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MMUST Institute of Indigenous Knowledge and Cultural Studies Gives New Impetus to Preservation of Culture as They Host His Majesty Nabongo Maurice Rapando the 2nd

The workshop was officially opened by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Planning Research and Innovation-Prof. Charles Mutai, who was representing the Vice Chancellor at the function. The aim of the workshop was to bring together practitioners in the cultural sector, government ministries, scholars, researchers, performers and international agencies in a bid to re-awaken the need to preserve and conserve our cultural heritage. The Institute utilized the opportunity to officially launch its Strategic Plan and a book on ‘Indigenous African Justice Systems: Enhancing Access to Justice to Redress Impunity in Kenya’ authored by scholars from MMUST. 

Participants of the workshop.

Speaking at the workshop, Prof. Mutai pointed out that indigenous knowledge is very important for everyone, especially institutions of higher learning who should be taking the lead in preserving it.

“As a University we need culture, our future is in our culture. Let us see how we can incorporate it into our systems and education curriculum,” he said.

His Royal Majesty Nabongo Maurice Rapando II, who was one of the main guests at the event, advised participants to find their solutions to life’s difficult challenges from culture. 

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His Royal Majesty Nabongo Maurice Rapando II (centre) presenting at the workshop.

“Following the establishment of the MMUST Institute of Indigenous Knowledge and Cultural Studies, I expect this institution to be a melting pot for culture in the region and beyond. Let us embrace our cultural heritage because that is the most civil and logical thing to do. I congratulate you for officially launching your cultural institute’s strategic plan. As the sole royalty in our motherland, we shall work together with you,” said His Royal Majesty.

Representing the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs, Prof. Judah Ndiku appreciated the Institute for creating the forum to engage with key stakeholders from diverse cultural backgrounds.

“This is a timely venture which will allow more partnerships. We want to collaborate with other stakeholders to solve the problems facing mankind such as food insecurity, social injustice,” stated Prof. Ndiku.

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The isikuti performance at the workshop.

The Director IIKCS, Prof. John Shiundu noted that one of the ways that Universities can be linked to the community is through culture, adding that this is the reason why the institute was established.

“This institute is like gold for this community. We should use it as an instrument of development and dialogue with the community. Let us utilize the institute to promote and sustain our culture,” he said.

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The Director IIKCS, Prof. John Shiundu addressing the participants.

Concurring with the director, the Deputy Director-IIKCS, Dr. Lucy Mandillah highlighted the strategic vision of the institute, calling on the participants and stakeholders present to contribute to their strategic plan and collaborate with them as they document and preserve culture.

“Our Mission is to promote the discovery, conserve and disseminate indigenous knowledge and culture through quality research and innovation for sustainable development,” stated Dr. Mandillah.

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Deputy Director-IIKCS, Dr. Lucy Mandillah speaks at the event.

The workshop was closed by the Director, Research and Postgraduate Support, Prof. Peter Bukhala who indicated that it is our responsibility to document important aspects of our cultural heritage. Prof. Bukhala is also the chairperson of the IIKCS committee. The other committee members are Dr. David Barasa, Dr. Lydia Anyonje, Fr. Dr. Kizito Muchanga, Dr. Ochieng Ahaya, Dr. Humphrey Agevi and Mr. Tom Shivachi.

The workshop had an array of exciting presentations which included ‘Cultural Activities in Western Kenya’ - Mr. Cyril Mululu (rep, Chief Officer, Social Science-Min of Culture County Gov of Kakamega), ‘Traditional Leadership for Cultural Identity and Heritage’ - His Royal Majesty Nabongo Maurice Rapando II, ‘Tangible & Intangible Cultural Heritage for Sustainable Development’ - Mr. Julius Mwahunga, (Director, Culture, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO) ‘Opportunities within Kakamega Tropical Forest for Research and Cultural Heritage’- Mr. Maurice Wanyiri (Kenya Forest Services), and ‘Strategic Positioning of the IICKS’- Hon. Siverse Anami (Cultural Ambassador).

Some notable quotations from the presenters included;

“There is nothing about us without our culture,”- Hon. Siverse Anami

“Let us bring the forest to the heart of Kakamega County,”- Mr. Barasa Kukubo

“We must deal with the bastardization of ‘the Crying Stone.’ The correct name is ‘Ikhonga Murwi’- Mr. Jimmy Makotsi.

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Other organizations that participated in this interesting workshop were the County Government of Kakamega, UNESCO, Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, National Museum of Kenya, Kenya Forest Services, Kenya Copyright Board.

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The common denominator by most of the presenters was the importance of conserving our culture and jointly utilizing it to solve the problems of society.

By Dr. Lydia Anyonje and Linet Owuor
Photos by Wilberforce Shiundu

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