The Women’s History Museum of Zambia was set up to document and revive narratives of African history with a specific focus on women.
To research, preserve and restore African indigenous knowledge and living histories focused on women.
To introduce new cultural and historical knowledge through demystifying, popularising and functionalising indigenous knowledge.
To set an agenda of how African history on women is learned, how it is consumed and functionalised.
To see an expanded cultural knowledge production industry that has been built through examining and developing systems of indigenous knowledge and cultural learning in the local and regional African context for a greater appreciation of the world that we live in. ]
Statement of Purpose – “Imagining the future”
This project has been necessitated because there is a dearth of documented knowledge and information in mainstream historical narratives of African women and from an African woman’s perspective. These are histories that have been excised out of the mainstream socio-economic and cultural historical narrative as a result of the continent’s colonial legacy.
Indicating that there is an aspect of “identity” that has not been explored or understood through the lens of women who participated in varied histories even as the history still lives on and is being produced on a daily basis through contemporary cultural and socio-economic practices.
At best, some of this information only exists as an oral archive and is in danger of being passed out of knowledge if not documented. The subjects relate not only to culture but governance, family, knowledge of indigenous medicines, education, entrepreneurial practices, food security, trade, justice, law etc.
The museum would aim to salvage these histories and place them in their rightful trajectory. This will facilitate a “deep learning” which allows understanding on a visceral and intellectual level that can provide new ways of living and how this “learning” can contribute to enriching the dynamics of ever evolving cultural systems in Africa.
This knowledge would benefit schools, policy makers, members of the public (the citizens) who would be called to interact with the subjects and situate the knowledge into the present and the future.
It would present as an "Imagining of the future" without the paralysis created by "colonialism" as validated by the nation state.
Lessons and insights learnt from this project will inform further projects in the region and the continent.
The content will be produced and collected through research driven projects that delve into the subject of the role women played in developing societies, how that information was shared, whether the history still exists and how it is being stored and “functionalized” today.
To date the museum has received donations varying from pre and post-colonial audio files, old photographs of women who worked during pre-independence, audio and media archives that include pre-independence original recordings, amongst other things. We have also received a significant donation of quilted textiles created in the 1940’s by women in the south of Zambia that depict European entry into that part of Zambia.
For donations like these we would aim to do four things:
· Create storage place for historical artefacts and information
· Catalogue and archive indigenous knowledge
· Curate permanent exhibitions
· Use the collections and information to functionalise and commercialise indigenous knowledge for mainstream consumption
· Provide the museum as a resource for creative arts to functionalise and use for inspiration in their works
The content will also be examined for the impact that it has had on society as a whole and whether traumas of the social and cultural experiences have been addressed.