The Italians did it!

Picture of rock art by David Coulson/TARA

I strongly believe that a person’s roots are a very important factor in establishing one’s individuality.

Where did they come from? What name was passed down to them and why? Why do they love chicken? Why are they so proud to be associated with certain things…?

There are so many questions. You can never answer them all. But each answer brings you closer to a truth. It takes you just that one level higher and helps you define yourself or identify yourself in relation to the things around you.

I loved my mum’s stories about when they were kids and how when they heard a certain call, they were to congregate at their Grandmother’s home because a wild animal had been spotted.

She also said that when ugali is being cooked, children were not to sing because the ugali would get out of the pan and start dancing. As pssh as that was, I think it was society’s way of keeping energetic kids quiet at night. And I’m sure it worked. But most importantly, it was a touch of history. A glance at my roots.

It is for this reason that the Mau Mau symbolize strength and courage and that trickles down to the generations that are privileged to call that their history. The fort at Chetambe Hills where there was a heavy war between the Bukusu and the colonialists, still stands – though dilapidated – as a testament to what was.

We are where we have come from. And even if we want to change, we do so from a point of knowledge of who we are and why things happen they way they do around us.

That’s what I believe.

Not too long ago Savino Di Lernia, Italian Archaeologist from La Sapienza University in Rome, Emmanuel Ndiema, Head of Archaeology at the National Museums of Kenya and Lorenzo Rizzini, an expert on Kenyan natural heritage presented a three-year plan to help preserve and publicise Rock Art around Lake Turkana.

The three-step process, unveiled at the Italian Institute of Culture, involves fact-finding, preserving and the spreading the word; something the local community is happy to share with any visitors that brave the long journey and stark terrain to find out more about them.

Now I want to go there. I have been to a remote area of Turkana once and despite the heat, the raw, quiet, powerful beauty is almost impossible to describe. At least the rock art is another reason to go back.

Isn’t it amazing? That we can see what happened about 4,000 years ago and get a glimpse of how people lived back then?

Sadly, I didn’t even know that they have a Museum at Loyangalani in Turkana, But now I am interested in visiting not only that, but the Sibiloi National Park nearby, born in 1973. The options are endless.

However, I will look for a house to sleep in, rather than camp because I don’t care much for scorpions…

So what did the Italians do? Well, they have teamed up with the Kenyan government to make sure this Rock Art project in Turkana comes to life and Kenyans as well as tourists from around the globe can appreciate the rich history therein contained.

They also had a hand in helping set up the Loyangalani Museum by the way. But even more fascinating is that their next project will be at the coast. We all know that there must have been ships that sank there hundreds of years ago, but how much do we really know? As it so happens, Italy and Greece are well known for underwater archaeology and so the Mombasa excavation is set to be an amazing thing.

Just so you know: UNESCO preserves any underwater site -aka wreckage – older than 100 years.

(Image via David Coulson/TARA)

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