Current exhibition

Exhibition by Ton Dietz: Early postal services in East Africa

French post office in Zanzibar  In 1889 France had its own post office in Zanzibar, using French stamps, with Zanzibar postmarks.

Prior to 1888 only Zanzibar Island was part of regular postal services. While postage stamps have been in use in the world since 1840 (in Great Britain), it lasted until 1890 before the first postage stamps were issued along the East Coast of Africa. There were British-Indian, French and German post offices in Zanzibar, followed by German post offices in Lamu Island, Witu, Dar es Salaam, and Bagamoyo, and later elsewhere in what became German East Africa, and British post offices in Mombasa, Malindi, Kampala and Mumias in what became British East Africa in 1895, after taking over from the British East Africa Company. Postage stamps are miniature communication tools, that also have a political and aesthetic message, with a strong flavour of ‘identity’.

Read the Background Paper on the exhibition.

The African Studies Centre Leiden has recently started the African Postal Heritage Series, which show and will show those identity messages.

Stamp 1Stamp 2Stamp 4

This exhibition coincides with the retirement of Prof. Ton Dietz as Director of the ASCL on 1 September 2017. On Monday 18 September at 4pm Ton Dietz will give an introductory talk, to which you are kindly invited. The exhibition can be seen during office hours in the corridors on the third floor of the Pieter de la Court building.

Date, time and location

28 August 2017 to 31 October 2017

Exhibition: Karin Voogd’s Book Covers for a Library of the Arts in Lamu, Kenya

Exhibition in libraryArtist Karin Voogd writes:

"In February 2016, I began a project to establish an art library in Lamu called Maktaba ya Sanaa. Books and DVDs are an inspiration for people who want to be artists or want to know more about culture. Lamuans are very interested in art and the city, renowned for its festivals, is on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Most African libraries depend on donations and Maktaba ya Sanaa is no different. With the donations that we hope to receive, we will buy titles that have been suggested by people who are close to Lamu or to art and who know what young art lovers on the East African coast need to become artists or to know more about art and heritage.

The book covers that I have drawn are of books that are on my wish list for the library. Some of the titles are suggestions, for example, Nairobi-based artist James Njoroge said I should purchase the book on Kenyan Contemporary Art by Margaretta wa Wacheru. Until now, this thesis has only been available as an E-book, which poses a new challenge: what should we do with online material in this library?

Another suggestion came from Lamu's official librarian, Khadija Issa Twahir, who proposed buying a book on Indian Culture. So, when I came across a book on Pakistan Miniatures by Virginia Wiles, it seemed appropriate and I added the title to my wish list. In turn, I have asked Virginia Wiles for her suggestion for the Maktaba ya Sanaa.

Kenyan art tends to be conceptual or political, so I have added some titles on issues that concern the region, such as Germans on the Kenyan Coast by Nina Berman, which elaborates on the influence Europeans have on the economy in the region through tourism, charity and love.

In addition to the drawings of book covers, I have sketched a series of people I believe are inspirational for the Maktaba ya Sanaa. The next step in this project is a crowdfunding campaign in conjunction with an email campaign inviting people to make suggestions for book titles."

Read more about Karin Voogd on her website.

The exhibition can be seen during office hours in the library (ground floor) of the Pieter de la Court building.

Date, time and location

18 September 2017 to 31 October 2017

Forthcoming photo exhibition by Roel Burgler: School? Yes please! Education in Guinee Bissau

Foto expo Roel BurglerThe former Portuguese colony of Guinee Bissau is a poor and in many ways less developed country. There are practically no social services, two thirds of the population lives under the poverty line, a good infrastructure is lacking and the country has a barely functioning government.

This inevitably has severe consequences for the quality of education. Schools are not well maintained, if at all. Classes are overcrowded and teachers often unpaid, which regularly leads to strikes. Due to the poor education system parents often try to set up schools themselves and find the means to pay for teachers. Such initiatives can range from a ramshackle mud hut in the bush, with one teacher for four classes, or a kindergarten in town with uniforms for the children and a meal at lunch time.

There is also much need for improvement in the area of vocational training for adolescents. Many youngsters have had no training and learnt no skills with which to provide for themselves. Here, too, private initiatives arise. Thanks to support from employers at various levels, youngsters can get practical, on the job experience. For example on building sites, in a simple restaurant or even in a luxury hotel.

Roel Burgler made this photo reportage in cooperation with SOS Children’s Villages. This NGO believes that children who have lost or are in threat of losing the care of their parents should, as much as possible, be taken care of within their own community. It is one of the organizations in Guinee Bissau working to create more access to better education and vocational training. Education, after all, is the key to a better future.

Take a look at Roel Burgler's website

Date, time and location

01 November 2017 to 31 January 2018