Art and culture

CULTURE

USA gives back Mjikenda Vigango to Kenya

Cerimony at Fort Jesus, Mombasa with Culture and Heritage CS

31-07-2019 by redazione

After thirty-five years, the history of the "vigango", the simulacra of the Mijikenda tradition, deducted and transported under track by an American citizen to the hinterland of Malindi, has a happy ending.
The sacred wooden idols of the animist religion of the Kenyan coast are called "vigango". They symbolize the ancestors and are placed in places of prayer, especially in the "Kaya", the sacred forests that today are a UNESCO heritage site.
The American was not a scholar, but an expert merchant of African art and traditions who had good contacts in and around Beverly Hills. He had begun to resell the vigango to fake Hollywood characters and producers, including the well-known actor Gene Hackman.  In a short time among the rich Californians spread the fashion of Vigango and in America there are at least four hundred.
Many of them, including Hackman himself, once smelled the uncertain legality of the origin, had donated the Vigango to the Museum of Denver, Colorado.
Thanks to the denunciation of an American scholar of Eastern African animist traditions, Monica Udvardy, who had pointed out the uncertain legality of the origin of the vine, many new owners had donated them to the Museum of African Art in Denver, Colorado.
The public display of the symbols has reached the ear of the Malindi District Cultural Association and, after five years of negotiations conducted by Malindi lawyer Joseph Karisa Mwarandu, many pieces have been brought back to Kenya, but it is estimated that many others are hidden in homes and private collections in the United States.
Initially they were thought to stop at the National Museum in Nairobi, but the MADCA claimed them on the coast, because they belong to members of the giriama community. So last weekend was held the official ceremony of delivery to the Museum of Fort Jesus in Mombasa, in the presence of the Minister of Culture Amina Mohamed (in the middle of the picture, left with microphone the lawyer Mwarandu, next to him the poet Kazungu Wa Hawerisa).
The vigango are about three more meters and forged with wood of the best to withstand the weather. They are planted in the ground and remain outside about the size of a man. They are offered votive gifts and are often adorned with traditional clothing.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

TAGS: mijikendatradizioni kenyacultura kenya

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