A team from CNN’s Inside Africa programme visited TARA last week to learn more about African rock art and tell its story to a wider audience. They travelled with David Coulson, TARA chair, and Josiah Kabiru, Community Projects Manager, to some Kenyan rock art sites to assess the state of TARA’s community projects, and to film the rock art sites.
Together the team visited Kisii, where destruction of ancient engravings has been ongoing for a number of years, largely as a result of soapstone mining. With the help of sculptor, and TARA friend Elkanah the TARA team spoke with some of the elders to understand the extent of the loss of rock art and how it can be stemmed. The elders understand the extent and value of the rock art already lost but are unable to stand up to the local businessmen and sculptors. TARA hopes to create an open-air museum where there is an area of undamaged rock art, to which the rock art from other damaged sites can be moved.
After the stop in Kisii, the team then travelled to Mfangano Island in Lake Victoria where beautiful examples of concentric circle paintings are found. The rock art community project here has suffered from a decrease in tourism in recent years. The rock art kindergarten that was founded on the proceeds from tourist entry fees, has grown a lot since it was set up. The decrease in tourism therefore impacts the sustainability of the school which provides early childhood education at no cost to local children. Recent government efforts to promote local tourism under #TembeaKenya and #TwendeUshago campaigns and to develop the tourism infrastructure in the Western circuit of Kenya will hopefully help turn this tide around.
The team also visited a rock art site in Nairobi National Park.
The CNN feature is scheduled to air on the 26th of June, so mark your calendars!