Object of the Month
This #BlackHistoryMonth, we’re exploring some of the objects in our collection made by Black artists or makers.
This waistband is made by an El Molo craftsman in the north east of Kenya. We have learnt more about it thanks to the ongoing project Rethinking Relationships and Building Trust around African Collections, developing new practice around Kenyan and Nigerian collections at the Horniman Museum, the Pitt Rivers Museum, MAA, and the World Museum.
The Elmolo are Afro-Asiatic speakers believed to have migrated into Kenya from Ethiopia around 1000BC. They live along the shores of Lake Turkana, the world largest permanent desert lake, reflected in the white fish vertebrae beads and blue glass beads.
It has been hard to identify the source or get a local name for this object. As researcher Njeri Gachihi explains, “The El Molo is possibly an extinct language. The 2019 Kenya Census cited that there were only 8 native speakers of the language and the population of those belonging to the ethnic community was 2,800 only.”