Africa

Our collection includes sculpture, masks, jewelry, toys and clothing from the Berbers and Tuareg of Morocco, the Ashanti of Ghana and Masai of Kenya, the Yoruba of Nigeria and Fulani of the Sahel, and the many peoples of southern Africa, including the Ndebele and the Bushmen of the Kalahari. The eclectic mix of artifacts in the exhibits highlights the color, diversity, charm and artistic beauty in African Culture. Stunning wood statuary shares space with whimsical toys of recycled metal, bright bead necklaces and trade cloth, adinkra stamps and kente cloth from Ghana, caps with amulets or gris-gris that confer protection on the hunter and spears and shields that Masai herdsmen use to protect their cattle and themselves from lions.

The exhibits will also include objects from the African diaspora in the Caribbean and Brazil. The artifacts are both from the Museum’s permanent collection and also from the collections of friends of the Mariposa, who have had their own rich experiences in Africa including Jim and Polly Curran, Frank and Martha Manley, Nic Fox, Robert Johnson, Liz Thomas, Connie Gray and Mary Blake. Programs and performances for “Out of Africa” including the Spring Senior Seniors will also call on the expertise of friends of the Mariposa as Segun and Seyi Olorunfemi, Richard Estes and Hilary Feldstein and Scott McGovern.

Maasai Flywhisk

Maasai Flywhisk

Maasai Flywhisk

Jomo Kenyatta, the founding father of the Kenyan nation and its first Prime Minister and President, often held a Masai fly whisk like this one as a sign of authority. The fly whisk is also an important symbol to the Luo people (President Obama’s African ancestors) so his grandmother reportedly brought one to him as an inauguration present.

South African Barbie

South African Barbie

South African Barbie

This Barbie from South Africa wears traditional Ndebele dress. Her black and white patterned dress is topped with a colorful ngurara (cape). On her legs and neck she wears the golden rings known as izixolwana. The gold and red head piece and hoop earrings give her a regal beauty.

Moroccan Jbala Musicians

Moroccan Jbala Musicians

Moroccan Jbala Musicians

Two Jbala musicians from the mountains of northeastern Morocco play music from Andalucia in Spain, where women had their own bands!

Kalahari Ostrich Eggs

Kalahari Ostrich Eggs

Kalahari Ostrich Eggs

Ostrich eggs hold water for the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert. The hole is plugged with a tuft of grass.

Guinean Castanets

Guinean Castanets

Guinean Castanets

Metal castanets played in ginewa music developed by slaves from Guinea, accompanying a stringed drum (the three strings are plucked at the same time the skin is struck). A dancer wearing a hat with seashells goes into a trance, his head turning in circles. On special nights called hadra the music is performed to heal and ward off evil. It may have been the origin of Brazil’s capoeira music.

Moroccan Tuareg Figures

Moroccan Tuareg Figures

Moroccan Tuareg Figures

Two Tuareg figures, called “les hommes bleus” (the blue men) in Morocco. The Tuareg live in and around the Sahara.

Mali Talisman Case

Mali Talisman Case

Mali Talisman Case

This turquoise-colored leather talisman case from Mali is worn around a man’s neck. It holds Koranic verses or magical substances to protect the man and his herd.

Kenyan Headrest

Kenyan Headrest

Kenyan Headrest

A wooden stool or headrest from the Turkana of Kenya or the Karamojong of Uganda.