Kenya is swimming in uncharted territories and is planning to build the first underwater museum in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The museum, which is set to be built at the site of a shipwreck at Ngomeni, a historical fishing village in the North Coast, will be Africa’s educational centre for underwater archaeology.
Already archeologists are stepping up their efforts to discover more shipwrecks along the Kenyan Coastline.
Dr Caesar Bita, Head of archeology at the National Museum Kenya, Coast region, believes the underwater museum will be a major boost in the country’s economy and in line with the blue economy’s vision.
“The country is pushing for the implementation of the Blue economy for sustainable economic development. The museum will attract more tourists who will in turn improve our economy,” Dr Bita said.
Currently, Kenya has displays at the Ngomeni, where people see the wrecks on land. However NMK now wants to give opportunity to tourists who want to explore the wrecks under water.
Big Dhow in Ngomeni near Malindi, Kenya. (Flickr)
Some of the wrecks, Dr Bita says cannot be brought out of the water because they might be broken or decay.
“We are trying to develop projects that relate to blue economy, and that are cultural. Cultural heritage is one of the biggest attractions in Kenya. We have many tourist attraction sites near and under the sea,” said Dr Bita.
“The sea offers a conducive environment for their survival. I brought out they can decay,” said the archaeologist.
Across the world, underwater museums are becoming major tourist attractions and Kenya now wants to tap into the industry. In eastern Africa, only Madagascar has ratified the Unesco 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.
The National Museums of Kenya. (africanvibes)
The Coast region boasts 33 ancient shipwrecks that are documented though the archaeologists believe that there could be more.
“Once the museum is complete, we will have tour guides who will be guiding people under the water. Each wreck will have a placard that tells its history,” said Dr Bita.
Last year March 11, Unesco and the Kenyan Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage, together with the NMk raised awareness on the ‘Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage for Sustainable Tourism Development in Eastern Africa and the adjacent Indian Ocean Islands.