Ocean and Southern Red Sea: An Overview of Past and Current Research,” Journal of Maritime Archaeology 7, no. 1 (2012): 9–41.

  • 76. O. B. Egesah, M. Wanyamaand, and V. Muange, “The Relevance of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Modern Times: Evidence From Babukusu Male Circumcision,” Sociology and Anthropology 2, no. 7 (2014): 273–283; Herman Kiriama, “Shimoni Caves Contested Meaning,” Historic Environment 22, no. 3 (2009): 38–41; and Susanne Franco, “Reenacting Heritage at Bomas of Kenya: Dancing the Postcolony,” Dance Research Journal 47, no. 2 (2015): 3–22.

  • 77. Pamela Khanakwa, “Uganda: Cultural Implications of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic and the Need to Preserve Our Oral Traditions,” Heritage at Risk 17 (2015): 200–201; and Gastor Mapunda, “An Analysis of the Vitality of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ngoni People of Tanzania: Lessons for other Ethnolinguistic Groups,” Nordic Journal of African Studies 24, no. 2 (2015): 169–185.

  • 78. See Terence Ranger, “The Invention of Tradition in Colonial Africa,” in The Invention of Tradition, ed. Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 211–262.

  • 79. David Apter, “The Role of Traditionalism in the Political Modernization of Ghana and Uganda,” World Politics 13, no. 1 (1960): 45–68; James Obol-Ochola, “Ideology and Tradition in African Land Tenure,” East Africa Journal 6, no. 5 (1969): 35–41; Henry Mapolu, “Tradition and the Quest for Socialism,” Taamuli: A Political Science Forum 4, no. 1 (1973): 3–15; and Jack Glazier, Land and the Uses of Tradition Among the Mbeere of Kenya (Maryland: University Press of America, 1985).

  • 80. Ranger, “The Invention of Tradition,” 211–262; and Hobsbawm and Ranger, The Invention of Tradition.

  • 81. Edward Bruner and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, “Maasai on the Lawn: Tourist Realism in East Africa,” Cultural Anthropology 9, no. 4 (1994): 435–470; see also Edward Bruner, “The Maasai and the Lion King: Authenticity, Nationalism, and Globalization in African Tourism,” American Ethnologist 28, no. 4 (2001): 881–908.

  • 82. Bruce Trigger, A History of Archaeological Thought (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

  • 83. Trigger, A History of Archaeological Thought; Bruce Trigger, “The History of African Archaeology in World Perspective,” in Robertshaw, A History, 309–319; Robertshaw, The Development of Archaeology; Nick Shepherd, “The Politics of Archaeology in Africa,” Annual Review of Anthropology 31, no. 1 (2002): 189–209; and John Giblin, “Politics, Ideology and Indigenous Perspectives,” in The Oxford Handbook of African Archaeology, ed. Peter Mitchell and Paul Lane (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2013), 253–265.

  • 84. Bruce Trigger, “Alternative Archaeologies: Nationalist, Colonialist, Imperialist,” Man 1 (1984): 355–370.

  • 85. Robertshaw, The Development of Archaeology.

  • 86. For example, see Peter Robertshaw, “Knowledge and Power,” African Archaeological Review 13 (1996): 7–9.

  • 87. Chapurukha Kusimba, “Practicing Postcolonial Archaeology in Eastern Africa from the United States,” in Postcolonial Archaeologies in Africa, ed. Peter Schmidt (Santa Fe, NM: School for Advanced Research Press, 2009), 57–76; Karega-Munene, “Toward Recognition of the Right to a Cultural Past in the Twenty-First Century: An Example from East Africa,” in Schmidt, Postcolonial Archaeologies, 77–94; George Abungu, “Walking the Long Path to Partnership; Archaeology and Communities in Eastern Africa—Relevance, Access, and Ownership,” in Community Archaeology and Heritage in Africa: Decolonising Practice, ed. Peter Schmidt and Innocent Pikirayi (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2016), 46–69; and Patrick Abungu, “Heritage, Memories, and Community Development: The Case of Shimoni Slave Caves Heritage Site, Kenya,” in Schmidt and Pikirayi, Community Archaeology and Heritage in Africa, 91–112.

  • 88. Paul Lane, “Possibilities for a Postcolonial Archaeology in Sub-Saharan Africa: Indigenous and Usable Pasts. World Archaeology 43, no. 1 (2011): 7–25.

  • 89. See Peter Schmidt, African Historical Archaeology: Representation, Social Memory and Oral Traditions (Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2006); for a counter-argument see Lane, “Possibilities for a Postcolonial Archaeology in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

  • 90. Daryl Stump, “Towards an Applied Archaeology of East African Intensive Agricultural Systems” (PhD diss., Institute of Archaeology, University College London, UK, 2006); Daryl Stump, “Ancient and Backward or Long-Lived and Sustainable: The Role of the Past in Developmental Debates in Eastern Africa,” World Development 38 (2010): 1251–1262; and Mathew Davies, “Some Thoughts on a “Useable” African Archaeology: Settlement, Population and Intensive Farming Among the Pokot of Northwest Kenya,” African Archaeological Review 29, no. 4 (2012): 319–353.

