Monday, March 22, 2010

A day at the museum

Makwinja-one of the drivers- grew up in the area right near one of our clinics and really wanted to take us to a museum that was near his home village. He's seen the place and had never been so we decided to go after Thumbwe last week because its a short day. A museum after work? I know, I know- pure class. To paraphrase the words of the great Mike D: "I am so cultured it's disgusting. I'd better take a shower because the classiness is clogging my pores."

The museum was in an old slave house that was used by slave traders on the slave trafficking route from Malawi through Mozambique. The museum was locked but we got the curator to open it and show us around.

Well it was more like a store room than a museum. No exhibits, no display cases, just boxes. Apparently it's the only storage place for "cultural artifacts" in Malawi.

The first room was full of dinosaur bones. Just sitting on a shelf. The nurses and Makwinja had no reverence (probably not having been to many if any museums before) and were knocking on the bones and testing their tensile strength while Gus and I held our breath praying they wouldn't snap the million year old fossils.

The second room held pottery. We just pointed a box that seemed interesting and he'd pull it down for us and let us see what was inside. We were remarking that despite the fact that these are supposed to be relics, the look an awful lot like some of the vessels that we see in the villages. Guess not that much has changed in some parts of Malawi.

The last room had bones that had been dug out of graves. Some were from young girls that were buried alive with the body of a dead chief.

In sum: locked when we got there at 3pm, no exhibits, shoddy facilities, storage of priceless artifacts in cardboard boxes, really cool old stuff. Exactly how I pictured a Malawian museum.

Ah, and lest I forget: HAPPY BIRTHDAY J0SH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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