Red Flag as Kenya Sends 145 Precious Items to France

  • An image of the oldest man-made tools discovered in Turkana dating 3.3 million years ago
    An image of the oldest man-made tools discovered in Turkana dating 3.3 million years ago
    YouTube
  • Experts in Kenya have questioned a decision by the Kenyan government to lend 145 precious pieces of fossils that have been collected over the years to a small French Museum for an exhibition.

    The decision to send the 145 precious items contradicts a decades-long policy that has kept the originals of these artefacts sitting pretty under lock and key.

    The only time artefacts of this nature are allowed out is when there is a need for scanning and scientific analysis and research when the technologies needed to conduct these activities are not available in the country.

    They are always allowed out under very stringent conditions such as timelines by the Sports, Culture and Heritage Ministry and the National Museums of Kenya(NMK).

    An image of the oldest stone tools discovered in Turkana
    An image of the oldest stone tools discovered in Turkana
    Kenya Geographic

    It is prohibited to touch the original artefacts with bare bands. Items that are displayed for public viewing are always replicas of the original specimens.

    Kenya lent the artefacts to Reunion des Musees Nationaux-Grand Palais, a cultural organisation in France, which currently has them on a public exhibition despite protests by experts.

    Experts including paleoanthropologist and former NMK boss Richard Leakey questioned why Kenya sent the original artefacts to France instead of the Replicas as is usually the norm in the case of an exhibition.

    “The long-term dangers posed by the abrupt reversal of the long-standing policy not to permit the export of artefacts and fossils except for verified specialised scientific analyses,” wrote Dr Leakey in a letter addressed to the Sports, Culture and Heritage Ministry Cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed on May 12, 2021.

    The letter added that transporting artefacts that are still under ongoing research violated a long-standing tradition of not interfering with ongoing research.

    In the letter, he wondered why the most important artefacts discovered in Kenya were being taken for an exhibit in France citing Kenyans have never seen them.

    The oldest human-made objects known to man, dating 3.3 million years old obtained from Turkana, which were announced six years ago - are among the artefacts transported to France.

    On July 31, 2020 Josephta Mukobe, the Principal Secretary for State Department for Culture and Heritage Confirmed to Nation that the items were lent and not permanently exported.

    Entrance to the Nairobi National Museum.
    Entrance to the Nairobi National Museum.
    File