  • 91. John Giblin, “A Reconsideration of Rwandan Archaeological Ceramics and Their Political Significance in a Post-Genocide Era,” African Archaeological Review 30, no. 4 (2013): 501–529.

  • 92. Smith, Uses of Heritage; Laurajane Smith, “Editorial,” International Journal of Heritage Studies 18 (2012): 533–540; Tim Winter, “Clarifying the Critical in Critical Heritage Studies,” International Journal of Heritage Studies 19, no. 6 (2013): 532–545; Tim Winter and Emma Waterton, “Critical Heritage Studies,” International Journal of Heritage Studies 19, no. 6 (2013): 529–531; and Emma Waterton and Steve Watson, “Framing Theory: Towards a Critical Imagination in Heritage Studies,” International Journal of Heritage Studies 19, no. 6 (2013): 546–561.

  • 93. Bella Dicks, Heritage, Place and Community (Cardiff, UK: University of Wales Press, 2000); and Smith, Uses of Heritage; and Harrison, Critical Approaches.

  • 94. Jens Meierhenrich, “Topographies of Remembering and Forgetting: The Transformation of lieux de mémoire in Rwanda,” in Remaking Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights after Mass Violence, ed. Scott Straus and Lars Waldorf (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2011), 283–296.

  • 95. Sara Guyer, “Rwanda’s Bones,” Boundary 2 36, no. 2 (2009): 155–175, 157; Susan Cook, “The Politics of Preservation in Rwanda,” in Genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda: New Perspectives, ed. Susan Cook (New Jersey: Transaction, 2006), 281–299; Pat Caplan, “Never Again”: Genocide Memorials in Rwanda,” Anthropology Today 23, no. 1 (2007): 20–22; Nigel Eltringham, “Bodies of Evidence: Remembering the Rwandan Genocide at Murambi,” in Remembering Genocide, ed. Nigel Eltringham and Pam Maclean (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2014), 200–219; and Véronique Tadjo, “Genocide: The Changing Landscape of Memory in Kigali,” African Identities 8, no. 4 (2010): 379–388.

  • 96. Guyer, “Rwanda’s Bones”; Tadjo, “Genocide”; Amy Sodaro, “Politics of the Past: Remembering the Rwandan Genocide at the Kigali Memorial Centre,” in Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places, ed. Erica Lehrer, Cynthia Milton, and M. E. Patterson (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) 72–89; and Rebecca Jinks, “Thinking Comparatively About Genocide Memorialization,” Journal of Genocide Research 16, no. 4 (2014): 423–440.

  • 97. Jinks, “Thinking Comparatively”; and Brigitte Sion, “Conflicting Sites of Memory in Post-Genocide Cambodia,” Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development 2, no.1 (2011): 1–21.

  • 98. Laura Major and Joost Fontein, “Corporealities of Violence in Southern and Eastern Africa,” Critical African Studies 7, no. 2 (2015): 89–98; Bernard, “The Politics of the Luweero Skulls”; John Giblin, “Reconstructing Post-Conflict Heritage in Rwanda,” in Post-Conflict Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, ed. Ruth Young and Paul Graham (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, forthcoming); and Laura Major, “Unearthing, Untangling and Re-articulating Genocide Corpses in Rwanda,” Critical African Studies 7, no. 2 (2015): 164–181.

  • 99. Marie-Aude Fouéré and Lotte Hughes, “Heritage and Memory in East Africa Today: A Review of Recent Developments in Cultural Heritage Research and Memory Studies,” Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 50, no. 4 (2015): 542–558.

  • 100. Rachel Ibreck, “International Constructions of National Memories: The Aims and Effects of Foreign Donors’ Support for Genocide Remembrance in Rwanda,” Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 7, no. 2 (2013): 149–169; and Rachel Ibreck, “The Politics of Mourning: Survivor Contributions to Memorials in Post-Genocide Rwanda,” Memory Studies 3, no. 4 (2010): 330–343.

  • 101. Giblin, “Post-Conflict Heritage.”

  • 102. Fouéré and Hughes, “Heritage and Memory in East Africa Today.”

  • 103. Coombes, Hughes, and Karega-Munene, Managing Heritage.

  • 104. Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development,” 36; and Ishida Shin-ichiro, “A Confluence of Alternatives: The Merging of Mennonites and Peace Projects in Kenya,” Senri Ethnological Studies 79 (2013): 63–79.

  • 105. Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development,” 37.

  • 106. Annie E. Coombes, “Object Lessons: Learning from the Lari Massacre(s),” in Coombes, Hughes, and Karega-Munene, Managing Heritage, 54–98.

  • 107. Coombes, “Object Lessons,” 54.

  • 108. Karega-Munene, “Museums in Kenya”; Karega-Munene, “Origins and Development”; Annie E. Coombes and Lotte Hughes, “Introduction,” in Coombes, Hughes, and Karega-Munene, Managing Heritage, 1–15; and Coombes, “Object Lessons.”

  • 109. See, for example, Smith, Critical approaches.

  • 110. Coombes and Hughes, “Introduction.”

  • 111. Coombes and Hughes, “Introduction,” 8.