Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eastern African Exhibit at SRAC in February 2012

Bill Bauman adjusts an African headrest at the
"Ordinary Objects - Extraordinary People" Exhibit

(WAVERLY, NY) The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center (SRAC) in Waverly, NY will host “Ordinary Objects - - Extraordinary People,” an exhibit which invites people to experience the day to day struggles of nomadic life in the harsh sub-Saharan environment of Eastern Africa from Saturday, February 4th to Saturday February 25th. The exhibit will include hundreds of artifacts to include a Somali hut which the nomads transport along with all of their possessions on the backs of camels through the desert.

Philadelphia’s Betty and Bill Bauman, who with Sultan Somjee, a Kenyan anthropologist developed the exhibit which was sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee. The goal was to prepare a representative group of indigenous nomadic herders from northern and eastern Kenya to share their material culture (essential everyday objects) and their experiences.

Maps of Africa pinpoint the area traversed by the tribes of the nomads as they eke out their existence in the harsh sub-Saharan environment. They navigate the desert from one watering hole to the next, staying for months at a time and then moving on to find a new source of water and food. Because all tribes are constantly traveling, all possessions must be portable. Dress consists of sandals, ornate beaded collars and simple clothing which is represented in the exhibit. Visitors will also see a Somali hut which is occupied by up to two adults and three children, and although are made to be transportable with branches thatched with raffia can last 25 – 30 years and can withstand wind gusts of 40-50 miles an hour. Simple utensils, ornate headrests, spears and throwing sticks, and beautifully created milk containers also adorn shelves of the exhibit, with many more artifacts to discover around each corner. Better yet, visitors will be invited to touch, smell and experience the exhibit with a hands-on approach not seen in many museums today.

SRAC’s Deb Twigg added, “We want people to realize that “Ordinary Object s– Extraordinary People” is a “city exhibit” that has travelled from Philadelphia to other large cities in the Midwest and Canada. We are fortunate to bring it to Waverly, New York for the month of February, which is also Black History month. Our hope is that our youth will get the opportunity to experience it while it is here. As a result, we will not be charging students to visit the exhibit and we urge the schools in our area to consider making a field trip to SRAC while the exhibit here.”

The “Ordinary Objects – Extraordinary People” Eastern Africa exhibit will be open during normal business hours at SRAC, Tuesdays through Fridays 1pm – 5pm and Saturdays 11am – 5pm. The Center is located at 345 Broad Street, Waverly, NY. For more information, call the Center at (607) 565-7960 or visit

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