Print version ISSN 0018-229X
MUFUZI, Friday. Establishment of the Livingstone Museum and its role in colonial Zambia, 1934-1964. Historia [online]. 2011, vol.56, n.1, pp. 26-41. ISSN 0018-229X.
While some museums in Africa were established by scholars and connoisseurs, others like the Livingstone Museum, formerly called the Rhodes-Livingstone Museum, were established by colonial officials. This article examines the factors that led to the establishment of the Livingstone Museum. It also looks at its development and the role it played in carrying out government agendas from its inception in 1934 to 1964. The argument is put forward that the museum was expected to produce knowledge on the African way of life in order to reduce conflict caused by the clash of two different cultures (those of the African and European). This was necessary largely because European settlers and colonial government officers exploited the territory's natural and human resources. Above all, using the museum's permanent exhibitions mounted in 1934, 1936 and the temporary exhibition mounted in 1955 as a centenary commemoration of the sighting by Scottish missionary-explorer, David Livingstone of the Victoria Falls, the article argues that during the colonial period, the museum presented a space to exhibit the African material culture in order to demonstrate to the rest of the world the superiority of European culture compared to that of Africans. Thus, the article posits the thesis that in real terms, the museum was established for the purpose of legitimising colonial rule in the territory, which colonial officials saw as necessary to save Africans from their "primitive" way of life.
Keywords : Northern Rhodesia; Zambia; Livingstone Memorial Museum; Rhodes-Livingstone Museum; Livingstone Museum; African material culture; European culture; white settlers; colonial government officials; temporary exhibitions; permanent exhibitions; Empire Exhibition; Jan van Riebeeck Tercentenary Exhibition; Rhodes Centenary Exhibition; David Livingstone Centenary Exhibition; Desmond Clark; David Livingstone; Cecil John Rhodes.