Features

Choma Museum:Where handicrafts speak

VIOLET MENGO, Choma
EVERY museum has collections that hold hidden stories,and the Choma Museum and Craft Centre (CMCC) is no exception.The collections, usually ancient, hold hundreds of untold stories secreted in compendiums that curators have been looking after for years.A tour of CMCC, popularly known as Choma Museum,reveals a number of things about the culture of the Tonga people of Southern Province.From inception in 1972,Choma Museum was running as a private arts centre until 2015 when it was declared a national museum under the National Museum Board.With two main objectives of preserving regional cultural heritage and economic empowerment of the local people through hand-crafts trade, the women in the area have taken it upon themselves to preserve their intangible culture through crafts.One distinctive activity common to Tonga women in this part of Zambia is the weaving of baskets. And it is in these uniquely woven baskets where the secret stories of Choma Museum are hidden.The stories are embedded in the unique patterns of handicrafts.For example, the nyenyezi (star) pattern of basket weaving embodies celestial bodies such as stars, the moon and the sun, which in Tonga tradition are linked to womanhood and feminine matters like beauty and reproduction.Nyenyezi baskets also mirror a world without boundaries because celestial bodies can be enjoyed by everyone irrespective of geographical barriers. The baskets also denote the Ubuntu
spirit because just like the way baskets are shared by many people other than CLICK TO READ MORE


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